With the Christmas holiday approaching and religious intolerance on the rise, it’s a particularly good time to check out The Jewish Museum of Maryland’s exhibit about the life of Pope John Paul II. Until walking through A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II & the Jewish People, I wasn’t aware of the events that shaped his worldview, connected him to the Jews, and helped make him such a global ambassador.
Growing up in Wadowice, Poland, the future pope had lots of Jewish friends. When the Nazis invaded, his Jewish friends and neighbors were sent to death camps, and he was forced—like all men between the ages of 14 and 60—to work in factories and quarries.
So it’s no wonder that after becoming pope, this man forged a strong bond with the Jews and was especially sensitive to the plight of oppressed people around the world.
I’m not Catholic or Jewish, but I found this show to be fascinating and powerful. When you go, check out the last part of the exhibit, which gathers photos of John Paul meeting with representatives of just about every world religion you could name. Those photos say more about the man and his legacy than anything else.
The exhibit closes December 26th.
[photo: courtesy of Jewish Museum of Maryland]