Rome (Jan. 27)
– Rabbi Henry Sobel, a leading Rabbi of Sao Paolo in Brazil, presented Pope John Paul II with a mezuzah made of Jerusalem stone during a 30-minute audience with the Pontiff at the Vatican Saturday. He said he told the Pope that it was a symbol of “the fraternity of the human race united under God,” and also an affirmation of “the indivisibility of Jerusalem and the Jewish people.”
The Pope replied that Jerusalem is “the city of peace for all religions,” Sobel reported. He said their discussion was an inter-religious dialogue “which did not exclude our differences.” He added, however, that it was also a sign of the Vatican’s commitment “to develop friendship in a spirit of mutual respect and beneficial coexistence.”
Sobel said the Pope told him that “together we are looking for a new dimension of relationship,” and that the world must learn from the Holocaust that there must be no more victims of persecution, prejudice and hate, Jews and all minorities in general.
The rabbi said he observed to the Pope at that point that while anti-Semitism begins by attacking Jews, it ends by destroying the basis of society as a whole. He said the high point of their meeting was a ecumenical prayer of thanks for the release of the 52 American hostages from Iran. “We asked God that these acts of barbarism, terror and fanaticism will never be repeated anywhere in the world,” he said.