Pope Benedict XVI was blessed by a rabbi -- and blessed him back --
Thursday in Brazil.
The pope met Reform Rabbi Henry Sobel and
other religious leaders during a five-day visit to Sao Paulo.
"With deep humility, I asked for a blessing and was blessed. I
also asked for the pope's permission to bless him and was authorized to do
so," Sobel said. "I'm feeling very light. It's not everyday that a rabbi
gets a blessing from the pope."
Sobel called Benedict "a friend of
the Jewish people" who "understands the importance of the interdependence
of Christian and Jewish traditions."
With more than 30 years at
the helm of Latin America's largest shul -- the 2,000-family CIP -- Sobel
gained a strong reputation as a defender of human rights during Brazil's
1964-1985 military dictatorship and is well known in Brazil for attempting
to strengthen relations among Jews, Christians and Muslims. Lately he has
been in the news after he was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting on a
visit to Florida.