News - Grant Funds Lectures and Experiential Learning in Jewish-Christian Studies

Grant Funds Lectures and Experiential Learning in Jewish-Christian Studies

by Carla Morris

Students are the grateful beneficiaries of a $50,000 grant awarded to Greenville College by the Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundation. The grant designates $35,000 for GC to establish an endowment to fund its Samuel Sandmel Lecture Series in perpetuity. It designates an additional $15,000 for the College to provide this year’s students with experiences that enrich their understanding of Jewish history and comparative religions.

Engaging Discourse, Enlightening Dialogue

Since 2003, scholars in Jewish-Christian relations have engaged with students in Bishop Blackchapel, classrooms and colloquia as part of the Samuel Sandmel Lecture Series. The series honors the pursuits of Samuel Sandmel, a prolific scholar of Paul and Philo, who authored works on Scripture, Christianity and Jewish-Christian relations. The lectureship originated with GC alumnus, the Right Reverend William Grant Black (pictured at right), longtime priest with the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio and a champion of Sandmel’s work. The lectures previously occurred biennially, but thanks to the new endowment, they will now occur each spring.

“Encouraging students to appreciate the traditions of other faith communities is a hallmark of the Greenville College experience,” explains Vice President for Development Linda Myette, author of the grant application. “By increasing the frequency of the lectures from biennial to annual and funding them in perpetuity, we provide greater exposure for students to the engaging messages these thought-leaders bring.”

This spring’s Sandmel Lecture took place Wednesday, April 13. Rori Picker Rori Picker NeissNeiss (pictured at left), executive director of the St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), shared with students in chapel and conducted a Torah study of Genesis 18 in an afternoon colloquium. A kosher reception followed. Neiss is a graduate of Yeshivat Maharat, the first school to train Orthodox female clergy.

Memories That Matter

When asked to identify memorable, life-shaping experiences they encountered at Greenville College, graduates frequently cite the exposure GC gave them to the traditions and practices of other faith communities. Film studies, “faith and learning” trips to St. Louis and Chicago, and study abroad in Jerusalem define these experiences. Thanks to the Shapiro Foundation, this year’s students recall transformational experiences like:


  • Sampling falafel in Jerusalem for the first time as Arabic chants from a local mosque emanate from loudspeakers.
  • Discussing the terror that filmmakers infused into “Take Shelter,” the story of a modern-day Noah, driven by apocalyptic visions to build an ark of salvation for his family.
  • Engaging new perspectives on tragedies in Rwanda and Darfur after visiting the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center in St. Louis.
  • Taking in the “lift” of the cantor’s rich baritone in Shabbat service at Congregation Sha’are Emeth: “Adoni, open up my lips that my mouth may declare your praise.”

For more than 20 years, Greenville College and the Charles and M.R. Shapiro Foundation have partnered to enhance the scope and effectiveness of Jewish-Christian studies. This most recent grant makes a strong program even more robust, and, in the spirit of Samuel Sandmel, continues to cultivate respectful conversation.


Learn more:

Join GC students via video on a faith and learning trip to St. Louis

Stepping Out of the Classroom and Into the Bible

Dr. Tony Steinbock Chapel and Lecture

Young Alumnus Cultivates Critical Thinking in East Jerusalem Classrooms

Indiana Jones in Training

Honors Program Study Abroad


Greenville College offers a transformational Christ-centered educational experience that empowers, enriches and endures. Give today.

This story was published on April 15, 2016

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