Saturday, 19 September 2009

Pope Sends Message to Jews on Their New Year
Notes Upcoming Visit to Synagogue

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 18, 2009 ( Benedict XVI sent a message of congratulations and friendship to the Jewish people on the occasion of the celebration of Rosh Hashanah 5770, Yom Kippur and the upcoming festival of Sukkot.

In a telegram to the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, the Pope said, "I invoke from the Eternal for all Jews copious blessings for constant encouragement in their commitment to promote justice, concord and peace."

On transmitting to the Jewish community "his heartfelt congratulations," the Pontiff expressed the hope that "these celebrations will be the occasion of holy and common joy."

The Holy Father affirmed his "cordial friendship" with the rabbi, and noted his anticipation "to make with joy, after your feasts, a visit to your community and to the synagogue, animated by the profound desire to manifest my personal closeness and that of the whole Catholic Church."

Di Segni thanked the Pope publicly for his message. Vatican Radio reported that the Holy Father will visit Rome's synagogue in the Fall, though the date is yet to be decided.

It will be the third Jewish place of worship that he will have visited in this pontificate, after the synagogues of Cologne, Germany, in Aug. 2005, and of Park East in New York, in April 2008.

The visit to Rome's synagogue will take place 23 years after John Paul II's historic visit there on April 13, 1986, the first time that a Pope entered a Jewish place of worship since St. Peter.

In addition to marking the beginning of the new Jewish year, Rosh Hashanah is also the first of the ten days of repentance that end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

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