Meeting with Archbishop
This past week, I, along with JCRC Chair Bob Sachs, Jewish Community of Louisville President and CEO Stu Silberman, American Jewish Committee Regional Director Melanie Pell, and AJC’s Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations Rabbi Noam Marans met with the Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville and newly-elected president of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. This meeting went very well on a number of issues, and further cemented the already strong relationship our community has with our Catholic friends here in Louisville and around the country.
Locally, our relationship with the Catholic community has deep roots that are manifest in several cooperative projects today. The late Father Stanley Schmidt is still so highly regarded in our community that a Jewish Community of Louisville endowed fund, named in his honor, is used to help fund an annual trip of Catholic middle school students to the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. A group of Catholic students and Jewish students are currently working together on a film that will be part of our Holocaust Commemoration this year. Our participation in helping to plan the Hunger Walk has also been joined by the Catholic community, as the Archbishop recruits and walks himself, setting a great example for the city.
On a national and international level, the relationship between the Jewish community and the Catholic community continues to grow. The election of Pope Francis has rejuvenated relations with the Jewish community, and delegations of Jewish communal leaders have already met with him and have come away very impressed. Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, a Vatican ratified document that radically changed the direction of Catholic/Jewish dialogue and opened the door to a much more balanced and positive relationship. Nostra Aetate absolved Jews of the crime of Deicide or the killing of Jesus. According to the ADL this document “stresses the religious bond shared by Jews and Catholics, reaffirms the eternal covenant between God and the People of Israel, and dismisses church interest in trying to baptize Jews.”
Archbishop Kurtz, furthermore, coauthored a letter to President Obama thanking him for his efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, supporting a two-state solution and affirming support for ensuring that all three Abrahamic faiths have access to their holy sites.
I came away from our conversation with him (and Father Martin Linebach, Ecumenical and Interreligious Officer for the Archdiocese) with a sense that our relationship is quite good and that it will continue to grow.
Never Too Late to Right a Wrong
This past week, President Obama handed out Congressional Medals of Honor to 24 servicemen who were denied the nation’s highest honor due to discrimination and prejudice. These Latino, African American, and Jewish men risked or gave their lives to defend their country and their fellow servicemen and women; and a historic wrong has been now been righted.
Among those honored was the uncle of Jewish rock musician Lenny Kravitz, Pvt. Leonard Kravitz, who was killed in the Korean war. We thank the U.S. military for finally, after all these years, bestowing the rightful honors to those members of minority groups who loved their country enough to risk and give their lives for it.
Of the 24 who received the honor that was denied to them, only three are still alive.