JEWISH CHILDHOOD FRIENDS TO MEET POPE IN HOLY LAND


JERUSALEM (CWNews.com) - A group of Israeli Jews originally from Pope John Paul II's Polish hometown of Wadowice will meet with the Holy Father during his visit to the Holy Land next week.

Yosef Bienenstock, 80, on Sunday remembered attending school with the young Karol Wojtyla. "We sat on the same bench and I have to thank him today because I was mischievous and when I didn't want to do my homework I would copy from the Pope, Karolik," he said. He will be among 20 Jews from Wadowice who will meeting the Holy Father at Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial.

"He was a genius in every sense of the word," Bienenstock told Reuters news agency. "In school, the teachers didn't know what to do with him. When the teacher opened his mouth, he completed the sentence."

Bienenstock remembered living down the street from Karol and said he plans to reminisce about their childhood. "I will kiss him, I will speak to him in Polish," Bienenstock said. "Trust me, we have a common language. From what I understand he has a good memory." He also called the Pope a friend of the Jews. "I have to say he came from a house where they didn't know what anti-Semitism was," he recalled