MANILA The message of religious tolerance and friendship was loud and clear for the Jewish community of the Philippines as Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle visited a synagogue for the first time.
"It's so beautiful that we see the Cardinal coming here, coming and honoring the Synagogue. Tolerance, that's the key message the message of tolerance and friendship," Rabbi Eliyahu Azaria said in an interview on the sidelines of Tagle's visit to the Beth Yaacov Synagogue Makati on Tuesday.
Tagle was at the Great Synagogue in the Philippines to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Israel-Vatican ties. Joining him were representatives from the office of the Papal Nuncio.
Azaria said his trip to the Jewish worship house only shows that the ties between the Catholic Church, the Jewish people, and the people of the Philippines remained intact.
"I think it's a beautiful thing when we can come together even though our beliefs are a little bit different, we share so much in common," the Rabbi said.
Azaria, together with Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz toured the cardinal inside Synagogue, showing the Filipino Catholic Church leader their 20-year-old Torah Scroll.
The Torah Scroll, Judaism's holiest book, contains the entire text of the Old Testament and is painstakingly handwritten on a cow's hide.
For Jewish Cassey Blumenthal, daughter of Beth Yaacov Synagogue's director, Tagle's visit signifies peace.
"Interreligious relationship is very important and I think it's a great thing to integrate both religions because it promotes peace and prosperity," she told the Philippine News Agency.
"The cardinal visiting here shows that there is peace," she added.
Harpaz, for his part, underscored Tagle's visit as "historic" and "significant" because of the history the Philippines has with the Jewish people.
Manila had been instrumental in the creation of Israel when former President Manuel Roxas voted in favor of the United Nations Resolution 181 on the creation of the Jewish State. Among others, former president Manuel L. Quezon also opened the country's door to Jewish refugees fleeing from the Holocaust.
"The Philippines has an amazing history with the Jewish people, it always opened its door to Jews, welcomed the Jews. There is no anti-Semitism here," he stressed.
"(At present) we have positive and friendly relations, it's a blessing for us (that we have) this historic visit of the cardinal to this Great Synagogue in Makati," he said.
After the tour, Tagle, Azaria and the representatives from the Papal Nuncio conducted a round table discussion, where the overview of Judaism and the Israel-Holy See bilateral relations were tackled. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency