Chief Rabbi of Rome and leader of the Italian Jews, Elio Toaff, passed away this Sunday. Rabbi Toaff, after surviving World War II, focused on rebuilding Jewish schools and strengthening Jewish education in Rome. He was especially famous for inviting Pope John Paul II to pray with him in Rome’s central synagogue. Pope John Paul II was the first Pope to ever visit a synagogue. This visit was a landmark moment in bridging the divide between Catholics and Jews since the ‘Nostra Aetate.’
The ‘Nostra Aetate’ was a historically significant document produced in 1962-65 by the Vatican Council. This document rejected the belief that some Roman Catholics had that the Jews were collectively responsible for the death of Christ.