Forget Not the Poor

AJC’s Forget Not the Poor: A Catholic-Jewish Symposium on Poverty will be held this Sunday, October 14 at 2:00 pm.  RSVP here.

After its establishment in 1906, as a nascent organization, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) made inter-religious relations a priority, believing that the only way to secure the civil and religious rights of Jews is to safeguard them for all Americans.  In its fourth Annual Report, AJC recognized “the importance of positive interreligious relations by praising the work of Christian organizations speaking out against prejudice and anti-Semitism.” AJC’s first amicus briefing, submitted in 1923 in support of the defendant in the Supreme Court case Pierce v Society of Sisters of the Holy Name, called for the Court to strike down the Compulsory Education Act, which stated that all children ages 8-16 must attend public schools.  The law effectively banned all religious schools, and if a parent enrolled their child into the school, they could risk criminal conviction.  The Court struck down the law by a vote of 9-0.

Since then, many events, including the Second Vatican Council, have helped continue the growth of Catholic-Jewish relations.  A common bond between Catholicism and Judaism, as well as all world religions, is helping those in need.  Devarim, the fifth book of the Torah, is full of commandments imploring us to do so:

“If, however, there is a needy person among you, one of your brothers in any of your settlements in the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy brother.  Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs.” (15: 7-8)

“If you see your brother’s ox or sheep gone astray, do not ignore it; you must take it back to your brother.  If your brother does not live near you or you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home and it shall remain with you until your brother claims it; then you shall give it back to him.  You shall do the same with his donkey; you shall do the same with his garment; and so too shall you do it with anything that your fellow loses and you find: you must not remain indifferent.  If you see your brother’s donkey or ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it; you must help him raise it.” (22:1-4)

There are many other examples throughout the books of the Tanach that are shared by Catholics and Jews, and AJC Washington is proud to partner with our local Catholic partners for Forget Not the Poor: A Catholic-Jewish Symposium on Poverty.  The conference will explore issues of poverty from both theological and practical perspectives, culminating in a call to action for our local community.

Keynote speakers are Professor Peter Edelman, Georgetown University Law School, and Bishop Denis Madden, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore.  Additional featured speakers include Rabbi Sid SchwarzDirector of Faith and the Common Good at Auburn Theological SeminaryKathy Saile, Director of Domestic Social Development for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; Brian BanksDirector Capital Area Food Banks; and Audrey LyonExecutive Director of Yachad.

Click here to RSVP. If you have any questions, please contact Jason Harris at

Forget Not the Poor: A Catholic-Jewish Symposium on Poverty
Sunday, October 14
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Catholic University of America, Caldwell Hall
620 Michigan Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 


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