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Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage opens Pope John Paul II exhibition

The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage presents A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People, an interactive experience, on view May 18 through August 5, 2012, that allows visitors to follow in John Paul II’s footsteps from his childhood to his role as head of the world’s largest church. The Museum hopes the exhibition will inspire visitors to live out the pope’s request for interfaith understanding.

Pope John Paul II travelled extensively and met with believers from many divergent faiths. During his pontificate, he greatly improved Catholic and Jewish relations. In 1979, he became the first pope to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, where many of his countrymen had perished during World War II. When he visited the Great Synagogue of Rome in 1986, he became the first pope to have made an official papal visit to a synagogue. His most historic moment came in 2000 when, after visiting the national Holocaust memorial in Israel, he touched the Western Wall in Jerusalem, placing a letter inside it in which he prayed for forgiveness for the actions against Jews. (Prayer available on request)

The 1,500 square-foot exhibition takes its name from the pope’s commemoration in 1993 of the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The exhibition will feature photos, personal artifacts and videos documenting the pope’s history with the Jewish people.

Visitors will have the opportunity to walk through rooms representing various stages of the pope’s life, including one from his childhood. There will also be an interactive area where visitors can write prayers that will be taken to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The exhibition’s photographs and artifacts are on loan from museums in the United States, Poland, Italy, and Israel. Some of the works include:

Reproductions of the Pope’s baptismal certificate and high school and college transcripts, on loan from the City of Wadowice Museum.

An official license plate, bearing the swastika symbol, from one of five Nazi-owned vehicles used in Wadowice, on loan from the City of Wadowice Museum.

Shoes worn by Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz and a can used for Zyklon-B, the chemical used by Nazis to kill Jews in gas chambers. These items have been loaned by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland.

The biretta (red skull cap) the future pope received when named a Cardinal in 1967 and vestments he wore at an inter-religious prayer service in Assisi, loaned by the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC.

Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage
2929 Richmond Rd. Beachwood, OH 44122

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