Skip to main content

2017 Jewish Latter-day Saint Dialogue

March 2017 - Salt Lake City, Orem, and Provo, Utah – 3rd Dialogue Series

Participants – Mark Diamond (LMU), Tamar Frankiel (AJR-CA), Joshua Garroway (HUC), Holli Levitsky (LMU), and Ilana Schwartzman (Kol Ami, SLC), and Steven Windmueller (HUC)

Richard Holzapfel (BYU), Shon Hopkin (BYU), Quin Monson (BYU), Barbara Morgan Gardner (BYU), Andrew Reed (BYU), Jacob Rennaker (USC), Brent Top (BYU), and Thomas Wayment (BYU)

Closing Session at BYU-Provo, March 19: Israel, Zion, & the Holy Land; Left to right: Andrew Reed, Joshua Garroway, Mark Diamond, Brent Top, Holli Levitsky, Tamar Frankiel, Steven Windmueller, Barbara Morgan Gardner, Shon Hopkin, Thomas Wayment, Quin Monson, Richard Holzapfel, Jacob Rennaker

Academic Dialogues: 

  • The Sabbath in LDS and Jewish Practice: Presenters – Rabbi Mark Diamond (LMU) and Dr. Brent Top (BYU); Held at BYU-Salt Lake City Center, Friday, March 17
  • Jewish and LDS Views of Paul: Presenters – Dr. Joshua Garroway (Hebrew and Dr. Thomas Wayment (BYU); Held at BYU-Salt Lake City Center; Saturday, March 18
  • Israel, Zion and the Holy Land—Communal Perspectives: Presenters – Dr. Steven Windmueller () and Dr. Quin Monson (BYU); Held at BYU-Provo; Sunday, March 19

Public Presentations: 

  • Summer Haven: The Catskills, the Holocaust, and the Literary Imagination: Presenter – Holli Levitsky (LMU); Congregation Kol Ami, Salt Lake City; Saturday, March 18
  • Sacrament Meeting Talk, Shabbat in Jewish Life and Thought: Speaker – Rabbi Mark Diamond; Orem 2nd Ward Sacrament Meeting, Orem StakeCenter; Sunday, March 19

Joint Learning & Worship Experiences: 

  • Shabbat Services, Congregation Kol Ami, Salt Lake City, Friday &Saturday, March 17-18
  • Tour of Temple Square & LDS Conference Center; Salt Lake City, Saturday, March 18
  • LDS Sunday Services (three-hour meeting schedule); Orem, UT, Sunday, March 19
  • LDS Sunday Dinner; hosted by Wendy and Brent Top

November 3, 2017 – Webcast dialogue with the two primary locations at Brigham Young University and Loyola-Marymount University – 4th Dialogue Series

As can be seen, the webcast-nature of this dialogue changed things significantly:

First, this series did not include public events or joint worship-cultural events.

Second, since we didn’t need to travel, we were able to include students in this iteration.

Third, this was the first series that did not include presented papers from each side of the dialogue teams. Instead, discussion leaders chose readings to be read and then guided the participants through a two-hour discussion.

Participants, LMU location – Mark Diamond (LMU), Tamar Frankiel (AJR-CA), Joshua Garroway (HUC), Jacob Rennaker (USC, Widtsoe Foundation), Holli Levitsky (LMU), Michael McNaught (LMU, Center for Religion and Spirituality), Zoé Zafman (student, LMU), Sarah Markowitz (student, LMU), and Matthew Stirling (student, LMU)
Participants, BYU location – Ilana Schwartzman (Kol Ami, SLC), Andrew Reed (BYU), Shon Hopkin (BYU), Quin Monson (BYU), Barbara Morgan Gardner (BYU, participating from location in St. Louis), Janiece Johnson (BYU, Maxwell Institute), Eric Huntsman (BYU), Jared Ludlow (BYU), Maddie Blonquist (student, BYU), Jake Smith (student, BYU)

LDS-Jewish Dialogue, Diamond (1).jpg
Opening slide from Mark Diamond and Andrew Reed’s discussion: ‘Core Documents of Jewish-Christian Interfaith Engagement”

Session 1: Core Documents of Jewish-Christian Interfaith Engagement; Discussion leaders: Rabbi Mark Diamond (LMU) and Andrew Reed (BYU). Topics discussed: Jews, Mormons, and evangelizing; Covenant; Supercessionism. Both sides of the dialogue team recognized that there is much room for discussion in this area.


  • Nostra Aetate (1965 Roman Catholic statement on the relation of the church to non-Christian religions)
  • Dabru Emet (2002 Jewish statement on Christians and Christianity)
  • The Willowbank Declaration (1989 Protestant declaration of the Christian gospel and the Jewish people; this is more theologically exclusive in nature than the following reading)
  • A Sacred Obligation (2002 Protestant declaration on Christian-Jewish relations; this is more theologically inclusive in nature than the previous reading)
  • God’s Love For Mankind (1978 LDS statement on other religions and religious leaders)
  • No Religion is an Island (1966 lecture by Abraham Heschel at the Union Theological Seminary)
LDS-Jewish Dialogue, Johnson (1).jpg
Sitting at the dialogue table at BYU. Left to right: Andrew Reed (BYU), Janiece Johnson (BYU, Maxwell Institute), Jared Ludlow (BYU), Ilana Schwartzman (Rabbi, Kol Ami)

Session 2: Mormon Female Writings; Discussion leader: Janiece Johnson (BYU); The planned discussion leader on the Jewish side was unable to continue due to other pressing needs.


  • History of Joseph Smith by his Mother, Ch. 18 (Lucy Mack Smith’s memoir is likely the most read woman’s book among Latter-day Saints.)
  • Eliza R. Snow: The Complete Poetry, poems 97, 152, 156, 263, 413 (Eliza R. Snow was an early Mormon convert who became a plural wife of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. She also led the Relief Society for 21 years.  Virginia Sorensen, A Little Lower Than the Angels, chapter 15, fictionalizing a piece of Eliza R. Snow’s life. (A recent Brigham Young University graduate in 1942, Sorensen was overwhelmed by the positive attention to her novel about Mormon polygamy.)
  • Stephanie Meyer, Twilight, chapter 3. (Meyer, also a BYU graduate, published the first volume of the Twilight series in 2005, and has since sold over 100 million copies of the series.)
  • Stephanie Nielson, Nie Nie Dialogues [Mormon Mommy Blog], August 2008,; and January 2017, (Nielson is perhaps the most successful Mommy Blogger. The two selections look at her writing just prior to a tragic accident and then 9 years later.)
  • Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History Introduction xiii-xxxiv. (Pulitzer prize winner Ulrich coined the popular phrase here used as the title for this book. Pages xxvii-xxxi focus on her own experiences that led her to that observation.)

dialogue (1).jpg
The Webcast. Top bar, left to right: Barb Morgan (BYU, joining from remote location), LMU location, BYU location. Main screen, LMU table, left to right: Mark Diamond (LMU), Zoé Zafman (student, LMU), Matthew Stirling (student, LMU), Sarah Markowitz (student, LMU), Joshua Garroway (HUC), Tamar Frankiel (AJR-CA), Jacob Rennaker (USC, Widtsoe Foundation)

Session 3: Women and Lived Religion in Jewish and Mormon Culture; Discussion leaders: Tamar Frankiel (AJR-CA) and Barbara Morgan Gardner (BYU)


Main Jewish readings: 

Optional Jewish readings:

LDS readings.

These readings all approach similar issues of women’s place/role in the religious life of the LDS church, but do so from varying perspectives, the first from a main, LDS male leader, the second from a well-known LDS female leader, the third from a female voice looking for ways to broaden the impact of women in the LDS church without overstepping current institutional boundaries of not ordaining women to priesthood office, and the fourth from a well-known Mormon feminist who advocates greater roles in church leadership for LDS women, even if it requires changing the current LDS practice of not ordaining women to priesthood office.

  • Elder M. Russell Ballard (LDS Apostle), Women of Dedication, Faith, Determination and Action; from BYU Women’s Conference, Friday, May 1, 2015
  • Sheri Dew, Women & the Priesthood (2013), introductory chapter
  • Neylan McBaine, Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women’s Local Impact (2014), introductory chapter
  • Joanna Brooks, Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings (2016), introductory chapter