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Jewish Cantor Recites Psalms in Hebrew in Catholic Church in Spain

Max Mazin, president of the Madrid Jewish Community, preached a sermon here last night from the lectern in a Catholic church, after a Jewish cantor and a priest had alternated in intoning verses from Psalms, accompanied by the organ in the vast Augustinian-conducted Church of Santa Rita.

For the first time in history, Jews and Catholics participated in what they called a “Judeo-Christian Paraliturgy,” a service in which the Jewish and Catholic liturgies were recited in parallel versions to illustrate the spirit of ecumenism. The event was conducted before a crowded congregation of about 2,000 persons, with the first two rows of pews reserved for “the Jewish brethren.” The occasion had been organized by the Jewish-Christian Friendship Society of Madrid, of which Mr. Mazin and the Rev. Vincente Serrano, a young Augustinian priest, are the chairmen.

The Psalms were recited by Simon Amar, a 38-year-old Moroccan Jew who is the cantor of the Madrid Synagogue. After he had intoned some Psalms in Hebrew, other verses were chanted in Latin and Spanish by the Rev. Jesus Alvarez, pastor of Santa Rita. The cantor, wearing a black yarmulke, was accompanied by a small choir of Jewish youths. Also participating in the services were Samuel Toledano, a vice-president of the Madrid Synagogue, and the Rev. Candelas Moriones, provincial of the Augustinian Order.

Mr. Mazin, in his sermon, referred to the “innumerable, historic vicissitudes, many of them sad and grave from both sides” which had beset the religious life of Spain, thus pointing to the centuries-old rift between Catholics and Jews here since the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. He noted, however, that, at last, men and ideas had emerged, permitting “a reconciliation, a new attitude, a rectification of the relations that have prevailed between us during centuries and millenia.”

Father Alvarez delivered the sermon on behalf of the Augustin community. Recalling that he had shared the Passover seder with Jewish friends, he said “now they came to be with us.” He deplored anti-Semitism and the evils it had wrought, declaring that “both the anti-Semitism of the Christians and the anti-Christianism of Jews were an insult to God.”

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