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Jewish Leaders Express Sorrow at Death of Cardinal Cushing

Jewish leaders expressed sorrow today over the death yesterday at the age of 75 of Richard Cardinal Cushing. Archbishop of Boston since 1944 and a friend of Israel and the Jews. Philip E. Hoffman, president of the American Jewish Committee, said “Jewish people throughout the world will always remember with satisfaction Cardinal Cushing’s efforts to achieve an honest and meaningful statement on the Roman Catholic Church and the Jews five years ago in Rome at the Second Vatican Council.” Cardinal Cushing he said, “was at the forefront in this tremendously important endeavor,” and “the positive results of Vatican Council II will be a lasting memorial to the Cardinal.” World Jewry. Mr. Hoffman said, “has lost a friend and champion.” Seymour Graubard, national chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. said Jews the world over will always remember the dramatic plea Cardinal Cushing made on the floor of Vatican Council II five years ago in Rome. “His distinctive voice echoed through the chamber as he asked the Council to “cry out” against “any inequity, hatred or persecution of our Jewish brothers,” Mr. Graubard stated. “He was a man of deep humanity who did indeed consider all men his brothers. The Anti-Defamation League was privileged to have worked with him in the search for better interreligious relations. His name will always evoke deep respect and profound admiration.”

Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, declared that “Long before it became fashionable for Catholic prelates to participate in interreligious functions, Cardinal Cushing did so in the Boston area.” The Archbishop “had many close, personal friends in the Jewish community,” the CCAR leader continued, and “His concern for fairness and justice on behalf of the State of Israel always received his major priority.” Rabbi Gittelsohn, spiritual leader of Temple Israel, Boston, concluded his tribute to Cardinal Cushing with: “Of him, as of great sages in our faith, do we repeat the words of tradition, ‘The memory of a truly righteous person is a blessing.'”

Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, vice president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, stated that Cardinal Cushing’s death “is an irreparable loss, not only for the Catholic community… but also for the entire religious community.” The Cardinal, he said, was “a great spirit” because “he was what he enjoined others to be–compassionate and understanding.” The UAHC official added that Cardinal Cushing “was a liberal in the truest sense of the word, practicing the principles of ecumenism long before the term became fashionable.” Catholics’ loss, the Jewish leader concluded, “is our loss as well.” Cardinal Cushing, whose efforts at ecumenism extended to synagogue oratory, received a rare tribute when he implored Vatican Council II to reject the doctrine of Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus. The bishops, who normally do not applaud speakers, did so for him. The prelate wrote recently of Israel: “(It) is not just a homeland for the persecuted and the oppressed, it is not just a refuge for a people the world abused–it is for the Jews the fulfillment of prophecy, the return to the Promised Land, the realization of the divine covenant, the answer to the prayers of generations…”

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