SHU Dedicates Blau Library for Christian-Jewish Understanding

News Story: November 21, 2008

SHU President Dr. Anthony J. Cernera, right, and Barry Blau unveiled the plaque during the dedication of the new Blau Library Collection at the Ryan-Matura Library.

Sacred Heart University has dedicated several hundred books and other resources related to the relationship between Christians and Jews. The Library for Christian-Jewish Understanding was made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation for Christian-Jewish Understanding, founded by Mr. Barry Blau, and Sacred Heart’s Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding (CCJU). It is the first collection of its kind dedicated to the relationship between these two great religious traditions and is expected to serve as the foundation for an expanded set of scholarly materials in the future. This will include books, magazines, documents, multimedia resources and rare texts.

The Blau Collection, housed in the University’s Ryan-Matura Library on campus, was formally dedicated on Monday, November 10th. Dr. Ann Heekin, the CCJU’s director of programs and publications, welcomed members of the Blau family and the University community and noted that the new collection would be a resource for scholars and other interested persons. She cited Rabbi Abraham Heschel’s thought that words can create worlds and expressed the hope that the words gathered in this unique collection would help create worlds of greater understanding and respect.

Rabbi Joseph Ehrenkranz, a co-founder of the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding and its director emeritus, noted that the legendary library at Alexandria, Egypt, drew scholars from around the world and was the reason for the city’s existence and growth. In like fashion, as scholars discover the resources of this library, he said, they will, in effect, cause the Center to expand and thrive. He noted the often troubled relationship between Christians and the Jewish community from which they arose, and he cited St. Paul as an embodiment of that conflict: a man who started out persecuting Christians and then as a Christian, turned his back on the Jews.

Other speakers included Dennis Benamati, the University librarian, who discussed the unique qualities of a library’s special collections; Emily Blau Cohen, an officer of the Community Foundation for Christian-Jewish Understanding; and Dr. Anthony J. Cernera, president of Sacred Heart University and co-founder of the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding.

Dr. Cernera unveiled the dedication plaque with Barry Blau, who then addressed the assembly. He expressed his hope that the new collection would be an ever-growing resource for scholars and members of the local community alike and thanked Rabbi Ehrenkranz and Dr. Cernera for their special inspiration and leadership.

A sampling of the Blau Collection’s titles will give some indication of its breadth and depth: Anti-Catholicism in the Media; Anti-Semitism through the Ages; The Catholic Church and the Holocaust; Contemporary Ethical Issues in the Jewish and Christian Traditions; Jews and the Theology of Israel; Many Religions, One Covenant: Israel, the Church, and the World; and Within Context: Essays on Jews and Judaism in the New Testament.