Jan 22, 2023

In Good Faith: No Room for Hate

In my latest In Good Faith column, I write about the need for Christians to take a stand against anti-semitism, in light of a recent local incident.

No Room for Hate

There’s a famous photograph taken in Kiel, Germany, in 1932, from the inside of a rabbi’s home

that stood directly across the street from the Nazi party headquarters. It shows a menorah in the window facing a large Nazi flag. On the back of the original photograph, which was taken on the eighth night of Hanukkah, is a handwritten note that declares, “Our light will outlast their flag.”

I’ve always been mesmerized by both the image and the accompanying words. They serve as reminders that God is larger than the sinful machinations of humanity and that hope shines even amidst the deepest darkness and despair.

In the Christian tradition, we look to the poetic prologue to John’s gospel to discover that sense of hope. In words teeming with the language of incarnation, we hear that “A light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” For Christians, this is the Light of Christ; of God entering the world in human form. 

But beyond the specificity of this light is a universal yearning for hope, equality, and justice that transcends the lines of belief. Which is why the menorah in the window offers us all hope in the face of despair. A reminder that light does indeed shine even on the darkest of nights. 

Last Saturday night, antisemitic images and messages were projected onto an AT&T building in West Palm Beach. This isn’t something that only impacts the Jewish community. It is an affront to all that is good and holy and sacred to people of every faith tradition. As Rabbi Moshe Scheiner of Palm Beach Synagogue put it, “We cannot remain silent.” 

And so I write in solidarity with our Jewish friends to publicly condemn antisemitism in general and the recent messages of hate in particular. There is no place for anti-Semitism in Christian faith and practice, and no place for such hatred in our society. When some among us are threatened, we are all threatened; when some among us are hurting, we are all hurting; when some among us are attacked, we are all attacked. The rise in antisemitic rhetoric from celebrities or politicians cannot be tolerated or left unchecked. Nor can situations where violence is perpetrated upon Jews. 

The fact is, according to the Anti-Defamation League, the past two years have seen the highest incident rate ever for documented reports of harassment, vandalism, and violence directed against Jews. Christians cannot remain silent.

I hope you will join me in praying for the restoration of tolerance, for an end to bigotry in our midst, and for greater understanding and harmony in our community. 

This past December the original menorah from the photograph was lit in Berlin, 90 years after the rabbi and his family fled Germany. The light did indeed outlast their flag. And it is incumbent upon all of us, to be bearers of this light in the world.

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