On April 13,1986, the then Pope John Paul II first visited the Synagogue of Rome where he embrace the Chief Rabbi of the city, Elio Toaff.
Although the distance that separates the Jewish temple from the Vatican is only 2 miles, the emotional distance that occurred on that particular Sunday was much greater. It was the first time a pope had entered a synagogue since the time of Saint Peter.
30 years later, an exhibition at the Jewish Museum of Rome is taking place in the same synagogue of that meeting. Today, the most prolific images of that moment captures an emotional gesture in a single photograph.
"Surely, the new generations do not know about this meeting, they do not know that because of him, he made it possible for two other popes, so naturally, it is important that everyone realize that the dialogue started here.”
The exhibition has been organized by the granddaughter of Rabbi Toaff, also coinciding with the first anniversary of the death of her grandfather. Some of the exhibits are from her own family archive.
In the exhibition, you can find photos, newspaper clippings, this charcoal reproduction of the famous embrace, the note that John Paul II dedicated to the rabbi and the candelabrum with nine arms with which the Jewish leader gave to the Pope.
President, Jewish Community of Rome
"That hug marked the moment of a great change of an era of such important relationships. They walked a path that was no longer fueled by hatred and discrimination, but was based on common values that were made.”
The two religions men that share the same God and decided to forget their differences. Since then, the following Popes Benedict and Francis have returned to visit the Jewish temple. Thanks to these great gestures from both religious leaders, this moment can be remembered in the Jewish Museum until July 14, 2016.