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December 11, 1987 - Image 118

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-12-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I

PEOPLE I

Congregation B'nai Moshe

invites you to:

1. TORAH FOR TOTS Chanukah Celebration. Sunday, December 13

from 10:00 to 11:00 A.M. An upbeat fun-filled nursery program for
pre-school age children, led by Robin Sack Meyerowitz with a special
twist for Chanukah!

2. SHABBAS CHANUKAH FAMILY SERVICE. Saturday,

December 19, at 4:00 P.M. A family-participating service of prayer,
singing, dancing, games, a nosh and Rabbi Meyerowitz's surprises.
Join us for this warm, lively atmosphere for our children to grow
as Jews.

3. LUNCH WITH THE RABBI. Saturday, December 12, after T'filot.

Topic for discussion: AIDS in the Jewish Community - Denial or
Self-Help?

JOIN US FOR THE FUN
AND THE CHALLENGE!

For more details, call 548-9000.

An Assimilated Jew
Who Made Popes Listen

LOTHAR KAHN

Special to The Jewish News

hatever improve-
ments have oc-
curred in Jewish-
Catholic relations since 1950
— the Vatican Councils and
the recent meetings in Rome
and Miami — may be at-
tributed in large measure to
one man: the late French-
Jewish educator, Jules Isaac.
In 1947, Isaac published his
epoch-making "historical
essay" on Jesus and the Jews.
His conclusions, which cor-
rected the official Catholic
version, netted him an invita-
tion from Pius XII, the pope
accused of silence while the
Jews of Europe died. As a
result of their meeting, Pius
ordered a harmful phrase
deleted from the liturgy.
Not long after, Isaac
published his much longer
"historical essay" La Genese

de l'Antisemitisme (1956).

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106

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 1987



..

166'00 303222

Isaac pulled no punches in
putting the heaviest burden
for all forms of anti-Semitism
on the religious brand
fostered by the Church. The
essay was read by Pope John
XXIII who also invited Isaac
for an audience. This pope —
who had personally witness-
ed the plight of Jews and had
assisted in their rescue
through Turkey, where he
was nuncio — ordered more
significant changes in Chris-
tian prayers, especially those
pertaining to Easter and the
crucifixion. John XXIII,
through his leading cardinals,
also invited Isaac to draw up
a list of suggestions which
would improve Jewish-
Catholic relations. The memo
submitted by Isaac served the
fathers of the Second Vatican
Council as a basis for the for-
mal declaration on the Jews;
a declaration which finally
absolved Jews of the crime of
deicide an deleted phrases
such as "perfidious Jews"
from the Easter liturgy.
What is especially notewor-
thy about this unsung hero of
a safer Jewish life in Catholic
countries is his total assimila-
tion in the first 60 years of his
life. The head of the French
educational establishment —
the ministers changed fre-
quently, the official staff did
not — Isaac had looked upon
his Jewish origin as of no
importance.
Then: Hitler, the invasion of
France, the arrest of his fami-
ly, their destruction in the
death camps. Through the in-
tervention of friends, Isaac
could save his life by remain-

ing in hiding, while hoping
his family would return. They
did not. Alone in his room in
1943, Isaac embarked on a se-
cond career, one for which by
virtue of background and age
he seemed ill-suited. First, he
knew nothing about ancient
life in Judea and was not a
specialist in antiquity
generally. Second, under nor-
mal conditions it is im-
probable that anyone in his
sixties would take up a new
field of study. As Isaac
remarked, how could he be
assured that there would be

Christian
theologians
poisoned the
minds of
Christians against
the stubborn
people that
refused to see the
light.

enough years left to him to
finish the task. Upon verifica-
tion of his family's death, he
devoted himself
singlemindedly to the discus-
sion of Jewish-Christian rela-
tions. How could these rela-
tions have led to the rise of La
Bete, the Beast, i.e. Nazi
primitivism and bestiality?
Isaac's indictment of the
Church's guilt in the develop-
ment of Jew-hate is based in
part on the distinction bet-
ween pagan anti-Semitism
and the Christian variety.
The former was unorganized
and sporadic, essentially
harmless in that it looked
upon Jews as the "odd people"
who believed in strange
customs and a God nobody
had ever seen. Christian Jew-
hate, by contrast, was
deliberately fostered by early
Church leaders who resented
Jews competing with them for
the souls of pagans. They
were equally incensed by the
Jews' stubborn refusal to
recognize in Jesus the
Messiah. After Christianity
became the official religion of
the Roman Empire, the con-
scious anti-Semitism broad-
ened. The charge of deicide
was added and Christian
theologians poisoned the
minds of Christians against
the stubborn people that
refused to see the light. As
the power of the Church in-
creased over that of the kings,
anti-Semitism as a force
became ever more vigorous.
Isaac was convinced that all
other forms of anti-Semitism

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