June 25, 2024 at 3:23 p.m.

STAND UP TO HATE!

Diocese holds Jewish-Catholic gathering at the ‘Portal’ statue in Albany
Father David Mickiewicz, center, leads a song in front of The Portal sculpture on Friday, June 21, 2024, at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Albany, N.Y. The event, which included prayers and singing, recreated the sculpture’s dedication. The Portal represents forgiveness between Christians and Jews.  Cindy Schultz for The Evangelist
Father David Mickiewicz, center, leads a song in front of The Portal sculpture on Friday, June 21, 2024, at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Albany, N.Y. The event, which included prayers and singing, recreated the sculpture’s dedication. The Portal represents forgiveness between Christians and Jews. Cindy Schultz for The Evangelist (Courtesy photo of Cindy Schultz)

By MIKE MATVEY | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

The Diocese of Albany has always been at the forefront of the Jewish-Catholic dialogue.

In 1986, the first reconciliation service in the world between Jews and Catholics was held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany. 

Father David Mickiewicz (r.) and Rabbi Greg Weitzman and others walk through the statue as a gesture of friendship. (Cindy Schultz photo for The Evangelist)

The service, titled “From Fear to Friendship,” took place on Palm Sunday in 1986, when Bishop Howard J. Hubbard formally apologized on behalf of the church for centuries of anti-Semitism.

The service was commemorated by the sculpture titled “Portal,” which was erected in 1989 outside the Cathedral by Schenectady sculptor Robert Blood. At the dedication, on March 19, 1989, in what was another unprecedented event, Bishop Hubbard and Rabbi Martin Silverman joined hands to walk through the 16-foot, one-ton arch of 12-gauge steel, as a gesture of friendship. The sculpture is of a Jew and Christian in embrace.

Nearly 40 years later, with the rise of anti-Semitism at record levels, Father James Kane, the director for Interreligious Affairs for the Diocese of Albany, Father David Mickiewicz, rector of the Cathedral, and Kathleen Kerrigan Duff, member of the Commission for Interfaith Affairs, felt the time was right for another visit to the Portal.

Members of the interfaith community take a photo together at the “Portal” statue outside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany on June 21 after a Jewish-Catholic gathering there called out the rising scourge of anti-Semitism. 

On June 21, Father Kane led a Jewish-Catholic gathering titled “Stand up to Hatred of Jews” at the famed statue that faces out on Madison Avenue in Albany. 

“We are standing here at this Portal, which was dedicated March 19, 1989, and you need to be a little farther away to catch it, but it is a Jew and Christian in embrace and the sculpture commemorates the great event that we had here in this Cathedral — “From Fear to Friendship” — on March 23, 1986, that spearheaded our modern Jewish-Roman Catholic dialogue, co-founded by Bunny Kahn and Joan Dunham, through the Commission for Ecumenical & Interreligious Affairs on this day, 40 years ago,” Father Kane said to begin the ceremony. “The Book of Ecclesiastes teaches there is a time to be silent and a time to speak and this is a time to speak.”

Taking part in the ceremony were numerous rabbis, including Rabbi Beverly Magidson, Rabbi Greg Weitzman, of Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany, Rabbi Rafi Spitzer, of Congregation Agudat Achim in Niskayuna, as well as other Jewish leaders of the Jewish-Roman Catholic Dialogue Committee. Catholic leaders including Father Robert Longobucco, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, Father Mickiewicz and Father Thomas Morrette, co-chair of the Jewish-Roman Catholic Dialogue. Members of the interfaith community were also present.

Father Robert Longobucco offers a prayer for an end to anti-Semitism. 

The gathering started with Father Longobucco offering a prayer for an end to anti-Semitism: “Almighty and Merciful God, we turn to you as always in the most precarious and dangerous of times. We turn to you brothers and sisters adoring and worshiping our God. And we ask for your help to repel the evil of hatred that divides people; especially we ask for your intercession that the sin of anti-Semitism can be eradicated and hearts of compassion and goodwill reign among our people and around the world. 

“For we are a people who have followed Abraham, our Father in faith. We have turned to Moses for instruction and cherish the liberation he brought forth.

“And we are inspired by prophets and psalmists who sung of the Lord’s mercy and justice. Today, in front of this Portal, a symbol of connection between the people of two faiths striving for peace and welcoming divine harmony, we renew our commitment to speak loudly and boldly as a people bonded by a common heritage and linked by unbreakable chains of faith and destiny and to pray fervently for an end of the scourge of anti-Semitism, to use this fraught period to initiate new pathways of understanding and to forge an alliance of love that touches all people, reaches out to the poor and summons the better angels of our nature so that God may be honored in all things. Amen.”

Father James Kane, who led the Jewish-Catholic gathering at the Portal, begins the ceremony. 

Following a reading from Proverbs by Rabbi Magidson, Father Mickiewicz and Rabbi Weitzman then sang Psalm 133 (A Song of Ascent of David): “How good and pleasant it is, when brothers dwell together as one! Like fine oil on the head, running down upon the beard, upon the beard of Aaron, upon the collar of his robe. Like dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion. There the Lord has decreed a blessing, life for evermore!”

The highlight of the ceremony was Father Mickiewicz and Rabbi Weitzman walking together  through the Portal, recreating that famous event nearly 40 years ago, singing “We Shall Overcome.” They were then followed by the rest of the group. The gathering ended with a prayer from Rabbi Spitzer, president of the board of rabbis, and the Blessing of Aaron read by Duff and Bonnie Cramer.


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