It was not only in the Land of Israel that Jewish holy places were occupied by an imperialistic religion that sought the end of Judaism.
In Toledo, Spain, no less than the Bishop of Toledo helped Jews organize a prayer service and concert, Dec. 11, in the innocent-sounding Santa Maria la Blanca Museum.
The museum, which apparently is a major tourist attraction, was previously a Catholic Church and — guess what — previous to that was the Ibn Shushan Synagogue. The Catholic Church, which still owns the building, sought to destroy Judaism by converting a synagogue into a church in the 14th century. Back then, the church’s persecution of the Jewish people — and the church’s offspring, the Inquisition — sought to extinguish Jewish life in Spain, and pretty much succeeded.
But today is a different day. Even the Bishop of Toledo acknowledged the terror and perversion in the church’s efforts centuries ago. The thing is, it’s not just centuries ago. The Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain has urged, so far without success, the Spanish government and the Catholic Church to offer a restitution plan for the building. It was, after all, erected as a synagogue, then stolen.
The prayer service and concert were billed as “a new moment of brotherhood in Judeo-Christian relations.”
We await the same developments in Islamic-Judeo relations, which might begin with a restitution plan for the 14-century Islamic use of the land on which the ancient Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem. The principle is the same.
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