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Israel Government, U.S. Jewry Join in World Grief over Pope’s Death

October 10, 1958
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Israel’s Foreign Minister, Mrs. Golda Meir, now attending the General Assembly of the United Nations here, today joined in the expressions of regret over the passing of Pope Pius XII who, during the Nazi period, protected many Jews in Italy from being deported to Nazi Germany.(President Ben Zvi of Israel sent a separate message of condolence. ) In her statement, Mrs. Meir said:

“We share in the grief of humanity at the passing away of His Holiness Pope Pius XII. In a generation afflicted by wars and discords, he upheld the highest ideals of peace and compassion. When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was uplifted in condemnation of the persecutors and in compassion for their victims. The life of our time was enriched by a voice speaking out on the great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn the great servant of peace. ”

(In Israel, Chief Rabbi Itzhak Herzog stated that the death of Pope Pius XII is a loss to the world at large. He recalled in his appreciation the audience given to him by the Pope in 1946, when he invoked the latter’s assistance for the restoration of Jewish children who were torn from the arms of their families during the Nazi holocaust, and paid tribute to the profound learning and high ideals of the late Pope.)

The Synagogue Council of America, representing national rabbinical and congregational organizations of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews, recalled “with gratitude the succor and refuge that he gave to refugees of all races during World War II. ” The Union of American Hebrew Congregations issued a statement through its president, Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath, expressing a “profound sense of sorrow” over the passing of the Pope. ” The revered Pontiff will long be remembered for his earnest exertions for peace, for his rescue of many victims of Nazis, for cordiality towards men and women of all faiths, ” the statement declared.

Other American Jewish groups joined in expressing grief over the death of the late Pope. His words condemning racial bias and “attempts at genocide” were recalled universally.

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