Centro Pro Unione (Center for Unity) is the Friars’ Ecumenical and Interreligious Center located in Rome, Italy. Under the direction of Fr. Jim Puglisi, SA, the Center hosts events that invite people to come to a deeper understanding of Christianity, as well as other religions.

This spring, the Center is hosting three events that will give attendees greater insight into Christianity’s roots in Judaism. Fr. Jim shared, “The motivation of the Centro’s spring lecture series is actually rooted in the very important relationship that Christians have with their Jewish roots. In particular, Christians must understand that if they are to heal the divisions that arose within the Christian family, they actually need to return to the original division which occurs with the separation from the temple and synagogue early on in Christianity. And so for this series, the Center is focused on the history of Christian relationships within Judaism.”

The first lecture, which took place on March 7th, was presented by Prof. Israel Knohl, a Bible professor at the Hebrew University, and was entitled “Is Genesis 49:10 a Messianic Prophecy?” This lecture focused on the understanding of the Messiah in the early book of Genesis.

The second lecture in March focused on the important role of the place of Jerusalem in the whole question of salvation. Entitled “The Place of the Land of Israel in Jewish Thought,” the lecture was delivered by Prof. Marshall J. Breger from the Catholic University of America.

The third lecture, which will take place in May, will feature Rabbi Jack Bemporad, the Director for Interreligious Understanding located in Teaneck, New Jersey. The lecture will focus on the philosophical roots of the midrash, which is the basis for rabbis’ interpretation of the Torah.

“It is our hope,” said Fr. Jim, “that the participants will gain a better understanding of some aspects of Judaism, and in turn, of what it means to be Christian. In particular, how they are to be Christian, how they may be able to better understand the Jewish Bible, and therefore, better understand Jesus’ beginnings. Far too often, Christians forget that Jesus was Jewish, a religious person raised within a religious context, and what He addressed to his hearers comes from that tradition that He ‘did not come to abolish but to fulfill.’”