Pontifical Medal Awarded to Alumnus
Joerg Ahrens (MSt in The Study of Jewish-Christian Relations, 2015) had an audience with Pope Francis and was awarded with the Pontifical Medal for his great accomplishments in Jewish-Catholic relations. Joerg works as senior rabbi for the Jewish Community of Darmstadt, near Frankfurt, Germany. He is very active in Jewish-Christian dialogue on many levels, and has been honoured for two particular achievements: as an Advisor on Jewish-Catholic Affairs to the Central Union of Jewish Communities in Slovakia (UZZNO), Joerg was one of the initiators of Jewish-Catholic dialogue in Slovakia, which is still pretty new and quite fragile. He is also one of the initiators and main contributors of the Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity – To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven: Toward a Partnership between Jews and Christians.
I was very happy to be admitted to St Edmund’s College, which was my first choice. During my time in Cambridge, St Edmund’s College quickly became dear to my heart, and I have enjoyed its friendly, open, traditional yet informal atmosphere. The college was home for me in Cambridge. As a religious person, I appreciated the fact that the college is indeed “a place of education, religion, learning and research”, as described in the Statutes & Ordinances.
During my graduation I experienced the staff of St Edmund’s as extraordinarily helpful and flexible, showing genuine respect for my Jewish religious needs, such as the question of wearing a kipa (yarmulke) during the ceremony, and kosher food at the lunch. I don’t take this for granted, and I note with appreciation that the College cares for all religious needs (not only Christian) and is tolerant beyond the norm.