Different religions, shared ambitions

HAVING a world-renowned Jewish feminist lecturer address hundreds of Catholic college staff at Noorat is a rare mix of religions and backgrounds — and a possible recipe for tension.

Professor Levine with Dr Darren Egberts, principal of Mercy Regional College Camperdown, Tim O’Farrell, principal of Trinity College Colac, and Peter Morgan, principal of Emmanuel College in Warrnambool. 140715AS02 Picture: AARON SAWALL

Professor Levine with Dr Darren Egberts, principal of Mercy Regional College Camperdown, Tim O’Farrell, principal of Trinity College Colac, and Peter Morgan, principal of Emmanuel College in Warrnambool. 140715AS02 Picture: AARON SAWALL

But American speaker Dr Amy-Jill Levine earned rousing applause and is likely to arrive back in conservative Tennessee, USA, with a string of emails from appreciative south-west Victorians eager to glean more of her insights into Judaism’s links to the roots of Christianity.

“She was an outstanding speaker — it was a privilege for us to have her here,” said Mercy Regional College principal Darren Egberts, whose staff combined with those from Emmanuel College Warrnambool and Trinity College Colac for a one-day conference.

“Our teachers found her engaging, funny and personable. 

“People were  listening to her intently. She was keen for our teachers to have continuing communication with her via email. 

“Her theme was that most of the world’s religions have very good messages at heart, but problems arise when they try to translate from the original.

“When asked by some of our region’s teachers about the current conflict in Israel, she replied ‘they’ll sort it out’.”

Dr Levine is professor of New Testament and Jewish studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and is also affiliated professor at Cambridge University in England. 

She has a commitment to eliminating anti-Jewish, sexist and homophobic theologies.  

Dr Levine encourages people of  different faiths to recognise they can disagree without conflict.

“They don’t have to sacrifice their own religion in order to have an interfaith conversation,” she said.

Her three-week Australian tour will include addresses to staff from 40 Catholic teaching schools in Victoria and NSW.

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