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2017-08-11 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

August 11, 2017  RSS feed
Culture

Text: T T T

Generosity and understanding propels interfaith donation


(L-R) Monsignor Frank M. Mouch, a former president of Saint Leo; Matthew Tapie, PhD, director of the Saint Leo University Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies; donor Douglas Cohn of Tampa; Saint Leo University President William J. Lennox Jr.; retired Saint Leo educator and honoree Linda S. Taggart; and donors Gail Whiting and Paul Whiting. Unavailable for photo: donor Maureen Cohn. (L-R) Monsignor Frank M. Mouch, a former president of Saint Leo; Matthew Tapie, PhD, director of the Saint Leo University Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies; donor Douglas Cohn of Tampa; Saint Leo University President William J. Lennox Jr.; retired Saint Leo educator and honoree Linda S. Taggart; and donors Gail Whiting and Paul Whiting. Unavailable for photo: donor Maureen Cohn. Two Tampa couples, one Jewish and one Catholic, are seeding an endowment fund to benefit the Saint Leo University Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies and its work in interfaith education.

Douglas and Maureen Cohn, along with Paul and Gail Whiting, agreed to establish the endowment as a tribute to educator Linda S. Taggart, with each couple pledging $25,000, to be donated over the course of five years.

The Cohns – for whom the Tampa JCCs and Federation Community Campus is named – are well-known for their giving locally, including their generous donations to Jewish causes and to arts and cultural institutions. They are members of Congregation Rodeph Sholom. The Whitings are active philanthropists as well, and belong to Christ the King Catholic Church. The couples have known each other for years.

Their honoree, Linda Taggart, has been devoted to the causes of interfaith relations and understanding, and to Saint Leo University. She has filled many roles, as an adjunct professor of religious studies at the university during multiple periods, as a trustee of the university from 2002 to 2008, and when needed, she stepped up and served as director of the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies in 2009-2010. One of her favorite areas of study is the Hebrew Bible, and she often quips to students and others that Jesus did not read the New Testament. Concurrent with these activities, she also has made presentations on interfaith relations at Catholic parishes throughout the Tampa Bay area.

Maureen Cohn reflected that Linda Taggart “has been a true inspiration to me, as I see her as a teacher and scholar of all religions. Linda’s deep knowledge of both Judaism and Catholicism were the catalyst for the bond that formed between the two of us over the many years of our friendship. It was through Saint Leo and the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies that we were able to engage and share our mutual love of faith and humanity.”

Tapie, who became director of the Saint Leo University Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies in Fall 2015, concurred that “the establishment of the Cohn- Whiting Endowment significantly advances the mission of the center, especially in its capacity to educate students. Their generous gift allows us to teach students the interfaith leadership skills so desperately needed in the local community, as well as shape future scholars of interreligious study and dialogue.”

Others may donate to add to the principal of the Cohn-Whiting Endowment for Catholic-Jewish Studies. Once the endowment is fully established and earning investment income, the center director will be able to use proceeds for student research and study efforts.

Saint Leo University established the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies at its campus in east Pasco County in 1998. The center’s mission is to build mutual respect and understanding between Catholics and Jews, and all people of good will. To accomplish this, the center sponsors interreligious study experiences for students and provides the general public opportunities to attend special educational events and to engage in respectful dialogue, both on campus and at other venues in Tampa Bay and Sarasota. More information is available from current CCJS Director Matthew Tapie, PhD, at matthew.tapie@saintleo.edu.


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