May 23, 2009

Friars vs. State of Israel

Riffing on the case of Dr. Tim Whatley, who was accused of converting to Judaism "just for the jokes," one of my classmates in the Order once mocked me with the accusation that I entered religious life "just for the bizarre stories."

Here's a great one that I heard today:

Back in the 1930s someone in the Order decided we ought to have a house of studies in Jerusalem, where brothers could live while they studied Sacred Scripture or patristics at the local institutes and universities. Ten years or so later, it was all ready to go. But in 1947, before any friars actually studied there, it was commandeered by the British as a military headquartes as the "British Mandate" was coming to an end. Then, during the 1948 war, the Israelis took it over in the same way. Once independence was established, instead of returning our new house of studies to us, the Israelis turned it into a psychiatric hospital.

This continued for about fifty years. Israel paid a small rent to the Order for the use of our building, but did not raise it once the whole time. In order not to lose the property through adverse possession, a couple of friars from the Venetian province stayed there, living in the adjacent small building where the custodian and his mother also lived!

At some point in the 1990s, someone decided that enough was enough and the Order hired a Jewish lawyer and sued the government of Israel. Not only did we win back the use of the property, but the Order was awarded all of the back rent, adjusted for time and inflation. It will now be renovated and turned into a guest house for Capuchins and folks with them on pilgrimage to the Holy Places.

This is better than the long yarn about the friars who lived in the Ringling Brothers Mansion.

1 comment:

GrandmaK said...

Reminds me of a phrase often used by a friend of mine. "What goes around comes around." Patience and perseverance really did PAY off! Have a grand day! Cathy