Minutes of Meeting

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Date: July 14, 2003

Location: University of Dayton, Alumni Hall Room 101

Meeting Topic: "Everything You Wanted to Know About Dialogue, But Were Afraid to Ask."

Speakers: Shirley Flacks & Father Bert Buby

Host: Lillian Gillespie

Members: 19;  Guests: 3

Thank You

 Thank you to DCJD President Lillian Gillespie again, for furnishing the refreshments.

And thanks goes to Shirley Flacks and Father Bert Buby for the memorable reminiscences of some early and later DCJD meetings and extra-curricular activities that formed a strong basis for true friendship. The notes on the following pages outline their contributions at the July Dialogue.


Sharing our best memories about the Christian Jewish Dialogue

by Shirley Flacks

I have a confession to make--I came to the dialogue with an agenda. I wanted the Christians to know--that for me being Jewish was not simply a matter of faith, it was also a matter of an ongoing learning, it was a way of life, it was the peoplehood of Israel and the land of Israel, all parts of being Jewish.

Recently I read Hillary Clinton's newest book. She had a statement in there that resonated for me. When asked how she managed to maintain her dignity and sanity throughout the trials and disappointments of the President etc she quoted a saying they had at Sunday School regarding her faith. "Faith", she says "is like imagining yourself stepping off a cliff and expecting one of two outcomes, either you will land on firm ground or you will be taught to fly."

So first I must tell you I have a very personal relationship with God though I don't spend a whole lot of time in the Synagogue--I believe in God's ability to love all his people and that she respects our freedom to choose so I would submit that that is the first rule of successful dialogue. One must be secure in their own belief system and accepting of the other's.

Listening is a very necessary skill. A natural curiosity about other cultures and religions wouldn't hurt. Realizing that we can never agree completely with each other but being able to see our similarities and accept our differences without rancor. Feeling Safe when sharing personal feelings. Trying to Convert someone else is a very big no no.

 My Personal Journey in Dayton Christian Jewish Dialogue:

Bert Buby, S.M. ( Marianist)

My journey started with taking Hebrew classes under a Bro. Gerard Sullivan, who is now 92 years old. This led me to learn more about Judaism, Israel, and its people. I followed up my courses by getting in touch with Rabbi Ira Sud while I taught at St. James Catholic School for boys in Chester, Pa. The rabbi and I shared our religious traditions and our concerns. I was 23 years old at that time. I followed up with continuing to study the Hebrew language in Switzerland and eventually started higher studies in the Bible resulting in two lengthy stays in Jerusalem in 1965, 1967. This prepared me for what was to happen in Dayton when I returned to teach at U.D.

The next stage consisted in my participating in two important conferences on dialogue and inter-religious sharing: One at United Theological Seminary where I met what would become the nucleus for the DCJD. I met Shirley and Paul Flacks, Harold Platz, Sophie and Harold Rubenstein. This was really the beginning of my becoming a participant and leader in DCJD.

I was asked by Shirley to take an active role in the program planned for the first National Workshop to be held at Bergamo. Rabbi Riemer and I were in dialogue about the worship area of the workshop and both of us spoke on the Psalms and offered prayers in the workshop. I believe this took place in the autumn of 1972. I remember that Carl Moeddel and Archbishop Joseph Bernadine were active participants in this participants in this workshop that had eighty some participants.

It was after the workshop through the help and careful guidance of Fr. Flannery, Paul and Shirley Flacks, the Rubensteins, Fr. Hoelle and Eileen Moorman that a working plan was set in motion and one of the strongest and now one of the long standing dialogue groups was formed. The friends I had met at both conferences now invited me to be a part of this newly formed group, which also owed a debt to the Fr. John Kelley, Shirley, and the former rabbi of Temple Israel. The persons of Fr. Hoelle, Shirley, and Eileen are indeed the founders of what we now call the DCJD. The meetings to set this in motion were held at the Marianist Provincialate on Ridgeway Rd., the former Rike mansion.

Personally, it was the contact with the above people that kept me interested and committed. Lunches, informal meetings, and telephone calls kept this interest alive in me and led me to be a faithful participant. The foundation was laid for me and I then participated in almost every meeting held since 1972. I also served as president for two years, I think 1977-1978.

We are indebted to Dr. Leonard Swidler for giving us a Decalogue on dialogue principles. I agree with them, but live them out in a more systemic or integrated way that does not need to count them. Let me share some of my motivating ideas about dialogue:

First of all, it was through human friendships that I became interested in Dialogue. Here is where I found dialogue partners who helped me to be trusting, open, and have a sense of belonging. We learned how to grow and deepen these friendships through careful planning, good organizing of what we were about, and stimulating programs. You can see some of them listed on the original Dialogue pamphlet. I believe the reason the Dialogue continues is because of human friendships that result in mutual sharing of our values, our religious knowledge, and our convictions about justice and peace. I think the Dialogue continues because people work at the friendships they have found and deepen them.

My conviction about the meetings is that the participants are best when they, we, learn how to listen not only with our ears and mind, but also with our hearts. I cherish the Hebrew expression Leb Shomeah that means to have a listening heart. To do this it means be able to allow others to speak and not to control a group with oneís own speaking but to keep the door open to inviting others to speak, especially those that are more timid or who are recent members of the Dialogue.

A second conviction, which follows from friendships, is that it has to be continuous and worked at. This keeps a relationship alive and helps dialogue to be a dynamic experience in listening and sharing with friends.

Dialogue then is a process of building up trust and friendship with the other and it requires listening so as to learn the convictions, values, and sacred concerns and symbols of the other. It means being aware of everyone present and to invite them to be a participant.

Continuity means more than just coming to the programs that interest me; it means a commitment to be there at most meetings and other social or religious events of the group.

I need to be aware of the most sacred things, persons, and values of the other in dialogue. Thus a Christian needs to be concerned about the Holocaust, about Zionism, about the Hebrew Scriptures in their proper context. I also need to be sensitive to other Christians who are from another dispensation than my own and to respect their sacred things and values.

We learn by listening and sharing. We also have been committed to excellent presentations such as we have had this past year where topics that witness to oneís values and sacred concerns have been heard. (Eric Friedlandís, Bill Youngkin, Eileen Moorman, Shirley Flacks, etc. etc.). This personal sharing and witnessing is what is the glue that holds the DCJD together.

I also think we learn to assimilate what takes place at the dialogue and to allow it to permeate the areas in which we live, teach, work, or celebrate. For example, when I taught Religion 103 I was able to invite speakers in for explaining Judaism. Lorainne, Shirley, and Renee among them. I was able to share what I had learned and did so effectively with classes from 1990-2002. The Dialogue has definitely helped my knowledge for sharing in the classroom at the graduate and undergraduate level.

Friends do things that surpass your imagination. For example, when I celebrated my 25th anniversary as a Marianist, it was at the Flacks that I had the most joy and experienced the deepest appreciation surpassing on that occasion the celebrations I had elsewhere.

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