"I know the power of teachers. It is my deepest wish that teachers in our public and parochial schools, with scholarship assistance, will be able to enroll in Jewish-Christian studies at Seton Hall University to stem the tide of ignorance in our schools and in society." - Sister Rose Thering
The Sister Rose Thering Fund (SRTF) for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies is a community-outreach program of the Jewish-Christian studies graduate program at Seton Hall University. Its mission is to advance the legacy of Sister Rose Thering by fostering understanding and cooperation among Jews, Christians, and people of other religious traditions through advocacy and education.
In keeping with the teaching of the Vatican II document, "In our age" [ Nostra aetate], the SRTF envisions a world without religious prejudice by advocating to value differences, demonstrate courage, build bridges, create dialogue, and inspire the next generation.
The state of New Jersey's 1994 legislated Mandate for Teaching Genocide and Holocaust Studies recognizes that "there is an inescapable link between violence and vandalism and ethnic and racial intolerance" and accordingly mandates: "Every board of education shall include instruction on the Holocaust and genocides in an appropriate place in the curriculum of all elementary and secondary school pupils."
The Mandate specifies:
"Teaching about the Holocaust is far more than an academic history lesson. Students can learn that they are empowered to make moral choices in this challenging world."
- the late Mary Vazquez, Millburn Middle School
The instruction shall enable pupils to identify and analyze applicable theories concerning human nature and behavior: to understand that genocide is a consequence of prejudice and discrimination: and to understand that issues of moral dilemma and conscience have a profound impact on life. The instruction shall further emphasize the personal responsibility that each citizen bears to fight racism and hatred whenever and wherever it happens.
To foster implementation of this Mandate, and in keeping with the Vatican document Nostra aetate, the SRTF raises funds to provide tuition support for educators enrolled in graduate courses in Jewish-Christian studies at Seton Hall University. Teachers enroll in these graduate courses to earn the Certificate (12 credits) or the Master of Arts degree (36 credits) in Jewish-Christian studies, exploring the range of history, source interpretation, values, spirituality, and contemporary issues within the Jewish-Christian tradition.
In addition to supporting teacher education, the SRTF provides a variety of community-outreach services, including:
- sponsoring an annual middle and high school essay contest centered on how the award-winning documentary Sister Rose's Passion inspires the students to actions that promote understanding and cooperation among diverse individuals and groups;
- an annual Dr. Marcia Robins Wilf endowed lecture on topics related to building understanding among peoples of diverse ethnic, cultural and religious traditions;
- an annual Evening of Roses to celebrate the achievements of notable humanitarians;
- an annual scholarship awards ceremony where donors and teachers meet;
- two end-of-semester round table discussions among graduate students and invited community leaders on topics related to coursework and practical implementation within the Jewish-Christian studies program.
Under the aegis of the SRTF, the graduate program in Jewish-Christian studies houses the Leon and Toby Cooperman / Eric Ross Endowed Chair in honor of Sister Rose Thering, currently held by Rabbi Dr. Alan Brill.