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May 11, 2014 12:28 pm

A Jewish Cardinal Walks Into a Bar…

avatar by Jacob Kamaras / JNS.org

Cardinal Jean-Marie Aaron Lustiger. Photo: Claude TRUONG-NGOC via Wikimedia Commons.

No, this isn’t your typical “priest and a rabbi” joke. It’s a true story, in which the Christian and the Jew are actually the same person.

The French TV film “The Jewish Cardinal,” which has been receiving a limited release in the United States, follows the crucial years of the life of Cardinal Jean-Marie Aaron Lustiger (played by Laurent Lucas)—the late 1970s through the late 1980s.

Born to Ashkenazi parents in mid-1920s France, Aaron Lustiger converted to Catholicism in the late 1930s, taking the name Jean-Marie, and rose up through the church ranks in the following decades. Lustiger’s Jewish roots repeatedly become controversial—in the eyes of anti-Semitic priests, an outgoing chief rabbi of France, and even Lustiger himself, who views himself as a “token Jew” when he receives his papal appointment. Yet Lustiger disputes the characterization that he is both Jewish and Catholic, and maintains that he is Jewish culturally and by birth—even though he converted to, and practices, Catholicism.

Jason Stack reviews the film for JNS.org here.

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