Dear LMU Colleagues:
In keeping with Loyola Marymount University’s commitment to interfaith cooperation and as President Snyder shared with the LMU community in September, the Academy for Jewish Religion California (AJRCA), which educates rabbis, cantors, and chaplains to serve congregations and organizations of any Jewish denomination, has made LMU its new home.
As of summer 2021, AJRCA is located in University Hall on LMU’s Westchester campus. LMU and AJRCA remain separate and distinct institutions with common goals, including a commitment to spiritual development and well-being, and the fostering of interfaith dialogue and understanding. This partnership also holds great promise for future curricular, scholarly, and creative collaborations.
Established in 2000, AJRCA’s mission is to develop individuals equipped to lead the 21st century American Jewish community in all of its diversity by promoting genuine concern for the joys and pains of all people, dedication to moral living, and a view of the Torah as foundational for human wisdom and spiritual practice.
Robbin Crabtree, dean of the LMU Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, said, “Collaborative, interfaith work between AJRCA and LMU will only deepen our Catholic identity and manifest our Jesuit priorities.” She added, “I have often quoted John C. Haughey’s, S.J., book “Where is Knowing Going?” which invites us to reflect on the Catholic University in relation to the Catholic intellectual and spiritual traditions. His main point is that the Catholic intellectual tradition does not belong to the Church, or even just to Catholics, but to all those who commit to and work for its principles. A similar point can be made about Jewish intellectual and ethical traditions, from which come so many Christian beliefs, tenets, and traditions.”
This unique partnership will create opportunities for interfaith dialogue and engagement across the LMU curriculum and in campus life. There are significant and meaningful synergies with the university’s current undergraduate majors/minors in BCLA’s Theological Studies and Jewish Studies, as well as our master’s degree programs in pastoral theology, theological studies, and bioethics. Connections between AJRCA and the LMU Music Department related to liturgy, as well as religious and cultural music traditions, are also being explored. Beyond academic programs, there is great potential for AJRCA to collaborate with Jewish Student Life to promote spiritual and religious diversity, development, and experiences. These and other nascent and potential collaborations are sure to enrich our intellectual and spiritual communities.
The relationship between AJRCA and LMU has its roots in BCLA’s Jewish Studies program, which offers an academic minor and a robust series of community lectures. Jewish Studies at LMU has evolved into a hub for spiritual inquiry and interfaith dialogue engaging partners and collaborators such as AJRCA. Together, AJRCA and Jewish Studies have impacted students, faculty, and our community for the better through co-sponsored events, including BCLA’s annual Kristallnacht Commemoration. AJRCA has also sent their students and faculty on summer immersion courses in Israel, and Jewish Studies faculty have taught for AJRCA.
Interfaith programming has been a part of AJRCA and LMU for many years and is also essential to an education in the Ignatian tradition. Our pluralistic world is in need of interfaith leaders who have an awareness and ability to reach out to other faith communities and shepherd us toward greater tolerance and mutual understanding. During the pandemic AJRCA and LMU Mission and Ministry partnered in presenting online-based programs, including an interfaith prayer service around Passover and Easter and a reflection on Jewish and Christian perspectives on the global climate crisis, and we can anticipate more such events in the future.
I look forward to a long and fruitful partnership that will expand our capacities and enrich our cross-institutional vitality, all while having a transformative impact on our students, as well as for and with communities here in Los Angeles and beyond.
In the spirit of partnership and interfaith understanding,
Thomas Poon, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and Provost