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The Pope Benedict I knew: A keeper of his faith with a deep respect for Judaism



(JTA) — I was first introduced to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict XVI, in the late 1980s when he was visiting Jerusalem. Teddy Kollek, mayor of Jerusalem, was eager for me to meet with the cardinal, telling me that I would discover a very different person from the image portrayed in the general media. He was so correct.

That image was in no small part the result of Pope John Paul II having made him the head of the Vatican Office for Doctrine and Faith, to enforce orthodox Catholic teaching. In addition, the fact that Ratzinger was a shy man with a professorial background and attitude often led people to see him as aloof and even cold.

He could not have been more different. I discovered a man of warmth and humor whose company was enjoyable and stimulating. Most significant for me was the discovery of the depth of his respect for Judaism and the Jewish people, something that always impressed me in the course of more than a dozen encounters with him when he was Pope, most of which were in my capacity as the American Jewish Committee’s international director of interreligious affairs.

He always reiterated his commitment to continuing the path of his predecessor in advancing Catholic-Jewish relations, and he highlighted the unique relationship between Christianity and Judaism.

Benedict XVI, who died Dec. 31 at age 95, was the first pope to ever invite Jewish leaders both to the funeral of a pontiff, and above all, to the celebration of his own coronation at which I was privileged to be one of those present.

Already during the first year of his pontificate he received many Jewish delegations and notable individuals, including the chief rabbis of Israel and the chief rabbi of Rome. In receiving the latter, he declared, “the Catholic Church is close and is a friend to you. Yes, we love you and we cannot but love you, because of the Fathers: through them you are very dear and beloved brothers to us.”

The last time I met him personally was well after he had demonstrated his genuine and impressive humility in stepping down as pontiff and devoting himself to study and prayer. I visited him at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican gardens. While he was physically weak his mind was still lucid.

We spoke in particular about the positive treatment of the Jewish scriptures in the work of the Pontifical Theological Commission that dealt with this subject, and which was published under his imprimatur. At that time, I recalled our first conversation in Jerusalem when he said to me, “your duty as a believing Jew is to be true to Torah, and everything that is holy for you must have theological meaning for us.”

I said to him, “You know there are many of us who see religious significance in the return of the Jewish people to its homeland.”

“Of course, I know,” he replied. “We must also view it as a sign of God’s fidelity to His covenant with the Jewish people that has sustained you, even if we cannot attribute to it the same theological meaning as you might.”

Cardinal Ratzinger was a member of the papal commission that ratified the Fundamental Agreement between the State of Israel and the Holy See, establishing full diplomatic relations between the two. It was my great privilege to have been part of the Israeli negotiating team that concluded that agreement.

One of Ratzinger’s closest Israeli friends, the late professor Zvi Werblovsky of Hebrew University, told me that the cardinal phoned him from Rome to express his joy and congratulations on the agreement, declaring it to be a fulfillment of Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council declaration of 1965 that revolutionized the Church’s teaching and approach towards Jews and Judaism.

During Benedict’s papacy a couple of serious crises in Jewish-Christian relations emerged relating to the Society of Saint Pius XII and to the wider provision of the Latin Mass and its text. These crises, as much a result of church governance mismanagement as anything else, were followed by clarifications that emphasized the Vatican’s commitment to Nostra Aetate; its unqualified rejection of antisemitism as a sin against God and man, and a complete disavowal of proselytization of Jews.

Unfortunately, they still did not completely repair the damage to Benedict XVI’s papacy. Nevertheless, Benedict explicitly and sincerely strove to continue to advance the paths of his predecessor, especially regarding the relationship between the Church and the Jewish People.

In repeating his predecessor’s dramatic gestures of going to the great synagogue in Rome; of paying homage in Auschwitz to the victims of the Holocaust, and of making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he paid respects to the State of Israel’s highest national civic and religious authorities, Pop Benedict institutionalized such steps, demonstrating the sincerity of Catholic-Jewish reconciliation for the Church as a whole.

The post The Pope Benedict I knew: A keeper of his faith with a deep respect for Judaism appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.

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Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary



By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)

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Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station



This is a developing story.

(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.

An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.

Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.

The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.

The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to  transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.

Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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