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.