Shalom Life | April 23, 2014

New Pope No Stranger to Jewish Life

Francis I Attended Rosh Hashanah Services in Buenos Aires

By: Leonard Carl

Published: March 13th, 2013 in News » World

New Pope No Stranger to Jewish Life
After the white smoke cleared from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel on March 13th letting the world know that a new Pope had been elected, it was Jorge Mario Bergoglio, an Argentinian cardinal, who was selected for the role as leader of the worldwide Catholic Church.

The new pontiff, who will be known as Francis I, is no stranger to Jewish life, and, according to reports, has a good relationship with the Jews of his native Argentina.

During his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio, 76, attended Rosh Hashanah services at the Benei Tikva Slijot synagogue in 2007.

Following the horrific 1994 bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA; Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) Bergoglio "showed solidarity with the Jewish community," Rabbi David Rosen, the director of interfaith affairs for the American Jewish Committee, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) adding that the new pope is a "warm and sweet and modest man" known in Buenos Aires for doing his own cooking and personally answering his phone.

After the bombing, Bergoglio was the first public personality to sign a petition for justice in the bombing case. In June 2010, he visited the rebuilt AMIA building where he met with Jewish leaders.

Bergoglio also wrote the foreward of a book by Rabbi Sergio Bergman who called him “one of my teachers.”

Last November, Bergoglio hosted a Kristallnacht commemoration ceremony at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral.
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