In BDS Blow, Pope’s “Kippa” to Fetch Thousands for Israeli Charity

April 13, 2016

3 min read

In a blow to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which advocates diverting funds away from Israeli interests, the proceeds of a rare auction are being earmarked towards an Israeli life-saving charity. According to a report in The Times of Israel, a skullcap worn by Pope Francis has been put up for auction and is expected to fetch some $36,000.

The white skullcap in question was famously given to the Pope by Italian television host Damiano Cavadi during an audience in St Peter’s Square in 2014. The Pope accepted a new skullcap from Cavadi, giving the other man his own in exchange. It is not uncommon for the Pope to provide his headcovering as a gift to faithful followers, but it is rare for such items to be put up for sale, as Catholics believe items worn by a pope become imbued with holiness when the pope dies and are then not permitted to be sold.

Cavadi was moved by the encounter, and, determined that the gesture, which he equated with having “received a pardon” in his comments on the auction site Catawiki, should continue to do good, he put the skullcap up for auction, with a large portion of the proceeds dedicated to the Israeli charity Save a Child’s Heart (SACH). In addition, the full commission fees will be donated to the charity. Such largesse is undoubtedly “gracious[ness] unto the poor”, as mentioned in Proverbs.

SACH is based out of Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, not far from Tel Aviv. The organization, founded by the late Dr. Ami Cohen, works to save as many children as possible with heart disease from developing countries, regardless of nationality, religion, race, gender or financial situation. SACH’s approach is twofold: it treats children suffering from heart disease and creates centers of competence in the countries from which they come.

SACH has treated over 4,000 children from over 50 countries across Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and South America, training 100 medical specialists from these same centers. Patients and their guardians are flown in from as far away as Tanzania and the Philippines, and the children are treated at little or no cost to the families.

SACH treats about 250 children annually, with roughly 50 percent coming from the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Iraq and Morocco, whose citizens are often on less-than-friendly terms with Israel. In fact, the organization’s motto is “Mending hearts, building bridges”.

Catawiki auctioneer Frederik Jamees estimates that the skullcap could fetch between $28,280 and $36,760 due to its rarity and value among Catholics.

“It is extremely rare that a religious symbol of this magnitude goes up for auction,” Jamees was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying.

“This auction is a unique opportunity for museums, collectors and devout Catholics to acquire ‘a relic in the making’ and also to help others by donating money to Save a Child’s Heart. Given the pope’s following, we expect to see an influx of bids from across the globe,” he added.

SACH volunteer Jeremy Wesfield was moved when he heard about the intended donation. He shared his experiences at SACH with Breaking Israel News.

“There were kids there from all over who had just met for the first time, and they all spoke different languages. They quickly learned to communicate other ways, using hand gestures, and we volunteers had to do the same.

“The staff at SACH create such a good environment that the kids, despite the hardships of surgery and being in a new and strange place, have a good time. The positive vibe is so strong, that we volunteers feel it, too, and I love being there.”

Wesfield says it’s not the amount of money the auction may raise that impresses him. “It has nothing to do with what [Cavadi] is auctioning or how much he raises. The fact that he’s willing to give the proceeds to such an amazing charity is great in and of itself.”

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