John Paul II's Letter to a Jewish Friend
John Paul II's Letter to a Jewish Friend

John Paul II's Letter to a Jewish Friend

The Heart-Rending Story of Two Polish Boys Divided by World War II, Reunited by Love


108 Pages, 5.5 x 8.25

Formats: Paperback

Paperback, $16.95 (US $16.95) (CA $19.99)

Publication Date: June 2014

ISBN 9780824520441

Price: $16.95


Karol "Lolek" Wojtyla and Jerzy "Jurek" Kluger were schoolmates until the autumn of 1938. They played hockey and went to dances together, went skiing and swimming, and studied in one another's houses. They learned about life from their loving families and endured the agony of tests and entrance examinations as a team. High school graduation and creeping anti-Semitism led to their separation. In the years that followed, they endured the unendurable: the invasion of Poland, the destruction of the Wadowice community, the creation of the Jewish ghetto, the decimation of the synagogue; the army for Jurek, the catacombed seminary study for Lolek, the loss of beloved family members, and every day the fear for their very lives. It would be 50 years before their emotional reunion. The seed of hope that had been planted in their personal story would be magnified by world-changing events in politics and religion. So it was that when the rebuilt synagogue in Wadowice was about to be dedicated in 1989, Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to his Jewish friend, Jerzy Kluger, re-establishing the ties of friendship. When diplomatic ties between the Vatican and the State of Israel were being established on December 30, 1993, and again on April 7, 1994, when the Holocaust was being remembered in the Papal Concert to Commemorate the Shoah, on April 7, 1994, Lolek and Jurek, together, remembered, and were healed.


"This little gem of a book recounts the story of a friendship lost and a friendship regained. Pope John Paul II and Jerzy Kluger were close school friends in Wadowice, Poland, until they were separated by the Nazis and war. . . . A heartwarming story that offers glimpses into the personal experiences behind Pope John Paul's well-known condemnations of anti-Semitism." —Publishers Weekly

Author Biography

Gian Franco Svidercoschi is a Polish journalist and Vaticanologist. He served as deputy director of L'Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of the Holy See, and collaborated with Pope John Paul II on Gift and Mystery and with Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Archbishop of Krakow and the former personal secretary of Pope John Paul II, on A Life With Karol. He is the author of Stories of Karol.