Menu JTA Search

Jewish Religious Leaders Say Pope’s Visit Will Have Little Affect on U.S. Jewish Community

Jewish religious leaders were in agreement today that the visit of Pope John Paul II to the United States would have little affect on the American Jewish community. Orthodox, Conservative and Reform leaders were interviewed just before the Pope addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Rabbi Bernard Rosensweig, president of the Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox), said while the Jewish community is respectful toward the Pope, his visit will not affect them since he is principally in the U.S. to visit his own flock, American Catholics Rosensweig said that since the Pope is visiting the United Nations he would like to see the Pope announce that the Vatican will recognize Israel and establish diplomatic relations with the Jewish State.

Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly of America (Conservative), agreed that the Pope’s visit would have little affect on the Jewish community. Like Rosensweig, Kelman said he did not expect the Papal visit to increase Catholic proselytizing He said John Paul II affirmed at a meeting with Jewish leaders at the Vatican that he was opposed to proselytizing in the Jewish community.

But Kelman complained about the extensive coverage the media has given the Pope’s visit and Catholic issues as compared to what he said was a “neglect” of Jewish issues.

Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Reform), said the only affect could come from the stress by the Pope throughout his visit on religious values in a materialistic world Schindler was also interested in what the Pope would say to a UN that he charged was dominated by “radical Arab states.”

SCENE IN BOSTON

Meanwhile, the Pope’s visit to Boston yesterday caused some problems for the congregants of Temple Sinai in Brookline who have been observing Yom Kippur at the John Hancock Hall in Copley Square in Boston for the last 10 years. The seating capacity at the hall is 1100. The temple in Brookline seats only 400 and previously Yom Kippur services had to be held in two shifts.

After the Pope’s visit to Boston had been arranged, Rabbi Frank Waldorf of Temple Sinai was reported to have gotten a call from a secretary at the John Hancock building asking if it would be possible to postpone the Yom Kippur services for a day because of the Pope’s visit. The rabbi took the call good-naturedly, saying he realized the secretary did not understand the meaning of Yom Kippur.

A concern was expressed by Jewish community leaders, it was reported, when it was decided that the city and police department would issue certificates to Jews having to move into and out of the cordoned-off central city area, where thousands of people were gathered for the Pope’s visit, in order to attend the synagogue services there. Those Jews who had to drive into the area from outlying districts for the services would not have been able to do so, since all traffic was barred.

The plan was criticized and compared with the issuing of yellow arm bands bearing the Star of David in Nazi Germany and the Nazi occupied territories during World War II. It was decided instead that synagogues and temples would issue letters of authorization to be accepted by police and the National Guard for movement of their congregants into and out of the central city area.

Meanwhile, the Jewish Community Council of Metropolitan Boston sent a donation to the Archdiocese of Boston to help pay the costs for the Pope’s visit.

NEXT STORY