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The sight was jarring Friday: Pope Benedict XVI at the Park East Synagogue just before the start of the Jewish Sabbath.

It was the first time a pope had set foot inside a Jewish house of worship in the United States, a visit made at the invitation of Rabbi Arthur Schneier, who broke the silence in the synagogue by saying, "Your Holiness, a heartfelt shalom ... warm, warm welcome."

Benedict encouraged worshippers to "continue building bridges of friendship" with different ethnic and religious groups in their neighborhoods.

The invitation carried a significance rooted in the Holocaust, which affected both men profoundly. After his 14th birthday in 1941, Benedict -- then called Joseph Ratzinger -- was forced to join the Hitler Youth.

Schneier is a Holocaust survivor who was born in Vienna, Austria, and lived under the Nazis in Budapest, Hungary, during World War II. He came with his mother to the United States in 1947, determined to keep a promise he had made to his grandfather, also a rabbi, who did not escape the Nazis. Read full article »

CNN correspondents Steve Kastenbaum and Mary Snow contributed to this report.

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