The papacy of John Paul II will be remembered for many high points. Now, thanks to children's book entitled Friday Night with the Pope young readers can learn about the tremendous efforts at Jewish Catholic reconciliation made by this amazing man.
Friday Night with the Pope tells the story of author Jacques Shore's 2003 encounter with the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II in the Vatican residence. Accompanied by his mother Lena, Shore shared a Shabbat celebration with the pope. The story is retold fictitiously through the eyes of 11-year-old Jacob. Shore shares the following comments on recounting the events from a child's perspective:
"I wanted to share the story through the eyes of a young boy because many of us felt like children in the presence of the late Pontiff. I also believe that my story, which explains the lessons of the Pope, would be better understood by children reading what happened during that Friday night Shabbat dinner. By children understanding the truths expressed in this book, I am confident that they may be better able to share the Pope's lessons. It is my wish that it will build bridges among all people on Earth."
Jacob is brimming with excitement as he and his mother enter the Vatican to share this special evening. As they walk, Lena shares stories of her childhood friend, Karol Wojtyla. She remembers her friend as a young man who loved sports and was always tried to build bridges between both Jewish and Catholic teammates. She shares that Karol, becoming Pope John Paul II, went on to continue his efforts to build relationships as the first pope to make an official visit to a synagogue or to visit Auschwitz. Jacob speaks with the Pope about his call to the priesthood and a life of serving God and others.
In a beautiful section of the book, the Pope invited Jacob to say the special Kiddush blessing for their Shabbat meal together. Over the course of the meal, Jacob learns much about the Pope and his hopes and dreams for a united world where all people, regardless of religion or ethnicity, care for one another. In taking leave, Jacob is encouraged by Pope John Paul II to share with others the need for a world filled with a spirit of love and friendship.
Beautiful illustrations by Amalia Hoffman set off the gently loving tone of Friday Night with the Pope. In sharing this story with readers of any faith, Jacques Shore has answered Pope John Paul II's invitation to share in the dream of a world united in love and caring. I recommend this book for readers ages five and up and compliment the wonderful message of hope and reconciliation reinforced in this story.