Thursday, March 09, 2017
Jesus was a Jew
We have friends, a young couple, whose child loves preschool. They are very pleased with the environment of the place, and their little one comes home happy. But this new year has been unsettling for all of them because the school, which is in a Jewish community centre, has been evacuated twice after phoned-in bomb threats. Sadly, this is the reality for several Jewish community centres in Canada and the United States. There have been more than a hundred such threats this year, swastikas painted on doors of synagogues and residences, grave stones toppled in Jewish cemeteries. It is sickening, cowardly, and a reminder that anti-Semitism continues to lurk not far into the shadows of our culture.
As we move through Lent we need to be aware of the sorry subtext of this season of spiritual preparation in our Christian faith. For centuries, including during the Nazi regime in Germany, priests and pastors would stir up the "faithful" with sermons denouncing Jews as Christ-killers. The result was often violence against Jewish neighbours, including destruction of property, beatings, even murders.
I wonder what we need to do in our various communities to demonstrate solidarity with those who are Jewish and are unsettled by these acts of hate. They may not be directly affected but they must wonder about a shift in societal attitudes which opens the door to this sort of garbage. Here in Belleville and in many communities across the country Christians and others of good will marched and kept vigil with Muslim neighbours after the senseless murders of worshippers in a mosque in Quebec City. Surely it won't take a similar tragedy to awaken us to the need to speak and act openly against anti-Jewish activities.
It seems that Lent is an appropriate time to affirm our respect for Jewish brothers and sisters, reminding ourselves that Jesus was a Jew.