Israel Policy

Published on 08/15/1985 | by Emanuel Winston | Archived in: Israel Policy


Jewish Treasures Held by the Vatican Should be Returned

A vast repository of treasure which contains priceless objects from all over the world has been carefully assembled over the centuries and catalogued as only a librarian with limitless time and infinite patience could. This vast treasure house is in Rome — in the Vatican.

For centuries, leaders of the Catholic Church have received gifts from the various adherents of Catholicism: generals, religious zealots, leaders of nations, bandits, saints and simple people. Some gifts were of gold and jewels, some merely manuscripts. Some came from the heart and some from a desire to buy the blessing of the church. Some of it was plundered from shrines of other religions. It is of those plundered gifts I wish to speak.

In 586 BCE (Before the Common Era), the Holy Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and plundered. Priceless gold vessels were hidden or taken as booty. The Temple was re-built.  But then, in 70 CE, the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans. It was stripped of its treasures, which were then paraded through Rome. Roman engravings picture the great gold candelabra of the Temple being carried through the streets of Rome under the Arch of Titus.

Since that time, many synagogues have been looted of precious ritual objects, Torah scrolls and manuscripts. Some of these things were lost, melted down or destroyed. However, many such items were given by the plunderer to the Holy See.

The Catholic Church, once the implacable foe of the Hebrews, now became the keeper of its religious treasures. It has stored the Jews’ treasures that were once used by the Jews in the service of God. As long as Jews lived in the Diaspora, without a homeland, that was perhaps acceptable.

Now however, Israel has once again become the focus of Jewish life. We are no longer a wandering people without a homeland. Jerusalem is once more alive with prayer echoing from the stone walls of our beautiful ancient city.

It is time for our Christian brothers to relieve themselves of the weighty burden of safe-keeping our treasures. Christianity, as Islam, sprang from the loins of the Israelites. Each owes the Hebrew Israelite people a debt of honor and gratitude.

Since 1948, the Holy See had the opportunity to discharge its holy obligation by returning Jewish venerated articles to Israel. Jews will be eternally grateful for the return of these precious religious artifacts.

The Jews were instructed by God to fashion serving vessels out of gold, silver and brass, to make sacrificial knives mounted with jewels, to make trays to hold offerings, to mount eternal lights in their places of worship.

Jewish ritual art developed over the centuries to include elaborately designed silver crowns for the Torah and many other ritual objects. These things, which kindle warmth in the soul of a Jew, are mere earthly wealth in other hands.

When the Philistines captured the Holy Ark of the Covenant from the Jews at Shilo, they believed it would do for them what it did for the Jews. Instead, it became a burden, and soon they returned it to its owners. The Holy See can bring a great blessing upon itself by allowing the treasures of the Jews to be reunited with the land and the people of Israel.

About the Author



Manny Winston, my late husband, flew from Chicago to Israel to volunteer during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. He arrived with US secretary of state Henry Kissinger’s first ceasefire on October 21; I followed on October 30th.

Manny was picking grapefruit at Kibbutz Dalia when his friend, the artists, Sol Baskin called with a permit to enter the war zone. They drove to meet Gen. Ariel “Arik” Sharon at the Suez Canal. “Shalom” Baskin was part of the Mahal volunteers from America to the IDF, and a commissioned officer in Mahal. He was Arik’s commanding officer during the 1948 War of Independence, and they remained friends.

Manny brought his two Leica cameras and photographed an outstanding photo exposé on October 29 and 30. He saw and smelled the “killing fields” He met with Sharon, the young soldiers who had survived the destroyed tanks and he saw how the blown tank turret, flipped upside down destroyed the lives of those brave souls inside.

Manny did see these effects and, because he was a true Renaissance man, a graphic thinker who was a painter, sculptor and political analyst, he envisioned a solution to the weak point of the tank. He described a technique to conquer that weakness to Sharon, who sent him to Maj.-Gen. Israel Tal, the developer of the famed Merkava tank.

Manny’s “leap of imagination” created what became “Blazer” or “Reactive” Armor. He designed rectangles of hollow metal boxes with an explosive charge inside. These ‘so-called’ “skirts” were placed around the neck of the tank turret so that when hit, the explosive charge therein would push the incoming ballistic missile out, thereby saving the tank and its crew. This was compatible with the primary goal of Gen. Tal’s Merkava tanks: Defense of the Tank Crew.

That, along with speed, maneuverability, effective shooting and protection against damaging desert sand, were what made the Merkava “The Tank a Jewish Mother Would Love,” as Manny called it.

He also designed a better bridge for crossing the Canal – easier to carry and assemble, and less susceptible to the huge holes the tanks had already created on the day’s existing bridge.

Manny continued to submit creative concepts for defense and offense to Israel’s military industries – for which he received his Israeli citizenship and security clearance. Many of his concepts and ideas were adopted throughout the years. He never asked for credit or remuneration but even today, I see his concepts being used, either in action or in military articles. Someday I hope to publish the “WINSTON DEFENSE DESIGNS,” either online or in a book – a very big book, with his original drawings.

The Yom Kippur War was a seminal turning point in Israel’s history. We did win. It was a miracle, given the forces mounted against us, in number and backed up the Soviet Union.

We have 40 mounted color photographs by Emanuel A. Winston, ready to show at a traveling or permanent exhibition, which will enhance our appreciation of what our men and generals went through and achieved.

The Yom Kippur War was also a seminal turning point in the lives of the Winston family. It was our second trip to Israel. We had tried to make Aliyah in 1962 but didn’t succeed. I made Aliyah on November 7, 1979. Manny died on June 12, 2012, and is now buried on the Mount of Olives.

I sold the home he built in Highland Park, Illinois, in August 2012, and brought his manuscripts and published papers, to the home I built in Israel in 1992. Two of our sons and their families also live in the Jewish state.

My heartfelt message for you, the reader, is to invite all my friends, family and Internet friends to come to Israel. This is where a Jew can be truly Jewish.

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