April 7, 2011
For over 30 years Rabbi Jack Bemporad has directed the Center for
Interreligious Understanding in New Jersey. Its objective is to promote
an honest dialogue and mutual respect between religions, especially with
For him, these relations have been greatly improved thanks to the efforts of John Paul II who has been called more than once as the “pope of the Jews.”Rabbi Jack Bemporad
Center for Interreligious Understanding (USA)“I had the good fortune to have an audience with John XXIII in 1960 before Vatican II. I felt that he was a truly saintly individual who had made up his mind that he was going to do something to rectify the past relationships between Jews and Catholics and I think he did do that. The fortunate thing is that he wasn't alone here. That he was followed by others like Paul VI but primarily John Paul II who moved much much faster and much more effectively I think in bringing this about .”
The rabbi frequently spoke with John Paul II. Among their many visits, Bemporad was part of the historic meeting of the Polish pope with 130 Jewish leaders in January of 2005. Along with three other rabbis, he gave a special blessing to John Paul II recognizing the Vatican's historic steps to improve relations between Catholics and Jews.
According to Rabbi Bemporad, Benedict XVI has followed in the footsteps of his predecessor on relations with Jews. Rabbi Jack Bemporad
Center for Interreligious Understanding (USA)“In the first three years that he was the pope he went to three synagogues. He's basically tried in his way to show everyone that he feels that the Jewish people are very important. He sees this as a fundamental part”.
This rabbi's efforts to improve understanding between different religions is not only focused on the Catholic Church.
He recently organized a trip with a group of Muslim Imams from the US to the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau. There, they jointly condemned anti-semitism and Holocaust denial. Rabbi Jack Bemporad
Center for Interreligious Understanding (USA)“We went there with these people and we got a fabulous statement where they categorically condemned both Holocaust denial and anti-semitism. And the fundamental thing that came out of it was that no good Muslim, no authentic Muslim, can be a holocaust denier. When the Jewish community saw that, they were astonished and they were very grateful, and thankful, and very happy.”
The rabbi has repeatedly praised the Catholic Church through their steps to reach out to the Jewish people in recent years, towards a dialogue to which he has dedicated his life.