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May 19, 2005 - Image 104

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-05-19

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

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ister Rose explains it all to you.
And what she has to explain is
seemingly the inexplicable:
How an 84-year-old nun has battled
for decades to debrief the world on the
long, heinous history of anti-
Semitism.
As Tevye would say, "It isn't easy."
But when you're an American mem-
ber of the Dominican order of nuns
who sees the world is askew and wants
to point out the absurdity of bias, who
said it would be?
What says a lot is Sister Rose's
Passion, the Oscar-nominated docu-
mentary about Sister Rose Thering,
which will have its TV debut 7 p.m.
Tuesday, May 24, on Cinemax.
Earning its Oscar nod this year in
the Documentary Short category,
Sister Rose's Passion is anything but
short on the passion she has felt for
more than 50 years in trying to get
Jews their due.
One questions why.
Were her best friends Jewish while
she was growing up on a Wisconsin
farm? Did she ever wonder how such a
small group could produce so many
motion pictures in Hollywood? Was
she ever mistaken as Jewish herself
because of her first name? Was she a
fan of Jewish culture?
None of the above: "It all comes
from the holy spirit of God," she says
of the inspiration which led to her
playing an integral part in integrating
a Jewish sensibility into Vatican II
with its "Nostra Aetate: The
Declaration on the Relationship of the
Church to non-Christian Religions,"
which it passed 40 years ago.
"What it says is that we, as
Christians, can not and will not blame
Jews for Jesus' death. Never again.
Jews were not responsible; it was the
Romans," says Sister Rose, "and no
way should [Jews] be looked at that
way ever again." (Sister Rose, it should
be noted, is not a fan of Mel Gibson's
The Passion of the Christ, which many
felt stirred up old feelings about Jews
as "Christ-killers.")
"Even though we teach this," she
says of her anti-anti-Semitic stance,

Sister Rose: "Let God do his work."

"Christ-killers" is an expression that is
"still brought up. Most still believe" in
the myth that Jews are responsible for
the killing of Jesus.

Improving Interfaith Relations

"We go right back to our old prejudices
when pressed," says Sister Rose, who was
introduced to Judaism — or Jews — as
a child.
"My father was driving. I was young
at the time, sitting in the car and he
whispered to me, 'We have a new phar-
macist in town, and I think he's
Jewish."'
That whisper became a buzz saw, as "I
wondered why my father had whispered
it to me."
When she brought it up to her moth-
er, Rose found the response echoing in
her ears. "Jews?" Her mother responded.
"They were the ones who killed Jesus."
Sister Rose made it her obligation to
become more familiar with historical
fact. "Some cultures respond more hate-
fully," says Sister Rose of those she has
encountered over the years, "and hang
on to this bias. We have many groups
from Poland and Germany that come to
this country," and their prejudices

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