Address to Pope From Chief Rabbi of Israel

«There Is No Reason Why the Sons of Abraham Should Not Be Able to Live in Peace»

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2011 ( Here is the text of the address given by the chief rabbi of Israel, Yonah Metzger, at a meeting last Thursday with Benedict XVI and members of the Israel Council of Religious Communities.

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Your Holiness,

We appreciate very much this unique historical opportunity in which we, the leaders of the religious communities in Israel, a country that is holy to us all, are gathered together in order to meet you.

The Holy Land encompasses many religions, and I believe that there is no other language capable of solving the problems of the Middle East besides the language of religion, as spoken by its leaders; after all, most attachments to this land derive from religious sentiments.

We thank to the Almighty, that the Land of Israel can serve as an example to the entire world for the manner in which so many and such varied religions live and act alongside one another. We do this under absolute freedom of religion and observance, and in a spirit of mutual respect and regard.

Your Holiness,

During your impressive and exciting visit to the Holy Land, I was reminded of one of the most famous prophesies – that of Ezekiel chapter thirty seven, the Prophesy of the Dry Bones. There, the Almighty promises him that, «Here I will open your graves and I will bring you from your graves with me to the Land of Israel …Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD who has spoken and has done it.»

We believe that this speech is addressed to us. I am the son to a family that was mostly annihilated during the Shoa in Poland and Germany. Remnants of those Jews returned like dried bones to our country after the war. We believe that it is only thanks to the spirit of the Divine that they managed to return and participate in rebuilding the land, thus fulfilling the prophet’s words.

Today, too, we meet on an historical date. Tonight, the tenth of November seventy three years ago, our synagogues were destroyed in Kristallnacht – the night of the glass shards. That terrible event, during which Nazi hands destroyed hundreds of synagogues, torah scrolls and other holy books, marks the beginning of the Shoa – the worst tragedy in our history. It would only end after six million people were exterminated – among them women and children whose only crime was being Jewish.  

Unfortunately, the Satan of hate does not rest. Shoa deniers raise their heads in public even today, when we still have amongst us those remnants who still bear in public their tattooed number on their arm – a living proof to the atrocity. Still, the deniers are undeterred, and a president of a country east of the Euphrat continues to promise that he will annihilate us and our state.

Unfortunately, the world hears and reacts with irrelevant and meaningless chatter.  Such was the world’s reaction while the Nazis were rising to power. This thundering silence encouraged only the malicious perpetrators to implement their plans.

We, the religious leaders of the Holy Land, have come to prove, once and for all, that we can live in peace; we do so in mutual respect and appreciation, in freedom to serve our Lord, in the words of the prophet: each following his belief.

We, the Council of Religious Leaders in the Holy Land, in the State of Israel, wish to convey through you to other religious leaders in other countries: please, spread this message of respect and reciprocity to your countries. There is no reason why the sons of Abraham should not be able to live in peace with each other. Why should we cause sadness to our Lord in Heaven.

We hope that our country will be the one from which the message of peace and the prophesies of the bible will come to pass.

Your Holiness,

We appreciate your kind hospitality and your blessed activity for world peace. We will all continue to pray together so that the words of Isaiah will come to pass: «They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore…» and in the words of the Psalms: «The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.»


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