Autumn Programme 2020

Our three sessions in September and the Cardinal Bea Memorial Lecture (7th October) will be via Zoom or Webinar.  If you would like a link to these events, please contact the Centre on . The links to each session will be sent out a day or two before the event.


Thursday September 10th  14.00-15.30

Sr Therese Fitzgerald nds  

The Gifts of the Spirit – where can we find them?

An exploration of Biblical texts that invite us into God’s presence and out into the world.  Texts will include  Isaiah 11:1-9, Galatians 5:22-26 and others.  

Sr Thérèse is a Sister of Our Lady of Sion. She is involved in Jewish-Christian relations and Bible study. She loves exploring Biblical texts and discovering their invitation to us, as readers, to be nourished and transformed by them.


Monday September 14th   14.00-15.30

Rabbi Dr Michael Hilton   

Why are the Jewish High Holydays so popular?

Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) gets very little attention in the Bible, and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) was a day dedicated to Temple ritual.  So how did they become the main occasions in the year for Jews to attend synagogue? The answer is bound up with the early history of Jewish-Christian relations.

Rabbi Michael Hilton is Rabbi Emeritus of Kol Chai Hatch End Reform Jewish Community, Scholar in Residence at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, Senior Lecturer in Vocational Studies at Leo Baeck College, and an Honorary Research Fellow of the Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Manchester.


Tuesday September 22nd   14.00-15.30

Rabbi Dr Michael Hilton    

The Jewish Festivals of Sukkot and Simchat Torah

Exploring the origins and themes of these festivals and how they are celebrated today.  


50th Annual Cardinal Bea Memorial Lecture:

Wednesday October 7th    19.00-21.00  

Professor Michael Barnes SJ  and Jonathan Gorsky

Bea after 50 Years: Legacy and Inspiration

The occasion of the 50th Cardinal Bea Memorial Lecture provides an opportunity to celebrate the memory of this remarkable scripture scholar and man of the Church who did so much to shape the direction of the Second Vatican Council. As well as calling to mind his many achievements, especially in the sphere of Jewish-Christian relations, this lecture looks to the next fifty years. What would Cardinal Bea say about where we are now? And where would he like us to be in 2070?

Michael Barnes is a Jesuit priest who has been involved in interreligious relations for many years. His latest book, “Waiting on Grace, a Theology of Dialogue”, puts the experience of being called into life by a compassionate and loving God at the heart of Christian faith.

Jonathan Gorsky is a former lecturer in Christian Jewish Relations at Heythrop College, London.  He is now the Jewish  Scholar in Residence at the Sion Centre for Dialogue & Encounter


Thursday October 15th  14.00-15.30

Rabbi Mark Solomon     

The Song of Creation

This study session falls during the week when Jews read the creation story in synagogue. We will be introduced to the ancient Jewish work Perek Shirah, A Chapter of Song, which ascribes songs of praise – mostly biblical verses – to every aspect of creation: heavenly phenomena, geographical features, plants, birds, animals and creeping things. It is usually attributed to the early Jewish “Chariot” mystics, and its meaning is much debated. For many of us, the Covid lockdown has been a time to refocus on nature, and our place within it, and this curious work helps us to hear the cosmic song of praise.

Rabbi Mark Solomon is senior lecturer in Rabbinic literature at Leo Baeck College, minister of the Edinburgh and Leicester Liberal Jewish communities, and serves as chair of the Rabbinic Court and interfaith consultant for Liberal Judaism.


Tuesday October 20th   14.00 – 15.30  

Rev Dr Anders Berquist    

 “And the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah…”

Of all the prophetic books, the Book of Jeremiah is the one that is most consistently attentive to the experience of being a prophet.  What is it like to hear God, and to have to pass on God’s word? What is it like when the message is one of defeat and disaster?  How does the prophet charged with this message fit (or not) into the politics and society of their day? The later editors of the book have framed it so as to explore just these questions – which this study session will open up through a close reading of selected texts, including Jer. 1.1-19, 15.10-21, 17.14-18, 20.7-18, and 36.1-32.


Tuesday October 27th  14.00 – 15.30

Rabbi Rachel Montagu    

Jephthah’s Daughter: Who is the Troublemaker Here?

A look at what happened and what didn’t happen in the story of Jephthah’s daughter. Why did Jephthah make this foolish vow? What was its effect on him and on his daughter? How have artists interpreted the story and what moral can be drawn from it?


Wednesday November 4th   14.00 – 15.30

Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers 

The Biblical origins of Social Distancing

From leprosy to menstruation, understandings of public health discourse in the Hebrew Bible

Rabbi Debbie is part of the rabbinic team at Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue. She has been published writing about and also teaches interfaith encounter at Leo Baeck College and Jewish Christian relations at The Queen’s Ecumenical Foundation.  


Wednesday November 11th  14.00 – 15.30

Canon Christopher Jackson   

St Paul and his Jewish roots

In his letter to the Romans, St Paul writes warmly of the Jewish people – they are family. This session will consider whether chapters 9, 10 and 11 are an encouragement or a stumbling-block in Jewish-Christian dialogue.

Canon Christopher Jackson is a priest of the Hexham and Newcastle Diocese and a member of the Committee for Jewish/Catholic Relations


Wednesday November 18th   14.00 – 15.30

Rabbi Alexandra Wright and Rev Kristina Andreasson

How biblical women have shaped, and still shape, the faith of Jews and Christians

Rabbi Alexandra Wright is Senior Rabbi at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John’s Wood and has been involved and interested in Jewish-Christian dialogue and events since she sang Bach’s St Matthew Passion in Westminster Abbey when she was at school.

Rev Kristina Andréasson is from southern Sweden and was ordained as priest for the Church of Sweden.  Now licensed by the Bishop of London, she is Associate Vicar at St John’s Wood Church. In her theological studies, Kristina’s main subject was the psychology of religion, to study faith’s role in times of crisis. She now focuses also on feminist and liberation theology.


Thursday November 26th  14.00 – 15.30

Dr Sean Ryan   

St Paul on prayer and thanksgiving in 1 Thessalonians

Prayer is central to the theology of St Paul. We will look together at St Paul’s consolatory letter to the community of believers in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians). We will reflect on how he encourages his hearers to give thanks to God at all times, and pray without ceasing, so as not to lose hope, even when hope and joy seem to have disappeared. We will reflect on the rich theology of prayer that blooms in this little letter.


Saturday December 5th  11.00 – 15.00

Fr Richard Nesbitt     

Day of Prayer for Advent

Reflecting on the Advent themes of watching and waiting in this year when we have had to do so much watching and waiting!


Tuesday December 8th 14.00 – 15.30

Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild   

Healing of the Body, Healing of the Soul: Praying for Healing in Jewish Tradition

From Abraham onwards, Jews have prayed to God for healing. A look at some of the sources, some of the prayers, and some of the traditions from the Jewish world in the face of serious illness 

Rabbi Sylvia was ordained in 1987 and served two South London communities for almost 30 years.  She is now rabbi to the  Lev Chadash Milan community in Italy – currently via zoom