Pope John Paul II at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. March 2000

Pope John Paul II at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

March 2000

“As Christians and Jews, following the example of the faith of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing to the world.  This is the common task awaiting us.  It is therefore necessary for us, Christians and Jews, to first be a blessing to one another.” 

Pope John Paul II, on the 50th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

On View September 6, 2006 – March 16, 2007

At the Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust

In the course of his papacy, John Paul II shattered the chain of 2,000 years of painful history between Catholics and Jews, becoming the first pope ever to enter a synagogue, officially visit and recognize the State of Israel, and formally engage in an act of repentance for the Catholic Church’s historical treatment of Jews. 

  

Born Karol Wojtyla, the future pope grew up in Wadowice, Poland, and established many friendships with Jewish children.  As a young man in Krakow during the Nazi occupation, Wojtyla was forced to take his university studies underground, aware of how much worse it was for his Jewish friends and neighbors; the plight of those in the Krakow Ghetto remained with him throughout his life.  Years later as bishop of Krakow, he established close and personal ties with the Jewish community, and participated in the Second Vatican Council’s dramatic change in the Church’s relationship with other religions.

  

Pope John Paul II greets Rabbi Elio Toaff, chief rabbi of Rome, during his visit to the Synagogue of Rome.

Pope John Paul II greets Rabbi Elio Toaff, chief rabbi of Rome, during his visit to the Synagogue of Rome.

Exclusively for the exhibition’s New York run, the Museum has secured a unique artifact from Yad Vashem -- the note left by Pope John Paul II at the Western Wall in Jerusalem during his historic pilgrimage to Israel in 2000. At the exhibition’s end, visitors will be able to write prayers and place them in a replica of the Western Wall. These prayers will be transferred to Jerusalem after the exhibition closes.

       

A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People was created and produced by Xavier University (Cincinnati), Hillel Jewish Student Center (Cincinnati), and The Shtetl Foundation. The New York exhibition is presented by the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust thanks to the generosity of Peter S. Kalikow, The Russell Berrie Foundation, The Fritz and Adelaide Kauffmann Foundation; the Ollendorff Center for Religious and Human Understanding, the Oster Family Foundation, and the Theodore and Renee Weiler Foundation. The Museum thanks the Pave the Way Foundation and the Center for Interreligious Understanding. The lead financial sponsors of A Blessing To One Another are the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati and Xavier University. Media sponsorship provided by New York Post

 

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Photos courtesy of Xavier University