Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

College

School of Education

Program

Educational Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Erich W. Baumgartner

Second Advisor

Shirley Freed

Third Advisor

Thom Wolf

Abstract

Problem

Due to long-standing religious, racial, and cultural tensions, a complex and challenging relationship exists between Jews and Christians. The resulting breach isolates and separates these two faith groups from each other. Consequently, they struggle to interact and engage in meaningful dialogue, which could repair the breach and lead to forgiveness and reconciliation. Dialogue bridges the gap between Jew and Christian allowing them to meet in the third space—the liminal space of the Jewish cemetery in Poland. Jews and Christians may deal with the evil of the past through what researchers term as "loving acts."

Method

This study was conducted as a qualitative case study of the work of The Matzevah Foundation (TMF) in its efforts to bring Jew and Christian together in the space of the Polish-Jewish cemetery to work cooperatively to care for and restore cemeteries. The study employed a purposeful sampling method that selected specific people, who have had contact with TMF and its work. Sources of data for the study were derived from individual and corporate interviews, observations, documents, artifacts, and personal reflective journals. Through inquiry of the interaction of Jews and Christians in the liminal space of the Polish-Jewish cemetery, the study sought to understand how acts of loving-kindness influence attitudes and create mutual bridges of understanding as the underpinning for dialogue. The investigation asked two primary questions. First, how have Jews and Christians responded to the work of TMF? Second, in what ways did Jews and Christians learn how to dialogue within their interaction in the work of TMF?

Results

It was discovered that Jews and Christians reacted to the work of TMF in five ways: developing relationships, engaging in loving acts, remembering, restoring, and reconciling. These reactions produced the footing for dialogue. The data revealed a framework for dialogue that emerged from Jewish and Christian interaction, which consisted of seven components: addressing proselytism, developing common ground, gaining understanding, building a sense of community, speaking about matters of faith, confronting the present past, and overcoming differences among them.

Conclusions

The study discovered a potential model for Jewish and Christian dialogue and contributed a greater understanding of the experience of dialogue. Instead of meeting and talking, the distinctive difference of dialogue as encountered in this study is the creation of a nexus within the liminality of a cemetery in which Jews and Christians may mutually interact and cooperate in the restoration of Jewish cemeteries in Poland.

Subject Area

Christianity and other religions--Judaism; Judaism--Relations--Christianity; Matzevah Foundation

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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