World briefs: Yad Vashem director meets pope at Vatican and more

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Brazilian Jewish school takes in hospital patients escaping a fire

A Jewish school in Rio de Janeiro took in more than 150 patients escaping a hospital fire, many of them in sick beds, on June 7, JTA reported.


A fire broke out in the Hospital São Lucas’ laundry room that produced thick smoke and required an evacuation.

Employees at the hospital in Copacabana, one of Rio’s most Jewish neighborhoods, wheeled patients to the nearby TTH Barilan School and the ground floors of local apartment buildings.

“Humanity is so complicated that, when you do the right thing, they say you’re like Superman,” TTH Barilan President Rafael Antaki said. “The hospital’s emergency plan was successful, and so was ours, focused on chesed and love.”

The unprecedented scene of hospital beds lined up in the school’s courtyard made parents, teachers and employees emotional. Kindergarten classes were temporarily suspended, but elementary, junior high and high school classes were not interrupted.

One patient needed to be resuscitated in the courtyard, the O Dia newspaper reported.

Pope Francis and Dani Dayan
Pope Francis receives Yad Vashem Director Dani Dayan at the Vatican, June 9, 2022. (Courtesy of Yad Vashem via JTA)

Pope hosts Yad Vashem director at Vatican, doesn’t discuss Catholic Church’s Holocaust controversies

Amid controversies concerning the Vatican’s Holocaust-era record, Pope Francis and the head of Yad Vashem met for a first-of-its-kind talk on June 9, JTA reported.

Yad Vashem Director Dani Dayan met with the pope at his office in the Vatican. During their 30-minute talk, they spoke about ways to “bolster collaborative activities” in areas of “Holocaust remembrance, education and documentation, and to discuss efforts to fight antisemitism and racism worldwide,” Dayan’s office wrote in a statement.

Dayan thanked the pope for his 2020 decision to open the Vatican’s archives related to the wartime Pope Pius XII, whose critics say did too little to intervene on behalf of the 6 million Jews that the Nazis murdered.

But they did not discuss the Holocaust-related controversies, including the ongoing beatification of Pius XII, that have strained Jewish-Catholic relations for years, Dayan said. Instead, Dayan focused on areas of consensus and on strengthening ties with the Vatican, he said.

A first: Female Israeli authors outpaced males in publishing in 2021

For the first time, female authors in Israel published more books of prose and poetry than their male counterparts, the National Library of Israel said in its 2021 annual “Book Report,” JTA reported.

Of the 7,344 books sent to the library in 2021, 25% were exclusively classified as prose and poetry. Just over half, 52%, were credited to female authors, giving them a majority for the first time since the library began collecting statistics.

Among the notable releases by women were “A Penguin Café at the Edge of the World,” a children’s story by author and poet Nurit Zarchi, recipient of the 2021 Israel Prize for literature, and “Strangers,” a bestselling novel by author Lihi Lapid, advocate and wife of Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Approximately 92% of books published in Israel in 2021 were in Hebrew, with 4.8% in English, 2.2% in Arabic and a handful in Russian.

— Compiled by Andy Gotlieb

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