Perfidious Jews, Older Brothers



This is a new and enlarged edition of Rabbi Toaff’s memoir who lived a 100 years and was Chief Rabbi in Italy for half of a century.

Historic was his encounter with John Paul II at the Synagogue of Rome on April 13, 1986.

“Do you have anything to do?” Cardinal Meyìa asked me in front of the canonical door. I answered no, breaking an old tradition. But I was worried about what the European rabbis would think. I consulted them one by one, they all told me yes. And so it came, on April 13, 1986, to John Paul II’s visit to the Great Temple, the Synagougue of Rome. It struck me that the Pope, embracing me, called us “older brothers” instead of “perfidious jews,” as in Peter’s times. “

It was the first time in the 2000 years of variegated relations between the Church of Rome and the Jewish community that a chief rabbi of the city had accepted an invitation to meet with a Pope. Although Rome’s Jews never suffered pogroms or similar persecutions, they have been, in past centuries, subjected to many levels of humiliation, including forced attendance at sermons aimed at their conversion.

Il Mulino

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