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Pope John Paul II exhibit arrives in Cincinnati

On September 13, 2012

The "A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II & The Jewish People" exhibit reopened on Monday in Cincinnati at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute for Religion.
More than 800,000 people from across the nation have seen this 2,200 square-foot exhibit since it first opened October 2004.
Pope John Paul II blessed the exhibition, celebrating his connection and relationship with Jewish people. On May 18, 2005 (the pope's 85th birthday) the exhibit opened on Xavier's campus.
Rabbi Abie Ingber, Dr. William Madges, a theology professor, and Dr. James Buchanan, the director of Xavier's Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, were the official founders of the exhibit. Ingber wanted to see the exhibit influence people and open them up to living like the pope when it comes to embracing people of other faiths.
"It is an exhibit, but actually it is an opportunity and an instrument for fostering interfaith engagement," Buchanan said, "he sees the exhibit as an opportunity for people of all ages, especially students, to learn about the importance of forming interfaith relationships."
The exhibit encourages interfaith engagement and has a positive impact on local Christian and Jewish communities.
It shares Pope John Paul II's experience of childhood through the twentieth century in Wadowice, Poland, his perspective during World War II and the Holocaust, his young priesthood experience in Krakow and his papacy.
He is the first pope to ever enter a synagogue, the first to officially visit and acknowledge the State of Israel and the first to officially engage in an act of repentance for the Catholic Church's past adverse treatment of Jews.
There is a focus on the pope's relationship with his Jewish childhood friend Jerzy Kugler, despite the past tension between their religious communities.
At the end of the exhibit, there is a Western Wall replica where visitors can insert their personal prayers. These numerous prayers are unread, hand delivered and placed in the real Western Wall in Jerusalem.
The name of the exhibit was influenced by the pope's letter from 1986 memorializing the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The pope wrote, "As Christians and Jews, following the example of the faith of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing to the world. This is the common task awaiting us. It is therefore necessary for us, Christians and Jews, to be first a blessing to one another".
Cincinnati is the exhibit's last venue before its European tour next year through Poland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy and maybe Israel.
Thanks to the collaborative effort of Xavier University, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, The Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the Skirtball Museum the exhibit has returned to Cincinnati.
The exhibit is located at the Skirball Museum, 3101 Clifton Ave., until December 31. The admission is free, but donations are appreciated. For more information, call (513) 487-3200 or visit

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