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July 31, 1981 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-07-31

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Friday, July 31, 1981


Detroit Rabbi Visits Jewish Convert: the Archbishop of Paris

(Continued from Page 1)
town. However, Cardinal
Dearden suggested that I
call Archbishop Lustiger
when I arrived in Paris to
see if he was still in the city
and if he could see me. I had
the concierge of my hotel
make the call, and after
clearing with a secretary,
the Archbishop himself
came to the phone at once. I
identified myself through
the letter Cardinal Dearden

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had written to him in May.
The Archbishop im-
mediately recalled the
correspondence but said he
was leaving Paris that
night. Could I come to his
home that afternoon?
The concierge gave me di-
rections, and said it was
only a 10-minute walk. It
turned out to be 30 minutes,
and I arrived just before 2
p.m. I made my way
through various narrow
streets of the Left Bank of
Paris, and after passing the
Italian Embassy with police
officers in front, and then
opposite the Archbishop's

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residence the Iranian Em-
bassy, also with police
standing guard, I rang the
The custodian's wife
answered, swung open
the gates and I found a
large courtyard with sev-
eral small cars parked
there. The custodian took
my card. He spoke no
English, telephoned the
residence, then, led me
across the courtyard up
some steps and into the
Archbishop's residence.
From the street it looked
like any other Parisian
apartment building with
a courtyard.
Once inside the residence,
however, the custodian led
me into a large reception
room with high, 16-foot ceil-
ings, decorated elaborately
in gold leaf in typical
French style. A garden in
the background seemed
somewhat lacking in care,
as was the front entrance to
the residence where some
repairs were in process.
After waiting a few mo-
ments, Archbishop Lustiger
entered the room and
greeted me warmly.,
I told him I brought
greetings from Cardinal
Dearden, and he at once
plunged into animated con-
versation in fluent English.
We sat down in the recep-
tion room overlooking the
garden. The room had four
armchairs, stationed in the
four corners of a well-worn
oriental rug. A library table
against the wall had an
ashtray. On the fireplace
mantle there was a series of
bronze medallions issued by
several popes, including
Pius XI and Pius XII, as
well as a box of cigars.
Our conversation began
with talking about Cardinal
Dearden and his recent re-
tirement, his Polish suc-
cessor, Archbishop Edmond
Szoka, and the concerns of
Catholics in America. He
was very interested to learn
of my association with the
University of Detroit, which
he had heard of, and what I
taught to Catholic semina-
rians, nuns, black students
and Catholic young people.
I told him how his name
had become world
famous, not simply be-
cause of his becoming the
new Archbishop of Paris,
but because of his Jewish
"Ah, yes, I know," he said,
"and not everyone is pleased
to know about that. But
there is much anti-
Semitism in Paris — ever
since the Dreyfus Affair,
even before that. Anti-
Semitism is deep-seated in
France and surfaces period-
"You have a great oppor-
tunity," I said, ''Because be-
fore long, I predict, you will
be a Cardinal and have
much influence at the Vati-
"You think so'?" he said
almost at a point of embar-
"Yes, I predict that, for
when Archbishop Dear-
den returned to Detroit
from Vatican II, I or-
ganized a testimonial
dinner in his honor at my


temple in appreciation of
all that he did on behalf of
the 'Jewish Schema' at
the Vatican Council. At
that dinner, I predicted
Archbishop Dearden
would soon be wearing a
red hat.
"A reporter' was present
and wrote a story that ap-
peared in the New York
Times the next day, with
the headline 'Detroit Rabbi
Predicts Next Cardinal.'
When this actually hap-
pened a short time later," I
said, "the new Cardinal
Dearden recalled the inci-
dents and we both had a
good laugh."
"I have not met Cardinal
Dearden," the Archbishop
said, "but I have heard great
things about him."
"Have you been to Is-
rael?" I asked.
"Many times, maybe 15
times. Years ago I used to be
the chaplain to Catholic
students at the Sorbonne in
Paris, and accompanied vis-
iting students to the Middle
East on pilgrimages. So I
know Israel very well."
"What about your par-
ents?" I asked.
"My mother perished
in Auschwitz, my father
is still alive and lives near
Paris. I see him often."
I looked at my watch.
"You have been certainly
most generous with your
"Not at all, I am honored
that you as a rabbi wanted
to see me. Most r a bbis prob-
ably would not care to see
I pressed further. "Were
you embarrassed about
leaving the Jewish fold for
the Church? Your father
must be very proud of your
promotion to this high
office," I suggested, "and of
your success in the
"Yes, he understands. I
am a Jew by birth. My
mother and father were
Jewish, though I don't
any longer practice the
Jewish religion or its
ceremonites." I sensed
from what he was saying
that he not only feels
Jewish, but maintains a
strong feeling of solidar-
ity with the Jewish
"How do you feel about
your Jewish identity?" I
asked. "Some people who
are born Jews and become
successful are anxious to
hide their Jewish origins.
But you are different. -
No, - he said, - I don't
want to hide, anything. I
continue to be a Jew in my
own fashion. -


"Then," I. said, "you will
be in a unique position to
further Catholic-Jewish re-
lationships in a very special
"That is a problem," he
reflected, "for here in
Europe these things
move slowly. The initia-
tive must come from your
country, from America."
"Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum
of the American Jewish
Committee is a leader in
this effort," I remarked.
"Yes, I know of him. Are
you interested in this
movement too?"
"I certainly am and have
been all through my rabbi-
nate in Detroit. My work at
the University of Detroit is
in this direction, and I have
also long worked with Marc
Tanenbaum and with his
assistant, Jim Rudin. In
fact, I went on a mission to
the Arab countries and to
Israel with Jim Rudin and a
group of Christian and
Jewish leaders back in
"Ah, yes," he said, "but
that was- before the revolu-
tion in Lebanon."
"You mentioned the
anti-Semitism in France.
What's the situation now?
What about the Jews of
Paris and the bombing of
the synagogue on the Rue
Copernic, the Liberal
Synagogue?" I asked.
"That is a complicated
matter. Before World War
II, Jews in Paris were very
assimilated, often more
French than Jewish, and
prominent in all walks of
life. After Hitler and Vichy,
many Jews realized their
Jewish identify.
"Then came the Algerian
crisis and De Gaulle's solu-
tion. Many Jews in Algeria,
Morocco and Tunisia came
to France, some to Marseil-
les, more to Paris... They
were not Ashkenazim but
Sephardim — more articu-
late, more aggressive. To-
day, Parisian Jewry is
mostly North African and
Sephardic. Jews who did not
flee to Israel came to
We talked a little more
about his own background
and experiences. He spoke
openly about his parents
who were immigrants from
Poland, members of the
Bund — the left-wing
Jewish labor movement.
Bundists did not emphasize
Jewish religious instruc-
tion. They did not encour-
age Bar Mitzva.
At the outbreak of the
war, he had been
evacuated to Orleans and
stayed with non-Jewish
friends who hid him dur-
ing the war. His mother
was deported to Au-
schwitz in 1943, where
she was killed, although
he did not hear of her
death until the war was
His only surviving rela-
tives are a cousin in Ger-
many, who apparently is
prominent in the Frankfurt
Jewish community, and his
father. In 1940 Aaron , I,us-
tiger converted to Catholi-
Then we talked a little
about his work and his as-

signment of caring for 2,000
priests in Paris and 120
"Would you be coming to
America?" I asked.
"Not this year, maybe
next year. I have been there
before —" "but not as the
Archbishop of Paris," I in-
By now, we had talked
nearly an hour and he
had told me he was leav-
ing that day for a month-
long retreat and travel.
"Do you have a car?" he
"No, I walked from my' ')
hotel, but I can call a taxi."
"No, he said, "wait a mo-
ment, I will drive you my-
When he left me off at my
hotel on the Left Bank he
told me he wanted to move
out of the residence and be
closer to Notre Dame. It
seems that someone gave
the residence to the Ar-
chdiocese of Paris, on condi-
tion that the archbishop live
there, but though his pre-
decessor lived there in
grand style, he wanted sim-
pler quarters.
As I left him, he said to
me, "You have a new friend
in Paris. We must keep in
Is it possible that there
may someday be a Jewish

Israel' May Ban
West Bank Term

Israel radio and TV will be
banned from referring to
the "West Bank" if a Sup-
reme Court application
from the Judea and
Samaria Settlers Associa-
tion is upheld.
The association, through
its lawyer, Elyakim
Haetzni of Kiryat Arba, has
submitted arguments to the
court that term "West
Bank" is essentially a Jor-
danian concept, implying
Jordanian rule over both
banks of the Jordan River.
The applicants want Is-
rael Radio and TV to be or-
dered to refer to the area as
"Judea and Samaria" (as
Premier Menahem Begin
and his aides invariably do.)
Present usage on radio
and TV refers to the
"West Bank" or "Judea
and Samaria" inter-
changeably — as do most
Israelis, including most
civil servants and army
The Supreme Court will
consider the application
after the summer recess.

Solves Problem

Tarboosh - shortage in
Holon and Nablus has been
relieved — by normaliza-
tion with Egypt. The Tar-
boosh, a head-covering
worn by Samaritan men for
worship, became increas-
ingly scarce in recent years
as their craftsmen died off
first in East Jerusalem and
later in Amman. A delega-
tion of four Samaritans re-
turned from Cairo last week
with dozens of high-quality


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