Jewish Communities in Italy, Chief Rabbis, Mourn Death of Pope

The Italian Jewish community, in public statement and in a message of condolence sent to the Vatican, expressed Italian Jewry’s sense of loss and mourning over the death of Pope Plus XII. The Israeli flag over the Israeli Embassy here was lowered to half-mast.

Both the community and Rome Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff took the occasion to underline the Pontiff’s numerous messages condemning racism during the Nazi-Fascist regimes and World War II, his contribution to a Nazi ransom for the Rome Jewish community and his call to Roman Catholic institutions to open their doors to Jews to provide sanctuary from persecution. “More than anyone else, the Jews have experienced the great piety and immense generosity of Plus XII during the infamous years of persecution and terror.” Rabbi Toaff declared.

(Jewish communities throughout the world sent messages of condolence to the Vatican and stressed Pope Plus’ humanitarian virtues. Messages were sent by Chief Rabbi Israel Brodie of Britain, Chief Rabbi Jacob Kaplan of France and Grand Rabbi Guillermo Schlesinger of Argentina, as well as the DAIA, central representative body of Argentine Jewry.)

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