Something seems to guide popes to New York at moments of spiritual significance for Jews. John Paul landed here in October 1995 on Yom Kippur. Benedict now comes at Passover ...
History Awaits the Pope and the Rabbi
By CLYDE HABERMAN - The New York Times
April 15, 2008
This is a busy time for Rabbi Arthur Schneier, and his schedule will only become more complicated as the week winds down. Preparations must be made for Passover, which begins Saturday night. Like any rabbi who leads a congregation, he has to write a sermon for the Sabbath. Then he needs to come up with themes for Passover services on Sunday and Monday.
Oh, one other thing: He also has to welcome a pope.
The New York journey of Pope Benedict XVI will include a historic stop of 20 minutes or so late Friday afternoon at the Park East Synagogue on East 67th Street, where Rabbi Schneier has been the spiritual leader since 1962. “Historic” is an often abused word. But in this instance it isn’t misplaced.
Never before has a pope visited a synagogue in this country. Indeed, till now, there have been only two recorded papal visits to synagogues anywhere: by John Paul II in Rome in 1986 and by Benedict in Cologne, Germany, in 2005, four months after he ascended to the papacy.
So Benedict’s conversation with Jewish religious and lay figures at Park East — think of it, with absolute respect, as the Schmooze of the Fisherman — is a certified big deal, brief though it will be.
“I look at it as a message of good will by Pope Benedict, saluting the largest Jewish community in the world outside of Israel — New York — but in a greater context, American Jewry and world Jewry,” Rabbi Schneier said. “Basically, the message is: ‘I am continuing the outreach to the Jews.’ ”
Something seems to guide popes to New York at moments of spiritual significance for Jews.
John Paul landed here in October 1995 on Yom Kippur. Benedict now comes at Passover ...