Rabbi Dr. Abraham Skorka
Visiting Distinguished Professor at Gratz College
A native of Argentina, Rabbi Dr. Abraham Skorka is the Visiting Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies at Gratz College. In 1973 he graduated from the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano (Rabbinical Seminary of Latin America) as an ordained Rabbi. Six years later he received a Ph.D. in Chemistry from The University of Buenos Aires. A prolific scholar, he has published scholarly articles in biophysics and in Biblical and Talmudic studies.
He served as the Rabbi of Benei Tikva synagogue in Buenos Aires for 42 years and as the rector of the Rabbinical Seminary of Latin America for 20 years.
His most important contributions to scholarship and humanity are in the field of interfaith dialogue. He is widely published in this area. His most famous publication was Sobre el Cielo y la Tierra (2010), co-authored with the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. In 2013, Cardinal Bergoglio was elevated to his current position as Pope Francis. The English translation of the book was published in 2013 with the title On Heaven and Earth. Rabbi Skorka had worked closely with Cardinal Bergoglio on interfaith issues for many years. Because of this relationship and their co-authored work, Dr. Skorka has become known as “The Pope’s Rabbi.”
In 2010 La Universidad Católica Argentina awarded Rabbi Skorka an honorary degree, marking the first time that a Catholic university in Latin America had given an honorary degree to a rabbi. He has also received honorary degrees from the Jewish Theological Seminary and Sacred Heart University. He has received awards and honors from the City of Buenos Aires, the Polish Council of Christians and Jews; and the St. Leo University Center for Catholic and Jewish Understanding. In 2017, he received the Jan Karski Eagle Award. Past recipients of this award have included Elie Wiesel, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Abraham H. Foxman.
From 2017-18, Skorka was a University Visiting Professor at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, and since 2020 has served as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Gratz College. He has taught in Gratz’s Interfaith Leadership program, led by Dr. Ruth Sandberg, and is working with Golda Retchkiman, a student in Gratz’s doctoral program in Holocaust Studies who was selected to participate in an independent study experience. Supervised by adjunct faculty member, Josey Fisher, Retchkiman is preparing a paper about the life and work of Rabbi Skorka, his long friendship with Pope Francis, and his enduring involvement in interfaith understanding.
As an additional part of his engagement at Gratz, Rabbi Skorka is recording a series of interviews. Session topics include growing up Jewish in Argentina; his close friendship with Pope Francis; his views on interfaith study; and, his trip to Jerusalem with the Pope and Muslim cleric Sheik Omar Abboud. Rabbi Skorka is also recording a series of conversations in which he interviews renowned Holocaust scholars from around the world. See his extensive video collection below.