The Longest Hatred!

Ron RossArticles, Ron Ross

Vigil Squirrel Hill Neighbourhood
People gather for a vigil in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP

Anti-Semitism has been called the longest hatred. It is evil, violent, and inflicted with shocking incidents.

Last October shooter Robert Bowers killed eleven Jews and wounded six during a Shabbat worship time at the Tree of Life, Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Bowers screamed “All Jews Must Die” during the attack. “The Darkest Hour in our City’s History” declared analyst and commentator Jim Denison (Denison Forum, christianheadlines.com)

Carly Davis writing for Tablet Magazine said, “This particular crime was incredibly violent, a deadly act of anti-Semitism —an ancient,  systematic hatred that must be named, studied, understood, and ferociously fought. Anti-Semitism must be named. And Jews must not be erased from the specific form of hatred that is targeting us and killing us.” (Stop Erasing the Jewish Victims of Anti-Semitic Violence, Carly Davis. tabletmag.com, October 30, 2018)

Dr Jeff Cohen walked to the bedside of the shooter, 46 years old Bowers. “I looked at him and I wanted to understand why did he do this. I had no answers.’  Cohen, the Jewish doctor leads the team at Allegheny General Hospital. They treated the mass murderer. “How are you feeling” the Doctor asked. “I’m feeling OK” came the reply. 

As Dr Cohen left, the FBI agent in charge said, ‘I don’t know how you did that. I’m not sure I could of.’ Dr Cohen, a Jew, knows history. He has been there, done that! As a Jewish commentator said, “We mourn! It’s what we do!” The doctor is also a member of Etz Chaim.

The Sunday after the attack at a public vigil, the Israel Minister of Diaspora and Education Naftali Bennet spoke from Psalm 23. “Today we stand in the shadow of death. In the shadow of a cowardly, terror attack on Jews who were in a synagogue to pray. The deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States.”

Jason Greenblatt who travelled with President Trump to Pittsburgh just days later wrote: “A murderous ideology and hatred has reared its vicious and ugly head in our great nation. Jews around the world are in grave danger from the scourge of anti-Semitism. All Americans are in danger from this scourge. There is only one solution to this—we must call out and root out all forms of hatred, wherever it exists. We must teach our children to love, to respect, to fight all hatred, and to stand brave and tall.” (Assistant to President Trump: What I Learned from my Visit to the Tree of Life Synagogue, Jason Greenblatt, Fox News, 31 October, 2018)

I marvel at the resilience of the victims. Ellie Weisel the Holocaust survivor, Nobel prizewinner, activist and author said, “We must choose between the violence of adults and the smiles of children. Between the ugliness of hate and the will to oppose it. Between inflicting suffering and humiliation on our fellow man and offering him the solidarity and hope he deserves.”

In the midst of anti-Semitic violence and horror we must determine to bring forth light.

Anti-Semitism is not a 21st Century phenomenon. It dates back many years and the church is not innocent of its birth.

Early in the second century, Christian leaders proclaimed the church ‘the New Israel.’ Jews were maligned, cursed, humiliated and ridiculed.

Justin Martyr wrote ‘Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew’ in 160 CE.  He declared then Jews had been separated from other nations. “Jews are desolate’ he wrote ‘forbidden to enter Jerusalem.’ He taught God had finished with the Jew and the divine promises were then transferred to the Church.

Church Father Origen wrote, “And these calamities they (the Jews) have suffered, because they are a most wicked nation.”

John Chysostom said, ‘the synagogue is not only a brothel and a theatre, it is also a den of robbers, and a lodging of wild beasts.’ These vile remarks came because the Jews were seen as having crucified the Lord.

Famously Martin Luther wrote ‘On the Jews and Their Lies.’ (1543) He chose ‘venomous’ and ‘disgusting’ to describe them and went so far as to says their synagogues be burned, their homes destroyed and all Jewish holy books be confiscated.

The Jews were blamed for the Black Death in Europe. Over 200 Jewish communities were destroyed.

Moshe Avraham Ben Baruch wrote: “The writings of the Church Fathers led to the pogroms and killings also in Poland and the Ukraine. They led to the inquisition torture chambers in Spain and Portugal and were the precursors to the hate laws in Italy, England and Russia. They eventually led to the gas chambers in  Auschwitz.” (The Teacher and the Preacher, Moshe Avraham Ben Baruch, Shorashin)

There was a Repentance Conference hosted by the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary in Jerusalem, 2001.  Then Moshe Auman, a veteran of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Israel) said, “Jewish people have experienced unmitigated hatred at various points of history. The only thing that can begin a process of healing is unconditional love.”

In the first Christian church of Jesus day, most were Jews. The Apostles were unashamedly Jewish. When they died, a change came. Gentiles who had little or no respect for the Jews came in and that early rich Jewish connection was removed.

There is a loud wake up call for Christians to embrace love and respect in  their connection with Jewish people everywhere.

In the midst of anti-Semitic violence and horror we must determine to bring forth light.

December 2-10 this year Jews once again rejoiced in Hanukkah celebrations. They light a candle each night using the Shamash, the attendant candle.

I like to think of the Shamash as a symbol of the Lord who came to bring light. Through His light the darkness of ant-Semitism is removed. And I believe, this is the only way.

The Lord spoke clearly through the prophet Isaiah: “’Comfort, yes comfort My people,’ says your God. ‘Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and tell her that her sad days are gone. Her sins are pardoned, and I have punished her in full for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40: 1)

When this Word was declared Israel needed good news. They were in captivity under domination by gentiles. When read in the context of abusing Jews today the instruction is clear. This Word is to Zion. In Zion the glory of the Lord will be brilliantly revealed.

In the context of His love for His people, anti-Semitism is an abomination.

I am humbled by the words of Ellie Weisel. 

“Now, when I hear that Christians are getting together in order to defend the people of Israel, of course it brings joy to my heart. And it simply says, look, people have learned from history!” 

Was he right?


May Their Memory Be A Blessing:

Joyce Feinberg, 75, Richard Gottfried 65, Rose Mallinger 97, Jerry Rabinowitz 66, Cecil Rosenthal 54, Bernice Simon 84, Sylvan Simon 86, Daniel Stein 71, Melvin Wax 88, Irving Younger 69.