Ep 6 Unlikely Conversations: Getting Curious About Difference A Jewish-Catholic Conversation

How do we teach toward curiosity? How can we educate ourselves and each other around misinformation of the other? How do we build relationships today so when crisis happens we are working out of the context of knowing and being known?

Claire Shea is principal at a Catholic middle school. She is also married to a Muslim. Aaron Weininger is a Jewish Rabbi. He is also openly gay. In this episode, Claire and Aaron talk about having tough conversations in their homes and families as well as in the public sphere. Starting in their homes has helped them prioritize relationships in doing courageous work in their communities.

Topics discussed in this episode: ​ ​

  • Addressing painful stereotypes
  • How to push through discomfort when our personal beliefs get challenged
  • Why mutual vulnerability is necessary in interfaith relationships

Bios

Claire Shea currently serves as the Middle & High School Principal at American Creativity Academy, an international, private school in Kuwait City, Kuwait. Before moving abroad, she worked as the Junior High Principal at Benilde-Saint Margaret’s School in St. Louis Park, MN for four years. Born and raised in the Twin Cities, Claire went to Providence College in Rhode Island to study Theology and Spanish. Afterwards, she joined the LANCE program (Lasallian Association of New Catholic Educators) in Memphis, TN where she taught theology and English in an inner-city school during the day while working towards her Masters of Teaching in the evening. After moving to Minnesota, Claire received her Educational Specialist degree in Principal Licensure K-12. In addition to the Multi-Religious Fellows program, Claire is currently working towards her Doctorate of Education at the University of St. Thomas where her research focuses on moral/ethical conflict between students and teachers in public, secondary classrooms.

Rabbi Aaron Weininger is the associate rabbi at the Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka, Minnesota, where he holds the Berman Family Chair in Jewish Learning. He earned his BA in Anthropology and Jewish Near Eastern Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, and received ordination and an MA in Hebrew Letters from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2012. In 2007, he became the first openly gay person admitted to rabbinical school in the Conservative movement, and he studied at JTS as a Schusterman Rabbinical Fellow. Aaron believes when the spark of each person is connected to the warmth of community, ancient Jewish wisdom is reanimated and transformative in the world.

Next Steps

Further Conversation

  • What hard conversations are you having in your home and in your family?
  • When talking to someone very different from you, do you find that difference exciting or challenging?
  • Aaron talks about challenging people’s perception of Zionism. Who for you has challenged your assumptions about a group of people?
  • Claire talks about the opportunity to challenge stereotypes around Isalm. Have you ever had the opportunity to humanize someone being unfairly stereotyped?
  • After listening to Claire and Aaron, what you are curious to learn more about?

Happy Tangents

  • Listen to Dar Williams’ Song “The Christians and the Pagans.” Share some stories that have come up around your family table. Who would you like to sit down with to learn more about Israel and Palestine, Islam, or something you are curious about but need to hear more?
  • Watch this West Wing clip and talk about how people still use the Hebrew Scripture to forward their views against homosexuality.