50th Anniversary of the Passage of Nostra Aetate

Last week the Catholic Church celebrated the 50th anniversary of the passage of Nostra Aetate, literally “in our time” (Declarations on the relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions) promulgated by Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council on Oct 28th, 1965. (Passing by a vote of 2,221 to 88 of the assembled Bishops.)

Specifically for Jews, Nostra Aetate established for Roman Catholics that:
1. Jews, being precursors to Christianity have the right to be respected. Judaism is accepted as an appropriate religious expression for Jews.
2. The Church would no longer promote the concept of deicide – the notion that Jews should not be held responsible for killing Jesus
3. Anti-Semitism is a sin.

Last night, the Dutchess County Jewish Federation showed Sister Rose’s Passion, a 2004 American short documentary film directed by Oren Jacoby. It celebrates Sister Rose Thering, who for 67 years as a Dominican nun, passion was exposing and overcoming anti-Semitism. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short and won the Best Documentary Short Award at the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival. Film Trailer

Sister Rose Thering
The Jewish people honor Sister Rose Thering. “There is not enough time, and there are not enough superlative adjectives to adequately describe what the life and work of Sister Rose Thering have meant to the world,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “She changed the course of history. She is a woman of valor who has brought enlightenment, honor, scholarship, and pure passion to remembering and teaching about the Holocaust, to battling the demon of anti-Semitism and to challenging the ignorance and prejudice and the teaching of contempt for Jews.”

After the film, Rabbi Golomb, Vassar Temple Senior Scholar, participated in a discussion on the film and took questions from the audience. Rabbi Polish recently attended an event marking the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate at the Vatican.

As one (Bob Ritter) of several Vassar Temple members who attended the Federation’s event, I can tell you the experience was very enlightening and moving. It amazes me that Jews are still coping with deep seeded anti-Semitism that is partly rooted in positions there were only put down in 1965 by Nostra Aetate. Popularity of a film such as “The Passion of Christ” by Mel Gibson illustrate that such views are unfortunately still too prevalent today around the world.

Many thanks to the Dutchess County Jewish Federation for making this event possible!


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