ROME (Oct. 18)
The 120-member United Jewish Appeal mission paid tribute to Pope John XXIII yesterday at a papal audience marked by a complete absence of stiffness or formality. The Pope greeted members of the delegation with warmth, and apologized for being unable to shake hands with all members of the group. The group visited Rome under the auspices of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. It is on a fact finding survey of conditions in Europe, and Israel in connection with the UJA campaign for 1961. The group left for Israel after the visit to the Pope. (A Tel Aviv dispatch reported that the UJA mission arrived in Israel today.)
The Pope shook hands with Rabbi Herbert Friedman, executive vice-chairman of the UJA, Benjamin Swig of San Francisco and Adolph Keisler of Denver. Rabbi Friedman read the greetings to the Pope from a hand-inscribed scroll which Mr. Swig presented to the Pontiff. The greetings declared:
“Each of us has long been engaged in the work of saving refugee lives and rebuilding Israel through the UJA, a purely humanitarian organization drawing support not only from the vast majority of American Jews but also from great numbers of Americans of every faith. We come as well to renew our appreciation to the Holy See for the outstanding role which church members had, particularly in France and Italy, in saving many Jewish lives, especially those of children in the days of the Hitler terror and World War II.”
The Pope replied in Italian, speaking for 15 minutes. Declaring “I am your brother,” he recalled the dark days when, as Papal Nuncio in Istanbul, he received a Jerusalem rabbi who came to seek help for Jerusalem Jews. He said he and the rabbi talked for two hours, not as clergyman to clergyman but as friends.
Pope John expressed appreciation for the work of the UJA, and the warmest feeling for the Jewish people. He said: “We are all children of the same Father. Beginning with that basis, nothing can keep us from getting closer to each other.”
Moses A. Leavitt, executive vice-president of the JDC, outlined the work of JDC in European and Moslem countries. Rabbi Friedman expressed the mission’s satisfaction with the positive record of JDC, saying “it gives us a feeling that UJA money was well spent, and did the job for which it was intended.”