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November 6, 1987     The Message
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November 6, 1987

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Faith Today Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, November 6. 1987 Page 4 * Faith Today "1 think that today the nation of Israel, ?erhaps more than'ever before, finds itself at the center of the attention of the nations of the world, above all because of this terrible experience (the Holocaust), through which you have become a loud warn- ing voice for all humanity." (Pope John Paul II speaking to the Polish Jewish community in Warsaw, 1987) ,e,-,e-o- In a 1987 address in Warsaw, Poland, Pope John Paul II sug- gested that the Holocaust of the Jews during World War II gives Jews a "particular vocation" which others can learn from, said ON PILGRIMAGE Eugene Fisher. This moving speech reflected the pope's per- sonal experience of having friends and classmates die in concentra- tion camps, Fisher added. He is director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish relations. Despite its evil, the Holocaust is an event that many Christians "have not totally come to grips with yet," Fisher believes. Like the experience of the Israelites' exodus from Egypt, the Holocaust is not something that one experiences or hears about and then within a few short years forgets, he said. It is a great mystery that needs to be grappled with over and over again. For the pope, the Jews provide a witness and a warning because "all that threatens humanity" comes together in the Holocaust, Fisher said. Under the Nazis, the destructive power of technology and a loss of values combined to create an environment where murdering an entire people seem- ed possible. One-third of the total Jewish population was murdered systematically and two of every three Jews living in Europe in 1938 were killed. A Jewish friend once told Fisher that 70 members of his family were alive in Poland before the war. By war's end, the only sur- vivors were his parents, a brother and himself. This common experience re- mains "a massive trauma" for the Jewish people, Fisher said. Only II since the mid-1970s have many Jews been willing to speak out publicly about the Holocaust. With many death-camp survivors growing old, they worry that "if the story is not told now, it will not be understood," Fisher explained. He suggested that Christians on the parish level look for oppor- tunities to acquaint themselves with the evil of the Holocaust and the possibility of hope arising from it. Lent is an appropriate time to study the Holocaust and its meaning, he added. The study sessions could end with a joint Christian-Jewish com- memoration at the time of the Jewish "Yom Hashoah" (Day of the Holocaust) each spring, he said. .....o.o.....o........... CHILDREN'S PLACE'...'.'.'...'...'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'o'.'"." By Janaan Manternach NO News Service braham Joshua Heschel was born 80 years ago in Poland. He grew up in a small Russian town called Mezbizh. The Heschel family were devout Jews. Abraham was named after his grandfather, the last great rabbi of Mezbizh. Young Abraham grew up in a world filled with Jewish traditions and practices." He loved the Jewish feasts, the prayers at home and in the synagogue. He was enchanted by the stories his parents told him about the great Jewish men and women of Mezbizh. Many a tree, stone or street reminded him of some wonderful person or event. Abraham loved to study the Torah, the Hebrew Bible, and the Talmud, the book of Jewish tradi- tions. Even before he was a teen- ager he wanted to become like two great Polish rabbis, Baal Shem Tov and Menahem Mendl. The holy Rabbi Baal Shem Tov, who died in Mezbizh in 1760, founded the Hasidic movement to which the Heschels belonged. He America's best known rabbi believed the world was good and beautiful, filled with God's presence. The rabbi taught that God could be known in the or, dinary tasks of daily life. What counted most for Baal Shem Toy was love, compassion and openness. Abraham also wanted to be like the famous Rabbi Menahem Mendl of Kotzk, called the Kotzker, who died in 1859. He looked more at the pain, corruption and lies that fill the world and focused on the Mystery of evil. He was full of questions. For him what counted most was truth, honesty, justice and freedom to search for them. Abraham became a passionate seeker after truth like the Kotzker. He also became a good man, open, caring and compassionate like Rab- bi Baal Shem Toy. As a young man during World ar II Abraham narrowly escaped ath at the hands of the Nazis. He fled to London in 1939 and then to the United States. -In time, Abraham Heschel became the best known rabbi in America. As a professor, he educated hundreds of Jewish rab- bis. The answers to questions "are questions in disguise," he once wrote, and "every new answer gives rise to new questions." Abraham Heschel lived according to his beliefs. His life and words reveal that he was remarkably open to goodness and truth wherever they are found. He was a leader in discussions between Christians and Jews and was invited to the Vatican. He wrote books that helped millions of Jews and others to find God in their lives. Rabbi Heschel also marched for equal rights with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965 in Selma, Ala., and led protests against the Viet- nam War. The rabbi died Dec. 23, 1972. (Ms. Manternach is the author of catechetical works, scripture stories and original stories for children.) Word Scramble Unscramble the words below. All the words are in this week's children's story. Example: ORTHA I,. HEELSCH 2. ZIMEZBH 3. NOGUGEASY 4. MALTDU 5. BIBAR .tqqa "g 'pnm, L ', 'erous " 'q..qzoiA I "g '10qseH "I :sosuv What do you think? [] Sometimes people focus mainly on the ways that Jews and Catholics are different from each other. But can you find two ways In which Jews and Catholics are similar -- In which they share the same belief? From the bookshelf Even Higher, a Jewish story retold by Barbara Cohen, Is a delightful tale about a born doubter, a man named Litvak. He was the only person in the little town of Nemerov who did not believe that each year just before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, their holy rabbi was lifted up to heaven to talk with God. So In secret Lltvak followed the rebbl and discovered something about him thatwas a great surprise. This experience also taught Lltvak something Important about ordinary people. (Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, 105 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.1987. Hard- back, $13.)