Page 114 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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PHILIP E. MILLER
A Visual Testimony:
Judaica from the Vatican Library
F
o r
n e a r l y
t w o
years, between July of 1987 and June of
1989, over four dozen Hebrew manuscripts from the Biblioteca
Apostolica Vaticana were on exhibition in the United States.
The exhibition, entitled “A Visual Testimony: Judaica from the
Vatican Library,” was organized by the Union of American He­
brew Congregations and handled by the Center for the Fine
Arts, of Miami. Although opened officially by Pope John Paul
II on September 11, 1987 during his visit to Miami, the ex­
hibition had been on view to the public since mid-July. Indeed,
during those seven weeks, more than 35,000 persons had visited
it. The exhibition’s other venues were Houston (The Fine Arts
Institute), Los Angeles (The Skirball Museum), Memphis (The
Memphis Brooks Museum), New York City (The New York
Public Library), Philadelphia (The Philadelphia Museum of
Art), and Boston (The Harvard Semitic Museum).
The exhibition was the final product of years of negotiation
and preparation which began in the spring of 1984. Rabbi Philip
Hiat, assistant for special projects to the president of the Union
of American Hebrew Congregations, was having lunch with Fa­
ther Joseph D. Fenton, director of broadcast media for the Unit­
ed States Catholic Conference. One of the subjects which came
up in the course of conversation was that of Catholic-Jewish
relations and the changes that had been made in Catholic ed­
ucation regarding Jews and Judaism since the Second Vatican
Council. While progress was being made with children, what
was being done to educate their parents, and adults in general,
to uproot popular misconceptions and anti-Jewish attitudes?
The idea came up of creating an educational tool, something
which would educate and edify the laity of the two faith com­
munities.
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