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Local Jewish praise for Pope Francis
On Wednesday, Time magazine named Pope Francis its person of the year, citing the way in which his warmth and humility have cap-tured the hearts and imaginations of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world.Locally, Jews involved in the interfaith world praised the decision.Rabbi Noam Marans of Teaneck, the American Jewish Committee’s director of Interreligious and Intergroup relations, was part of a Jewish group that met with the pope soon after he was elevated, and had thought him a genuine mensch then. “It’s an inspired choice,” Rabbi Marans said. “It’s a delight to see a religious leader chosen. “Pope Francis has succeeded both in style and in substance in capturing the imagination of everyone who believes in religion as a force for good.“And his outreach to the Jewish community has been superb. We are grateful that he has extended his hand in friendship, based on decades of positive Catholic-Jewish experiences in Buenos Aires.”Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn is the American director of the Center for Jewish Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Israel. “This is a wonderful choice,” he said. “Like the choice of President Obama to receive the Nobel Peace Prize early in his presidency, it is based on hope for the future that Pope Francis has given us all. “He has shown a new face of the church, one that is open, loving and humble. I personally experienced his warm heart and personal concern when I met Francis this past June. His gestures toward Jews and Israel fill us with great hope for deeper mutual understanding and increased cooperation on religious and practical interests.”The pope is planning a trip to Israel in the spring, Rabbi Korn added.Angelica Berrie of Englewood, chair of the Center for Interreligious Understanding, has met Francis’ two predecessors, Benedict XVI and John Paul II. She, like Rabbi Marans, was enthusiastic about the choice.She said that his identity as a Jesuit equips him with many advantages. The church does not draw its popes from their ranks, it is outside the hierarchy, and its officials usually see them as “outsiders. They’re not even part of the conversation. He has that outsider’s point of view. They also have a tremendous global network, and they work on the ground, so they are really in touch with people. Francis is a man of the people.“I believe he brings back a sense of trust in the church, of integrity, spirituality, and humanism, and the feeling that God is among the people. All the people.”As a Jew, Ms. Berrie thinks that “we cannot find a better friend. That’s not just because he co-wrote a book with a rabbi.” (When he was the cardinal of Buenos Aires, the pope, then Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and his friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka collaborated on “On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century.) If you look at his statements, from long before he became a cardinal, you will see a long history of being open and working with the Jewish community in Argentina.”Rabbi Jack Bemporad of Englewood is the director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding. He is thrilled about the new pope. “I think he will revolutionize the church by building bridges to other religions, and concentrating on social justice,” he said.“That’s a real transformation. The church always has been concerned with those matters, but in terms of dogmatic theology, Pope Francis has said that we have to embody the ethics of the Hebrew prophets.“That’s revolutionary.“In just a few months, he has redirected the church in the direction of issues of conscience and social justice. His main concern is how the church can be a force for good for humanity. Putting that front and center is amazing,” Rabbi Bemporad concluded.
Candlelighting: Friday, December 13, 4:10 p.m.Shabbat ends: Saturday, December 14, 5:14 p.m.
Ad men vs. mad men
Rule one for an advertising agency: Know your audience.
Dog wins big in Israeli court
With great pets come great responsibilities.An Israeli court has ruled that a couple that abandoned their Doberman are responsible for its care and maintenance — as well as $590 worth of medical bills.“Pets have a special status in Israel’s law books and are not considered mere objects,” wrote Judge Lior Bringer of the Eilat Magistrate’s Court in a decision reported by Haaretz. “Their owners have a responsibility to protect and maintain them, and to care for their needs. They are responsible for their pets.”The ruling came in response to a suit by the group Let the Animals Live. A volunteer from the group found the dog wandering in the street, suffering from dehydration and fever, and took her to a veterinarian. The rescuer recognized the dog; she said she’d seen it at their house.The owners told the court that it was not their dog.
Under Israeli law, abandoning a pet is a criminal offense, subject to a year in prison or $20,000 fine. Let the Animals Live says it has referred dozens of cases to the police but no indictments followed. This case was tried in a civil court.
LARRY YUDELSONCOVER PHOTO BY JERRY SZUBIN
So what was the Israeli agency Twisted thinking last month when it put up a billboard in the charedi town of Bnei Brak with a picture of an attractive woman’s face?Didn’t they know it would be immediately defaced and vandalized?It turns out they did. But when vandals removed the face, the real message emerged:International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – 11/25/13