Baylor Establishes Center for American and Jewish Studies

Oct. 25, 1999

WACO, Texas -- In a unique move to further the knowledge of contemporary Judaism and its relation to contemporary Christianity, Baylor University has established a Center for American and Jewish Studies. Dr. Marc Ellis, University Professor of American and Jewish Studies, will serve as its director.

"We have two primary goals for the center," said Ellis. "First, we want to create a leading forum for the discussion of religion and political life in the United States and on the international scene. Second, we want to establish the leading center for the study of Judaism and Jewish life among Christian-identified institutions of higher learning."

Center activities will include organizing conferences and creating a lecture series on such topics as Faith and Society after the Holocaust and Jewish and Palestinian Life in the 21st Century. According to Ellis, a conference on the topic "The Next 50 Years: Perspectives on the Future of Israel and Palestine" tentatively has been set for November 2000 with subsequent conferences dealing with Jerusalem and "Is there a Judeo-Christian Tradition: Myth or Necessity" set for 2001 and 2002, respectively.

The center also will create a library of Judaica, offer classes on the Holocaust, Jewish philosophy and modern Judaism, and provide travel opportunities to important sites of Jewish history and contemporary life, such as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and Israel.

Ellis, a noted expert on contemporary Judaism and the Holocaust, earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Florida State University where he studied with Jewish Holocaust theologian Richard Rubenstein. He received his doctorate in contemporary intellectual and religious history in 1980 from Marquette University.

Upon completing his doctorate, Ellis founded the master's program in justice and peace studies at New York's Maryknoll School of Theology in 1980 and was coordinator of the program until 1995. He has served as visiting professor of religion at Florida State and as senior fellow at Harvard's Center for the Study of World Religions and as a visiting scholar at Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He joined the Baylor faculty in 1998.

An acclaimed writer, Ellis has authored nine books including Unholy Alliance: Religion and Atrocity in Our Time, Ending Auschwitz: The Future of Jewish and Christian Life and O Jerusalem: The Contested Future of the Jewish Covenant.

Ellis has lectured extensively in Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. In 1992, he traveled to Auschwitz, Poland, where he was a member of a Jewish delegation on the future of Auschwitz, and in 1995 he delivered a lecture at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. He has served as a consultant to the Committee to Combat Racism of the World Council of Churches and as a member of the steering committee of the Religion, Holocaust and Genocide Consultation of the American Academy of Religion.

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