Jewish American Heritage Month
May is Jewish American Heritage Month, a month to join in paying tribute to the generations of Jewish Americans who helped form the fabric of American history, culture and society. As we end this month, we want to highlight our own S. Betty Jane Lillie who has made many scholarly Biblical contributions over the years related to the Jewish faith. S. Betty Jane wrote book reviews for the Biblical Theology Bulletin, for Shofar, a Jewish journal for teachers of the Bible and a regular column on Scriptures for The Catholic Telegraph. She earned her doctorate in intertestamental Biblical literature from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, and taught Biblical Studies at Mount St. Mary of the West Seminary in both the Seminary Division and the Lay Pastoral Ministry Graduate Division, beginning in 1982. She also taught evening courses at the University of Cincinnati on the Epistles of St. Paul and the Old Testament.
A highlight of S. Betty Jane’s years of scholarship was an invitation to contribute to the creation of the six-volume Anchor Bible Dictionary in the 1990s. This was a major publishing event of this generation. The editors asked S. Betty Jane to write eight short articles about the period between the completion of the Hebrew Bible and the writing of Christian Scripture. She shared that the new series that resulted was ecumenical, inter-disciplinary and multi-cultural in scope. “It was a privilege to be invited to contribute to such a large project.” S. Betty Jane’s areas of specialty took place about three centuries before the time of Jesus. She stated, “I found it a pleasure to help create a reference work so free of the dogmatic presumptions of any church.”
In 2011 Sister was presented by The Union of Reform Judaism at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion with the Founder’s Medallion for “her work to maintain vibrant religious life in community and for bringing its tenets into the life of so many,” according to Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. S. Betty Jane is currently retired and living with her Sisters of Charity Community at Mount St. Joseph, Ohio.