A new partnership between Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and the Academy for Jewish Religion California (AJRCA) will bring scholars from both faith traditions together in the same location, opening the door to inter-religious dialogue, collaborative teaching and learning opportunities, and interfaith community-building initiatives.
AJRCA, a transdenominational graduate seminary dedicated to the training of rabbis, cantors, chaplains, and other Jewish community leaders through its Masters of Jewish Studies program, has moved to LMU’s Westchester campus. The Academy will be located at University Hall.
While grounded in different faith traditions, the two institutions share common goals, including strong commitments to social justice and interfaith dialogue, which are key parts of each organization’s mission and values.
“LMU, in concert with other Jesuit universities, has identified interfaith work as a priority and an area of growth,” said John Sebastian, LMU’s vice president for Mission and Ministry. “It is a point of pride for our university to answer the call to engage with believers of all faith traditions. This isn’t something we’re doing just because it’s a good thing to do. This is really about who we are, and it’s an expression of LMU’s Catholic identity, which calls us to dialogue with people of all faith traditions and worldviews.”
“What’s exceptionally important about this relationship is that our schools are maintaining their individual autonomy while creating a new vision of Jewish and Christian relations,” said AJRCA President Rabbi Mel Gottlieb, Ph.D. “By partnering, we are strengthening the voice of religion and increasing spiritual sensitivity through exploring our values and traditions, in service of creating a better world.”
LMU Provost Thomas Poon said the university is in the unique position to deeply imagine a growing academic relationship with AJRCA, given that it is situated within the country’s largest Catholic archdiocese, and in a city with one of the largest Jewish populations in the U.S. LMU and AJRCA students who take classes or global immersion trips together will be more enriched because of their exposure to different faith traditions.
“We have so much in common,” Poon said of LMU and AJRCA. “We both have a mission to educate. It’s not just a textbook education; it’s the education of the whole person.”
“I’m excited by this new chapter in Interfaith relations between our two schools,” said AJRCA Board Chair Marlene Canter, who has been a longtime advocate of building interfaith bridges. “With this new alliance, we have a chance to model how to engage in interfaith dialogue and advance religious understanding in a rigorous academic setting.”
In the first step of what is envisioned as a multi-phase partnership, LMU and AJRCA leaders are building relationships, offering co-sponsored programming, building community among our students and faculties, inviting guest speakers/teachers into each other’s classes, imagining teaching collaborations, and identifying synergies that could lead to students taking courses across the two institutions for credit in their own programs.
AJRCA moves to its new offices in the coming weeks. An interfaith worship service and welcoming ceremony will be planned when it is safe for us to do so.