(Times of Israel) During a historic meeting with Pope John Paul II in 2004, then-Sephardic and Ashkenazi chief rabbis of Israel Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger reportedly threw caution and diplomacy to the wind and asked after the whereabouts of Judaism’s lost Menorah.
It was the first official visit of Israel’s highest religious authority to the Vatican, and on the docket were a wide range of sensitive religious and political subjects. Still, the rabbis insisted on raising this rather touchy issue.
Less than 10 years before Amar and Metzger’s pontifical visit, in 1996 Israeli Minister of Religious Affairs Shimon Shetreet issued a similar request during a meeting with John Paul II. And in 2004, then-president Moshe Katsav would do the same.
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So it came as no surprise that the Menorah rumor was the first thing Chief Rabbi of Rome Riccardo Di Segni mentioned when he spoke with The Times of Israel about “Menorah: Cult, History and Myth,” the upcoming exhibition co-hosted by the Vatican Museums and the Jewish Museum of Rome, which will run from May 15 through July 23.