Christian Stückl to Receive American Jewish Committee Isaiah Award

American Jewish Committee (AJC) will honor Christian Stückl, director of the Oberammergau Passion Play, with its prestigious Isaiah Award for Exemplary Interreligious Leadership. The AJC award, honoring extraordinary achievement in interfaith endeavors, will be presented to Stückl by Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC’s Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, on August 10, in Oberammergau, Germany.

Stückl, an Oberammergau native who became the legendary decennial play’s director in 1990, has been unrelenting in his commitment to eliminating anti-Jewish tropes and visuals in the production. “Let there be no doubt: in Oberammergau, in the play, antisemitism has no place, and it has no place in the lives of the performers either,” Stückl declared in advance of the 2022 edition of the play, delayed two years due to the pandemic.

Stückl has worked closely with AJC since the 1980s, including most recently with the AJC Oberammergau Academic Advisory Group, comprised of American Christian and Jewish scholars. “Stückl’s most lasting legacy will be his careful portrayal of the Jewish character and context of Jesus and the story. The play no longer presents a timeless picture of Jews murdering the founder of Christianity,” wrote Rabbi Marans and the Rev. Peter A. Pettit, teaching pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa, in an RNS oped in May.

Directing the play for the fourth time, Stückl has transformed the production, most notably by highlighting the Jewishness of Jesus and his followers and clarifying that only the Roman Pontius Pilate – and not the Jews – could condemn Jesus to death. He inaugurated the principal actors’ pilgrimage to Israel as part of their play preparation; added a critical and now beloved play scene with hundreds singing Sh’ma Yisrael, the central Jewish prayer, as Jesus raises a Torah facsimile; and regularly uses Oberammergau and its play as a vehicle for German-Jewish and Christian-Jewish dialogue. To paraphrase a rabbinic aphorism, for Stückl the work will never be done, but he does not feel free to desist from it.

Since its founding in 1906, AJC, the leading global Jewish advocacy organization, has consistently been the primary Jewish force in interreligious and intergroup relations. Past recipients of AJC’s Isaiah Award include Dr. Billy Graham, Dr. Martin E. Marty, Cardinal John O’Connor, Professor Thomas E. Bird, Cardinal Edward Cassidy, Rev. Dr. William Harter, Archbishop Demetrios, Cardinal Walter Kasper, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan.


AJC was the first global Jewish organization to engage with the Federal Republic of Germany after World War II. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, AJC again took the lead as the first Jewish organization to support German unification, believing in the spirit of reconciliation and friendship. The AJC Berlin Lawrence and Lee Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations opened in 1998, making AJC the first American Jewish advocacy organization with a permanent presence in Berlin. AJC Berlin helps ensure that Europe and Germany remain a home for the Jewish people, a friend of Israel, and an indispensable ally of the United States.

In 2019, AJC launched a dynamic website, www.ajc.org/OberammergauPassionPlay, that introduces visitors to a Christian-Jewish relations perspective on the play, answers frequently asked questions, and houses diverse resources on the subject.