An ancient olive tree that was transplanted from Nazareth to the Pope’s garden in the Vatican around six months ago has provided one of the high points in the special relationship between the State of Israel and the Holy See.
Israel’s Ambassador to the Vatican, Mordechai Lewy, explains that symbolic actions have a major role to play in the relations between the two states. “These symbolic gestures represent the reconciliation between Christianity and Judaism,” he said.
Lewy will leave his post as ambassador in July, after some five years in the job. We talked to him about his work, the Vatican, relations between Jews and Christians, and also about KKL-JNF. Mordechai Lewy formerly served as Israel’s Ambassador to Thailand, as a delegate in Berlin and as a diplomatic representative in Stockholm. Like the State he represents, he is 64 years old, and was even born on precisely the same day as the State of Israel: 5th Iyyar 5708 (1948).
In the course of his visit to Italy in 2011, the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised to present Pope Benedict XVI with an olive tree as a symbol of brotherhood between the two states. On his return to Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu appealed to KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler for help in keeping his promise. This request launched a complex operation.
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