Special to the JTA Three Rabbis to Attend Papal Ceremonies in South Carolina
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Special to the JTA Three Rabbis to Attend Papal Ceremonies in South Carolina

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When Pope John Paul II visits this city, the capital of South Carolina, on Friday, on the second leg of his tour of the United States, three state Jewish leaders will attend the ceremonies.

Dr. William Rosenthall, rabbi of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, the historic Reform congregation in Charleston, will attend the service at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, but not the service at the Williams-Brice Stadium which about 60,000 are expected to attend.

Rabbi Milton Schlaiger of Sumter and Rabbi Gary Perras, formerly of Charleston but now of Jacksonville, Fla., will also attend. Rabbi Sanford Marcus of Columbia’s Tree of Life Temple will not attend because the time will conflict with Sabbath preparations and also because of his “dismay” by the meeting the Pope had with Austrian President Kurt Waldheim.

Jewish leaders in the state received letters several weeks ago asking whether they would like to receive invitations to the events in Columbia. Those who replied affirmatively, like Rosenthall, subsequently received formal invitations. One reason for the decision of Rosenthall to attend is the close interfaith bonds that exist in Charleston among the various denominations, exemplified by the Christian-Jewish Council, in which many Charleston Jews participate.


Rosenthall stated that the “basic reason for my attendance is a demonstration of friendship for the Roman Catholic community of South Carolina.” Rosenthall said he is going to present a letter to the Pope, basically a request that the Vatican recognize the State of Israel.

Charleston clergy cooperated during a march of the Klu Klux Klan in downtown Charleston on Sunday, Aug. 2, by holding an interfaith service simultaneously at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, a few blocks from the march. Rosenthall and the Bishop of Charleston, The Most Reverend Ernest Unterkoefler, participated in this service and a similar service held in the suburb of Summerville where the Klan marched a few months ago.

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