Interreligious Program Highlight: Shemanski Support

Written by Hannah Crivello
April 22, 2014

Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry has been honored to receive the ongoing support of the Tillie & Alfred Shemanski Testamentary Trust for more than a decade. In that time, the Trust has contributed over $250,000 to the school?s Interreligious Initiative, toward Jewish-Christian Dialogue and public programming.

?We are honored that the Tillie & Alfred Shemanski Testamentary Trust has continued to recognize the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University as an organization committed to promoting better interreligious understanding and cooperation in our community,? remarked Dean Mark Markuly. ?We are able to augment and expand our efforts as a result of their support of our intersecting mission and vision for a more just and humane world.?

Alfred Shemanski was a Jewish immigrant from Poland with little formal education. He understood the struggles of being a stranger in a strange land and became a champion for both Jewish and secular education. His successes never blinded him to the plight of those less fortunate. Mr. Shemanski exercised philanthropy in the purest definition of the word?love of mankind. The Trust?s Advisory Committee seeks to make grants in keeping with the following Shemanski values:?

  • Education
  • Religious respect and tolerance
  • Caring for those in financial stress
  • Strengthening the Jewish community

Dr. Michael Trice, Assistant Dean for Ecumenical & Interreligious Dialogue comments:

?The Tillie & Alfred Shemanski Testamentary Trust provides the fuel for the school?s interreligious community programming and honors the memory of Tillie & Alfred Shemanski by working to promote better understanding among members of the diverse faith communities that comprise the greater Seattle area.?We simply could not do all that we do without the support of the Tillie & Alfred Shemanski Testamentary Trust.?

Here are just a few of the many programs that Tillie & Alfred Shemanski Testamentary Trust has made possible for Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry:

Featured Interreligious Speaker(s), on an annual and ongoing basis
Funds from the Trust will help bring several interreligious speakers to the event each year, including Amy-Jill Levine, Rabbi David Rosen, and Search for Meaning Book Festival 2013 keynote novelist Michael Chabon.

Annual Clergy Institute, Temple de Hirsch Sinai
Each spring Christian ministers and lay leaders are invited to Temple de Hirsch Sinai for a day of interreligious study and conversation. This year, the 33rd annual Institute will take place on May 15th, 2014.?Senior Rabbi?Daniel Weiner and the school?s Assistant Dean Michael Trice have invited Rabbi Donniel Hartman, President of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Israel to be the scholar-in-residence. Hartman will also be a Faith & Values in the Public Square speaker at Seattle University.

Annual Special Topics Classes
This 2013-2014 academic year, Rabbi Mark Glickman will be teaching a special topics course in the Spring Quarter of 2014, made possible by the support of The Alfred & Tillie Shemanski Trust. In addition, Dr. Michael Kinnamon and Rabbi Anson Laytner will be teaching a course on ?Jewish-Christian Relations.? Additional interreligious courses are in various stages of development.

Annual Interfaith Harmony Week
Interfaith Harmony Week was observed by Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry in 2013 for the first time with the support of Tillie & Alfred Shemanski Testamentary Trust, bringing community religious leaders together to observe this important international initiative with a celebratory banquet and panel discussion. Visiting Professor, Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon brought both his academic and professional experience as former head of the National Council of Churches to bear on the subject of the challenges to genuine dialogue and the possibilities for genuine interfaith relationships.?In 2014, over 90 people attended. Read a student?s reflections from the week, here, as well as a partner?s account, here.

Annual International Holocaust Commemoration Day
Seattle University?s Campus Ministry and School of Theology and Ministry seek to remember the Holocaust and other events of genocide globally on the United Nations? established International Holocaust Commemoration Day, on January 27th, the day that marks the liberation of Auschwitz.? The 2014 commemoration featured Leo Hymas, a U.S. soldier who participated in the liberation of Buchenwald, and a liturgy of remembrance. The event was coordinated in conjunction with the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center.

Seattle University Jewish Student Union
$1,000 from the Tillie & Alfred Shemanski Testamentary Trust helps Seattle University?s Jewish Student Union host a Chanukah party, a Passover Seder and other programs as sponsored by Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry.

Outreach Meetings and Interreligious Dialogues
Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry reaches out to Mormon, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh leaders so that we may get better acquainted with one another and explore issues and needs. Funding from the Trust supports the community gatherings and meals shared together.

School of Theology and Ministry Interreligious Council Meetings
The school?s Interreligious Council, made up of faculty and interfaith community leaders, meets three times during the academic year to advise the school?s Interreligious Initiative and its team.