Chief Rabbi of Rome

I've long thought that a perfect rebuttal to the idea that Pius XII was "Hitler's Pope" is the fact that the chief rabbi of Rome during WWII converted to Catholicism and took the Pope's name--Eugenio-- as his Christian name. Rabbi Zolli's memoirs are a great read, and his book on Jesus, The Nazarene, is on my reading list. Zolli was a scripture scholar, and it was his study of scripture more than anything else that lead to his conversion. Well, that and Christ's appearing to him while he was serving in the synagogue one day shortly after the war. Here's an interesting article on him for the short term. Via Insight Scoop.

During his teenage years, the image of that crucifix sparked Israel’s curiosity so much that he began secretly studying the New Testament, often taking a copy into the fields where he would read quietly and contemplate. He found delight in Christ’s sayings, especially those from the Sermon on the Mount: "But I say to you: love your enemies," and "blessed are the pure in heart." And from the cross: "Father, forgive them." The New Testament really was a new covenant crammed with messages of extraordinary beauty and importance.

For Israel Zolli the teachings of Christ truly marked out the Kingdom of Heaven, as a place reserved for those persecuted, who in eschewing vengeance had loved instead. From then on the Gospel would prove an irresistible attraction and when studying the Old Testament for the Rabbinate he read further on into the New, regarding it as the natural continuation of the Old. Many years later, Zolli’s daughter Miriam would tell Judith Cabaud that her father had once taken her to the Sistine Chapel in Rome and used the prophets, apostles, and saints painted on the ceiling to explain the bond uniting the Old and New Testament. But in Israel’s youth the clue connecting the two was how closely the man on the cross matched the identity of the suffering servant from Isaiah. That Zolli would hit on the idea that the Gospels were inside the Old Testament from the beginning was seemingly inevitable.