Following weeks of international Jewish-Catholic disputes over a controversial Good Friday prayer, Jewish and Catholic leaders in this country are looking for a good Friday, preceded by a good Thursday — days when Pope Benedict XVI has scheduled meetings with the Jewish community — to restore the improving tenor of interfaith dialogue.
During his 43 years as a human rights activist, Rabbi Arthur Schneier has met three popes in the Vatican.
Next week the current head of the Catholic Church will pay the rabbi a return visit.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced on Thursday that Pope Benedict XVI will visit Park East Synagogue on the Upper East Side on the afternoon of Friday, April 18, during the pontiff's first trip to the United States. Only two popes are known to have previously set foot in a synagogue: Benedict XVI in Cologne in 2005, and his predecessor, John Paul II, in Rome in 1986.
The Jewish connection to the Olympic Games is as old as the modern Olympics movement. Unfortunately, some of the connections are tragic, like the murder of 11 members of Israel’s team at the Munich Games in 1972.
Last week The Jewish Week looked at some largely unknown parts of Olympic Jewish history. This week, the Olympics and the Holocaust.
Shortly after he moved here in 2001, Rome-born journalist Maurizio Molinari went shopping in a Manhattan supermarket where he found a wide variety of certified-kosher items. “It was not a Jewish store,” he notes.
Before Sukkot he noticed lulav-and-etrog sets being sold by vendors along West 72nd Street. No one seemed surprised, he says. “For the non-Jews, it was normal.”
One day he went to a Barnes & Noble bookstore. A “huge Judaica section” stood out. Most of the shoppers in the store, as he recalls, weren’t Jewish.
Shortly after a little-known cardinal from Poland was elected spiritual head of the Catholic Church in 1978, Rabbi Arthur Schneier received a call from a network television correspondent asking for comment. The correspondent, who “equated Poles with anti-Semitism,” assumed that Rabbi Schneier, a Holocaust survivor and president of the Manhattan-based Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an ecumenical human rights organization, would comment negatively on the new pope, the rabbi recalls.
You could see the backlash coming.
A yarmulke-wearing rabbi from Yeshiva University goes to the Vatican and finds secret insults to the pope and Jewish mystical codes embedded in Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel.
The rabbi, Benjamin Blech, teams up with Roy Doliner, a docent and guide at the Vatican, and their findings are published last week in the book, “The Sistine Secrets,” which claims that Michelangelo was influenced so greatly by Judaism that 95 percent of his painting depicts scenes from the Old Testament.