Greeks Fete Two Jews

Greeks Fete Two Jews

One of the nation’s top Greek Orthodox events will feature two Jewish speakers. Author Elie Wiesel will be presented with the Athenagoras Humanitarian Award on Saturday night at the Annual Grand Banquet of the Order of St. Andrew.

Wiesel joins former President Jimmy Carter and the late Mother Theresa as past winners of the humanitarian prize.

Wiesel will receive the award from Archbishop Spyridon, the spiritual head of the 1.5 million Greek Orthodox in the United States. Also speaking at the gala will be Yolanda Avram Willis, a Greek Jew saved by Greek Christians during World War II. "We are very proud of our Jewish Greek brethren," said Bob Nicolaides, a spokesman for the order: a national fraternal group that financially supports the church. The order’s national commander, Pennsylvania Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis will speak.

The award honors persons or organizations "who are vanguards in the struggle for religious freedom and humanitarian causes.

"The group cited Wiesel for his support of Soviet Jewry, Nicaragua’s Misquito Indians, Argentina’s "disappearing political prisoners," Cambodian refugees as well as religious and war victims in the former Yugoslavia. Archbishop Spyridon said "the honor in this case is ours. We are eager to receive Wiesel and his message of justice, freedom and truth."

The award is named after the late Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras: who was the supreme religious leader in Greek Orthodoxy.

The American Jewish Committee and Saint Leo College, a Catholic College in Florida, last week began a national Catholic/Jewish interfaith project to promote greater understanding between the two faiths.The center will sponsor conferences and publications. It will bring together academics and religious leaders from around the country to discuss issues of concern.

Last week the center sponsored a conference called "Teaching the Holocaust: Catholic and Jewish Perspectives" and included such topics as "The roots of Christian Anti-Semitism" and "Confronting the Teaching of Contempt."

"This conference was a step in the right direction for Catholics and Jews to come together and create a universal message of how to properly teach and remember the Holocaust into the 21st Century," said AJC’s interreligious director Rabbi James Rudin.

Speaking of Holocaust education, the Anti-Defamation League is teaching Catholic educators from around the country in a program called "Bearing Witness: Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and Contemporary Issues Training Institute for Catholic School Educators." The program started as a pilot in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the U.S. Holocaust Museum and the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C..

The ADL will also produce a magazine aimed at helping Christian educators "to realize the evil impact of the Holocaust in contemporary history."

Dan Napolitani, a Catholic educator from Palm Beach said after training, "I came to realize that the history of anti-Semitism and the history of the Holocaust are essential to fully understanding Catholicism, and therefore essential to a good Catholic education."

Winners of the Rockaway (Queens) Catholic Jewish Council’s 15th annual Brotherhood/Sisterhood essay contest are being honored Sunday morning at a breakfast at St. Francis de Sales Church in Rockaway Beach.

The 30 winners were chosen from hundreds of entries by dozens of Rockaway public and parochial schools.

Winners will receive $50 US Savings Bonds or $10 cash awards. For more information call 718-634-5292.

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