Christians and Jews — Natural Friends

The Fellowship  |  April 22, 2019

Christians and Jews — Natural Friends

This year the Jewish people began their celebration of Passover on the same day that Christians observed the crucifixion on Good Friday. Writing at Fox News, Fellowship President Yael Eckstein looks at this alignment of the two faiths’ holidays and finds gratitude for the natural friends among the Jewish people’s steadfast and faithful Christians:

As a Jewish woman living in Israel, I have to admit that I wasn’t surprised to see absurd, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories immediately emerge on social media blaming France’s Jews for the inferno that nearly destroyed the historic Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday.

This is the challenge of being Jewish in a world that has too often hated Jews. Anti-Semitism is the world’s most ancient form of hatred, from Pharaoh’s army to the armed anti-Semite who attacked the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October and killed 11 Jews gathered in prayer.

The truth is that I felt a bit of my own soul burning when I watched fire consume the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral. This awful feeling came not simply from the cultural loss of France’s iconic 12th century cathedral, but from the growing friendship I have with Christians around the world.

Jews and Christians ought to be considered natural friends, yet for centuries of Jewish and Christian history, it would have been totally unimaginable that such friendship would be as common as it is today.

My late father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, was disinvited from his own synagogue when he began to extend an olive branch to Christians 40 years ago after he left the Anti-Defamation League to form the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

Many Jews didn’t trust Christians for a reason. Christians were often oblivious to the fact that Jews around the world heard anti-Semitic undertones in the way Christians referred to the Pharisees and Sadducees and other Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time.

Many Jews thought Christians had forgotten that Jesus was himself a Jew and that their Old Testament is actually the Hebrew Bible.

Fortunately, those days are increasingly behind us…