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What to present your Jewish neighbors for Christmas

(RNS) — A few years in the past, once I was educating in a Jewish highschool, the mom of two college students informed me about how few Jews there have been within the central Canadian metropolis the place she lived.

And about how, one yr, her co-workers had thought it might be amusing, at their yearly Christmas get together, to have the one Jewish particular person within the workplace give a speech on “What I Need for Christmas.” They probably meant no insult, however she accepted, and after announcing the title of her speech, she proceeded to cite a protracted checklist of rabidly antisemitic statements from early Church figures.

There was St. Gregory of Nyssa (to whom Jews had been “companions of the satan” and a “race of vipers”) and St. John Chrysostom (for whom Jews had been “no higher than hogs and goats”). She continued with gems of Jew-hatred from the writings of Martin Luther (like his excoriation of Jews in “On the Jews and Their Lies” as “venomous beasts, vipers, disgusting scum … devils incarnate”).

As she went on her listeners squirmed to listen to from medieval Christian Jew-haters, and later ones, like Father Coughlin, the “radio priest” who spouted antisemitic opinions on the airwaves within the Nineteen Thirties.

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After a pause, she ended her speech with: “Now you realize what I need for Christmas.”

It was a touché second, to make sure, nevertheless it was uncouth of her to topic her co-workers, who had been probably solely making an attempt to have a good-spirited time, to her litany of antisemitic libels. The extra so as a result of she absolutely knew that modern Christianity has come a great distance because the days of Chrysostom and firm.  

Luther’s Jew-hatred has been decisively repudiated by Lutheran church buildings all through the world. Jews at present get pleasure from heat relations with each Catholics and Protestants. Many evangelical congregations are among the many most devoted supporters of Israel.

Antisemitism appears lately to have discovered ample refuge in different perception methods, although pockets of Christian antisemitism do nonetheless exist.

In Arizona, Pastor Steven Anderson of the Trustworthy Phrase Baptist Church has preached on-line that “the Jews imagine that it’s okay for them to steal from Gentiles” — an assertion that, in case it must be stated, is unfaithful. 

Then there’s Rick Wiles, the Florida pastor who runs “TruNews,” a nightly newscast with greater than 18 million views on YouTube. Jews and Israel are recurrent targets for his bile. 

“At present’s Zionists are responsible of the identical sins as historic Jews,” he has proclaimed. “They constructed Zion on blood.” He has referred to a decidedly non-Jewish billionaire as “Rabbi Warren Buffett.” 

The impact of those sorts of statements isn’t troublesome to discern.

John Timothy Earnest, who killed one particular person and injured three others, together with an 8-year-old little one, in his assault on a Poway, California, synagogue on Passover, 2019, belonged to an Orthodox Presbyterian Church and prefaced his taking pictures spree with a declaration that expressed Christian motives for killing Jews.

Pittsburgh Synagogue shooter Robert Bowers, who shouted “All Jews should die!” earlier than killing 11 members of a Jewish congregation in 2018, had written on a social media profile that “jews are the kids of devil,” echoing a phrase from the Gospel of John.

No Christian of excellent will, in fact, is accountable for any of these haters. 

However, Longfellow’s phrases, in his well-known poem “Christmas Bells,” come to thoughts:

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There isn’t a peace on earth,” I stated;
    For hate is powerful,
    And mocks the track
Of peace on earth, good-will to males!

He ended his poem on a hopeful notice, that, finally, “The Fallacious shall fail/ The Proper prevail …”

That may be a part of a Christian poem, nevertheless it’s a really Jewish thought, the true that means of the much-misused time period tikkun olam: “the restore of the world.”

How can Christians — and Muslims — of excellent will assist deliver that about, no less than with regard to countering the evil of Jew-hatred?

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For starters, by attending to know Jewish folks they meet, reside close to or work with. By studying about Jewish beliefs and practices. Web sites akin to and are invaluable guides. Conspiracy theories and misinformation abound lately in lots of realms, and Jews and Judaism are significantly in style targets of the wild-eyed. However the fact is on the market.

And at last, by not permitting relations, co-workers or pals to get away with expressions of negativity about Jews. Ignoring en passant racist or sexist or antisemitic feedback is straightforward. Difficult them is courageous.

Extra Christians of excellent will taking these steps can be a most cherished reward, any time of yr.

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