Jewish delegation from UK thanks Pope Francis for denouncing antisemitism

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20/02/2022
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Marie van der Zyl is president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, representing the entire British Jewish community. She is the second woman to hold the position and was elected by more than 300 representatives of 180 synagogues and 40 other Jewish organizations throughout the country  

Van der Zyl traveled to Rome with the institution's chief executive, Michael Wegier, to greet the Pope.

MARIE VAN DER ZYL
President, Board of Deputies of British Jews
'We were very very privileged for His Holiness to offer to see us and we gave him a beautiful antique book of one of our oldest synagogues. And we wanted to thank him of the warmth of the relationship between the Jewish and Christian communities.'

MICHAEL WEGIER
Chief Executive, Board of Deputies of British Jews
'And it´s so wonderful that after so many centuries of difficult times, we now are in a situation where we have a pope who is so warm towards the Jewish people and Israel and our community. And we wanted to express how supported and our gratitude for that.'

Together they were able to exchange some warm words with Pope Francis.

-'My wife is in Santiago, Chile, and she also says thank you.'

They say they are concerned about the recent rise in antisemitism in the United Kingdom. After the latest instances of tension between Israel and Palestine in 2021, incidents of anti-Jewish hate in the country skyrocketed by 500%, according to the non-profit Community Security Trust. 

That's why they thanked the Pope for the messages like this one, which he shared on one of his most recent trips.

POPE FRANCIS
'I repeat: let us unite in condemning all violence and every form of antisemitism, and in working to ensure that God’s image, present in the humanity He created, will never be profaned.'

MICHAEL WEGIER
Chief Executive, Board of Deputies of British Jews
'We discussed the importance of Jewish-Christian relations, he said that he will pray for us and that we should pray for him'.

-'And pray for me. I pray for you, you pray for me.'
-'And we pray for peace.'

Rome is a city especially sensitive to antisemitism. In October 1943, the Nazis brutally took Jews from their homes to send them to concentration camps. Many were able to save themselves by hiding in the houses of friends or in churches, but others weren't as fortunate, and were taken away.

To remember them, gold pavement stones are placed in front of the houses where they lived, to honor the lives of those Jews who never came home. 

SO/JRB

TR: JM

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