Meeting With The Pope

In the Fall of 2017, our Congregation from Miami, Florida completed a long awaited mission to Rome, Italy, where we met with Pope Francis. Led by Rabbi Mario Rojzman, a South Florida Leadership Mission traveled to The Vatican in mid-October. Vatican City is a unique and wonderful place. The massive structure not only exudes an air of spirituality and faith, but it is amazing to walk in such historic, grand structures. We all read about The Vatican in history books and see it in movies and on the news, but nothing prepares you for actually walking into the massive, column-lined circle that is St. Peter’s Square, standing in St. Peter’s Basilica where so many historic events have taken place, or gazing up at the delicate brushwork of Michelangelo's fresco, The Last Judgement, in the Sistine Chapel.

On October 18th, we were at Saint Peter’s Square with about 70,000 people anxiously awaiting our meeting with Pope Francis. The fifty members of the South Florida Leadership Mission and myself sat in the front row. I had designed a solid silver zucchetto/yarmulke (an ecclesiastical skullcap) as a token of appreciation to present to him. When the Holy Father entered, everyone stood to greet him. He had a warm smile and he greeted each person with genuine kindness and enthusiasm. When he came up to me, he shook my hand and I presented him with the zucchetto/yarmulke. He held the cap for a few minutes, turning it over in his hands and admiring the work. When he was finished, he smiled at me and thanked me for the gift.

Meeting the Pope was a truly wonderful, unique, and memorable experience. I am so grateful the South Florida Leadership Mission and I had a chance to hold audience with the Holy Father. I am so honored, too, to have presented His Holiness with a meaningful, handcrafted gift, and that he was so receptive to the gesture. The Vatican is a marvelous, awe-inspiring place, and I hope everyone is able to experience it at least once in their lifetime.

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