No relationship is easy, especially when it follows centuries of mistrust and persecution of one party by the other.
The Catholic-Jewish relationship is no exception. However, thanks to the efforts of many good people, both Jewish and Catholic, it is strong and flourishing here in Pittsburgh.
This is why The Jewish Chronicle’s choice to publish an inflammatory cartoon that reaches a verdict on the open question of Pope Pius XII’s wartime efforts to save the Jews of Europe was so ill conceived.
While it is the position of the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee that the canonization of saints is an internal church affair, we do believe that an authentic and honest relationship demands that both groups consider the sensibilities of the other when making controversial decisions, especially one such as this, which could hurt and offend Holocaust survivors.
We respectfully call for the full and speedy opening of the archives and their examination by independent scholars so that they may thoroughly assess the church’s actions and policies during this tragic period. (The Vatican has said those archives won’t be catalogued and ready until 2014 at the earliest.)
However, until a definitive moral verdict emerges, a cartoon depicting a pope who is indifferent to Jewish suffering is unfair and demeans the enormous changes made in church teachings since the Second Vatican Council, which called for good relations with the Jewish people and unequivocally rejected anti-Semitism.
Deborah R. Fidel
(The author is director of the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee.)
Safe place for dialogue
On Feb. 4, I attended the third J Street event in Pittsburgh since the first National Conference in October 2009. What was special to me was not only the vibrant music of ISHTAR and excellent food, or even J Street’s Executive Director Jeremy Ben Ami’s short live-fed video speech; rather, it was the discussions amongst different groups of people of our community who are interested in peace and democracy in Israel.
People who came and participated were from different backgrounds with a variety of ideas and opinions, who,
nonetheless, were willing to listen to different approaches than their own. This reminded me of a time during the 1982 War in Lebanon when a panel discussion on my kibbutz featured three members who had fought in the war and disagreed with one another about how far the army needed to push into Lebanon.
In that same respect, the J Street launching of its grassroots program was successful. We know that there are thousands of Jewish people with various opinions who are seeking the same goals for Israel. J Street Pittsburgh is proving that it is able to provide them with a safe place to dialogue.
Ivan C. Frank