Local synagogue hosts long-distance travelers for papal visit

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A local synagogue is hosting a Kentucky congregation during the papal visit. (WPVI)

After traveling 800 miles, members of a Kentucky congregation made it just in time for the pope's arrival Saturday.

Their destination, and home for the weekend, is the Congregation Beth El-Ner Tamid in Broomall.

The weary, but excited travelers said they are thrilled to be in Pennsylvania, to spend time with their new Jewish friends and to see Pope Francis from incredible seats at the papal Mass on Sunday.

"The synagogue has opened their hearts and their building and their everything to us, and we're so excited," said Deacon Matthew Keyser with the Holy Spirit Catholic Church.

About 50 parishioners from the Kentucky congregation wanted to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia, but needed a low-cost place to stay.

Ellen Glassman, the educational director at the synagogue, said a friend's sister in Kentucky reached out to her about room and board options.

"She called me to say can you think of any organization or YMCA or school, and as soon as she said school I said, 'school, synagogue, that's us,' " said Ellen Glassman of the Congregation Beth El-Ner Tamid.

"As a synagogue we ran with it because we thought it was just a wonderful opportunity for outreach in the community, to learn about how important it is to help others," said Rabbi Barry Blum of the Congregation Beth El-Ner Tamid.

And the hospitality didn't stop there. The travelers from Kentucky, many of them teens, had no guarantee they would see the pope outside of a big screen.

So the synagogue members contacted the World Meeting of Families to see if they could help, and were able to secure eighth row seats for Sunday's papal Mass.

"Oh my gosh, when we heard the news a lot of people in the room started crying. It was so amazing because we thought we were going to be miles away," said Abby Mysinger of Bowling Green, Ky.

The travelers will participate in an interfaith service and other activities at the synagogue Saturday before they head to the papal Mass on Sunday.

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religionreligionpope francispopepope us visitworld meeting of families 2015Broomall
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