Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Catholic Jews of America?

“Catholic Jews” are children or grand children of European immigrants who grew up along side Irish, Italian and Polish Catholic immigrant families in large American cities: think New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland and Newark.

Young Jews and Catholics in those urban centers became fierce rivals as they both struggled to gain admittance to the established American society. Jewish authors have recounted and I have heard personal stories of how gangs of Catholics regularly beat up young Jews as they walked to and from school. That physical violence was often accompanied by yells of “Christ killer” and “you dirty Jews killed our Lord.”

Those are the “Catholic Jews” who were negatively impacted by such bitter experiences. As a result, many Jews perceived the Catholic Church as the tangible symbol of anti-Jewish bigotry and hatred. Indeed, some Jews even refused to walk in front of the feared and mysterious Catholic houses of worship. For them, Catholicism meant ugly taunts, fistfights and a deep suspicion of all things Catholic, including the Pope in Rome.

-Pope Will Meet Two Kinds of Jews

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