Annual Sr. Shirley Sesawie Oration Online.

The Council of Christians and Jews (Vic) presents the Annual Sr. Shirley Sedawie Oration, which will be delivered by the Dr. Debbie Weissman on the topic of Reflections on Living Through Difficult Times Online, on Sunday 18 October from 4:00PM AEDT.

Sr Shirley Sedawie was a member of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, who succeeded in building bridges of understanding between the Catholic Church and Jewish people in Australia and beyond after World War II.

In 1962, she was sent to Jerusalem to study Judaism and Hebrew. When she returned, she founded the Centre for Jewish-Christian Dialogue in Box Hill. She began a BA at Melbourne University, majoring in Semitic languages and Middle Eastern thought, then completed an MA in 1970; her thesis was The Beginning of the Conflict between Christian and Jews.

In 1970, the centre relocated to Cotham Road, where an excellent library of Judaica and theology was established.

Shalom, as it was called, became a place for lectures and meetings. An increasing number of Christian groups seeking knowledge about Judaism were welcomed. Many senior students at Our Lady of Sion College at Box Hill benefited from Sedawie’s Biblical studies course. Survivors of the Shoah (Hebrew for Holocaust) living in Melbourne found in Sedawie a trusted and lifelong friend. She became one of the founders of the Council of Christians and Jews in Victoria and an active member of its executive committee.

In 1977, she returned to Jerusalem for further study and worked at the Sisters of Sion’s Centre for Biblical Formation ”Ecce Homo” on the Via Dolorosa in the Old City overlooking the Temple Mount. The following year she joined an international team at the Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations in Rome, where she later became its director. She was responsible for the quarterly publication SIDIC that was published in three languages and focused on the international progress of the Jewish-Christian dialogue.

Sr Shirley Sedawie also worked with the Vatican’s Department of Relations with Judaism and the Jewish People. And, she lectured at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

Sr Shirley Sedawie returned to Australia in 1988 and rejoined her community in Sydney. Rabbi Raymond Apple of Sydney’s Great Synagogue has written that “the breakthrough (establishing the Council of Christians and Jews) occurred in 1988 when Sister Shirley Sedawie returned to Australia”. While in New South Wales, and true to her enthusiastic nature, she befriended “Mum Shirl” and the Aboriginal community at Dundarra; Sedawie remained a staunch supporter of the community for the rest of her life.

Annual Oration

Dr Debbie Weissman

After moving to Jerusalem in 1972, Dr Debbie Weissman taught Jewish education and women’s studies at the Hebrew University, and was also the director of the Kerem Institute, a teacher training Institute for Israeli high school teachers. Her PhD in Jewish Education is on the social history of Jewish women’s education. She was president of the International Council of Christians and Jews from 2008 to 2014, the first Jewish woman (and only the second woman at all) to have served in that position in well over 50 years. She is a long-time friend of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion and the author of Memoirs of a Hopeful Pessimist: A Life of Activism Through Dialogue (KTAV Publishing, 2017)

Event Details

Oration: Reflections on Living Through Difficult Times
Date: Sunday 18 October 2020
Time: 4:00PM – 5:00PM AEDT
Location: Online using Zoom
ID: (Meeting ID: 953 7777 1465 ~ Passcode: 229603)
RSVP: Tel: 9429 5212 or Email:




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