EXPOSITION IN ROMAN UNIVERSITY ON HOLY LAND
Explaining Jewish Traditions and Beliefs
ROME, 15 (ZENIT.org).- On the eve of John Paul II's trip to the Holy Land, the Pontifical
Gregorian University of Rome inaugurated an exposition that offers some of the most important
symbols of the Jewish religion. Entitled "From the Temple of Jerusalem to the Synagogue: The
Feasts of Pilgrimage and the Western Wall," the initiative was organized by the St. Andrew of the
Quirinale Association of Roman citizens, established for the Jubilee, along with the Gregorian
University, the Jewish Community of Rome, and the Israeli Embassies to the Vatican and Italy.
This is the first stage of a series of expositions and other cultural initiatives dedicated to
Christianity and Islam, in addition to Judaism. The purpose is to foster mutual understanding among
believers in the one God.
More than an exposition, this is a communications event that facilitates exposure to a different
reality. According to Fr. Giovanni Notari, president of the St. Andrew Association, this "meeting"
is important, "as Jews and Christians contemplate together a long passage of the history of
salvation." Because of this, it is expected that the exposition "will help us to intensify an
increasingly significant relation."
Fr. Notari recalled what John Paul II said during an audience in April of last year: "the dialogue
between Christians and Jews must look to the future. The memory of sad and tragic events from
the past can open the road to a new sense of fraternity and commitment, so that the infected seeds
of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism will never take root in the heart of man."
"This is the purpose of the endeavor we are carrying out: to establish a real dialogue. Dialogue is
an exchange between two, it is 'dia-logos,' the space of novelty that opens up when each one
forgets himself to become a gift and meeting; a dialogue made in truth, justice and love, terms that
have served as methodology in the conception of this exposition." Fr. Notari clarified, "We are not
the ones who speak about our interlocutor; it is the Hebrew community that speaks about itself."
Judaism is defined as a religion of the temple; the community's life is organized around dates,
celebrations and fasts, which help the believer to live fundamental principles on which existence is
based. As a result, the exposition speaks about Hebrews through the representation of three
important feasts: "Sukkoth," the feast of bells; "Pesach," Passover; "Shavuoth," feast of first fruits.
All are linked by the common element of pilgrimage to the Temple.
A second room of the exposition is dedicated to 25 pictures of the Western Wall of Jerusalem,
known as the Wailing Wall, by photographer Michal Ronnen Safdie.
Antonella Catani, who designed the exposition, has captured the most important moments in the
life of the believing Jew with objects loaned by the Hebrew Museum in Rome. With these, the
visitor can submerge himself in Jewish atmosphere and contemplate, for example, the
ancient silver objects, or the "talled," worn by the Rabbi. It should be noted that the Jewish
community in Rome is the oldest of the Diaspora; consequently, it has objects that are of
incalculable historical value.