Pope Benedict XVI became the first pontiff to ever set foot inside an American synagogue with his visit to New York's Park East Synagogue yesterday, the New York Times reports. Benedict, presented with matzo, a Seder plate and a Passover prayer book, spoke to the congregation of "building bridges of friendship" but didn't touch on any thorny issues.
Benedict has had a sometime troubled relationship with Judaism. His recent revival of a medieval prayer calling for the conversion of Jews caused a particular stir, but many think yesterday's visit could mark the start of a new chapter. "I find it moving to recall that Jesus, as a young boy, heard the words of scripture and prayed in a place such as this," Benedict told the congregation.