The Pope Meets Australian Jews
Interfaith Meeting with Benedict XVI and Australian Jews
On Friday 18th July, during World Youth Day, Pope Benedict XVI met with forty interfaith leaders at St Mary's Cathedral Chapter House. The group included Christian women, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and Zoroastrians. Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence, chief rabbi of the Great Synagogue, Sydney, gave the welcoming speech on behalf of the Jewish community. The Jewish delegation included David Knoll, President of the News South Wales Jewish Board of Deputeis, Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, Chief Minister of Emanuel Synagogue, Robert Goot, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Josie Lacey-the Board of Deputies Interfaith Chair, John Landerer, President of the Sydney Jewish Museum and Rabbi Zalman Kastel, National Director of the "Together for Humanity Foundation". Rabbi Lawrence said that such encounters as the one taking place served to emphasise our shared concerns for the environment, humankind and social justice. Two youth representatives, Judith Levitan and Josh Levin also attended. A second welcoming speech was given by Sheikh Saleem, before the Pope addressed the group.
Pope John Paul II in Australia
Pope John Paul II visited Australia twice during his long pontificate, in 1986 receiving a delegation from the Australian Jewish commmunity at St Mary's Cathedral, and in January 1995 met Jewish representatives at an interfaith function in Sydney's Domain. The featured photo was taken in 1986, and shows John Paul II being presented with a Haggadah and Australian Genesis,a book on the origins of the Australian Jewish community. The Jewish delegation was headed by Leslie Caplan (on the right of the Pope in this photo) President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. Also pictured are Archbishop (later Cardinal)Edward Clancy (from left), the Vatican Head of State Cardinal Casaroli, Rabbi Raymond Apple, Professor Graham de Vahl Davis and Robert Zablud. Also present were Mark Leibler (Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council National Chairman), Isi Leibler, Malvina Malinek, president of the National Council of Jewish Women and Jeremy Jones (foreground at right).
When Pope John Paul II visited Australia again in 1995, his good memory for faces and names stood him in good stead, and he recognised Jeremy Jones (pictured with on the right front . Jeremy Jones was the only Australian Jew to have met the pontiff twice in an official capacity - in 1986, as the Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director, and in 1995 as its vice-president.
The previous Pope,Paul VI visited Australia in late November 1970, his tour in Sydney being arranged by the late Sir Asher Joel. During his stay, as his successor had done, he met with a delegation of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, who included Rabbi Israel Porush, Rabbi of the Great Synagogue (1940-1972), Rabbi Rudolph Brasch (Temple Emanuel), Harry Goldstein (President of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies) and Gerald Falk (President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry). The latter was the son of Rabbi Leib Aisack Falk of the Great Synagogue, who designed the silver menorah that still stands before the bimah in the synagogue. The library that bears his name is part of the synagogue collection and contains many rare items of Judaica. Pope Benedict XVI is continuing the previous Pope's efforts at good relations with the Jewish community and with Muslims.