A rabbi and a priest will lead an interfaith conversation, “Religion and Gender: Jewish and Catholic Perspectives,” from noon to 1:15 p.m. Thursday, March 1, in Room 100 of McNeely Hall on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.

The program is free and all are welcome. A buffet lunch will be served.

Leading the discussion will be Rabbi Sharon Stiefel, spiritual counselor and rabbi of Sholom Hospice for Sholom Community Alliance, and Father Erich Rutten, director of Campus Ministry at St. Thomas and chair of the Commission on Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Rabbi Sharon Stiefel

Within the worlds of Judaism and Catholicism, a variety of issues have to do with gender. Stiefel and Rutten will discuss some of the central issues, giving special attention to the challenge of involving young men in religious activities and the claim made by some observers that spirituality has become associated with femininity.

Stiefel holds a bachelor’s in sociology from Pomona College, a master’s in social work from the University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s in Hebrew letters from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Pennsylvania, where she was ordained.

She spent most of her career serving Jewish students on college and university campuses (Grinnell College, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Minnesota). In 2005 she received the University of Minnesota’s Breaking the Silence Award for confronting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identification.

Father Erich Rutten

Rutten holds a bachelor’s in economics from the University of Illinois-Champagne-Urbana, a master’s in systematic theology from St. John’s University in Collegeville, and master’s in divinity from the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Following his ordination, he became an associate pastor at the Cathedral of St. Paul and then the associate pastor of Our Lady of Grace in Edina.

Prior to becoming director of campus ministry in 2007, he taught in both the Theology Department and Justice and Peace Studies Program at St. Thomas.

The interfaith conversation is co-sponsored by the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning and Campus Ministry at St. Thomas.