The Pope Goes to Yad Vashem, and Peeks at the Road Not Taken

IDF radio is broadcasting the Pope’s visit to Yad Vashem now, and I am listening. His visit to Israel itself is somewhat controversial in some circles – many believe that it will be damaging to Israel’s interest.

Personally I have mixed feelings about it – but I do know that the only real positive thing about it is his visit to Yad Vashem.  The “king of the goyim” as I think of him, was himself part of the Nazi youth as a teenager. Many have “defended” his participation by saying that there was not much he could do at that age to fight it. I am not sure about that, but I do think that it is a stain that should have kept him from rising to the position he has.

Apparently someone else thinks so too. As part of his visit, he is to meet Holocaust survivors, and one other very special person. He will meet a “Chasid Umat HaOlam” – a Righteous Gentile. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, this is the way we Israelis describe non-Jews who have saved Jews from the Nazis. The Pope, who was a teen in the Nazi youth, will meet a non-Jew who saved Jews from the Nazis when he was 17.

I do not know who came up with the idea to introduce him to this man, but it is brilliant. Meeting the survivors is moving, but it doesn’t have the same impact, because in the end the Jews are  the “others”. A Chasid Umot HaOlam is someone he can better relate to.

All of the blah, blah, blah comes down to the crystal clear reality of looking into someone’s eyes, who did what a truly righteous person should have done in those times.

(oh, boy – another dig. They are ending the ceremony by the singing of “Ani Maamin” – “I Believe” (the whole text for the song that we as Jews sing at the end of ceremonies is: “I believe, with complete faith, in the coming of the Messiah, and even if he tarries, I will wait for him”. In other words, he’s not here yet, WE’RE STILL WAITING!


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