Pope Benedict XVI, right, talks with Yisrael Meir Lau the Chairman of Yad Vashem
Pope Benedict XVI, right, talks with Yisrael Meir Lau, the chairman of Yad Vashem and Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, left, May 11, 2009.Photo by AP
There is a popular Jewish folktale that opens with a young boy and his rabbinic father playing chess together. One day, the boy is kidnapped from his home and taken to live among the gentiles. He is told that his father is dead, and over time the boy forgets about his past, becomes a parish priest, and, recognized for his superior learning acumen, rises through the ranks and becomes the pope.
And so the story goes, it is at the very moment when this same pope is about to sign a papal edict against the local Jewish community that the boy's father is chosen by the Jewish community to plead their case before the pope. It is at the very moment that the two sit down to play a game of chess, the boy pope and his father realize what has happened, and the two live happily ever after.
Or so we might have thought. Because the story ends with the pope, despite being now aware of his Jewish roots, remaining the pope. In spite of his otherwise traumatic ordeal, he does not convert back and become a Talmud scholar.
This leaves us asking: Why would a Jewish folktale choose to end a story this way?
In some ways, the conclusion of the story serves as a perfect metaphor for the complex relationship that has existed for centuries between Jews and Catholics. Chess, like Israel and the Jewish people's relationship with the Vatican, has always been rather complicated. Yet, as the story sees a happy ending in the boy's decision to remain the pope, so too there has always a hope among Jewish community for a happy ending, in which the papacy (even if the pope is really a nice Jewish boy) wields its power to help improve the lot of the Jewish community.
Often throughout Jewish history the fortunes of the Jewish people would turn from better to worse or worse to better on the whim of a pope. More often than not it was the former. All of that changed when Pope John Paul II stepped into the scene. As a Polish pope who grew up with Jewish friends before and during the Holocaust, Pope John Paul II displayed a unique kindness and sensitivity to the Jewish people throughout his tenor as pope.

Read more at - http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/rabbis-round-table/will-pope-benedict-xvi-s-successor-forget-the-mutually-enriching-relationship-of-jews-and-christians.premium-1.506896