The other day I attended the wedding of some very dear friends of mine. The wedding ceremony was very moving as both the bride and groom asked those present to spend a moment in silence to remember those family and friends who would have dearly loved to have been present at the wedding but had sadly passed away, some in very tragic circumstances.
I couldn’t help but recall the following story from Orthodox Jewish History Professor, Yakov Rabkin’s book, A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism.
“On the very day that I was completing the French version of this book, a bride-to-be and her father, both observant Jews, where chatting in a quiet coffee house on the eve of the wedding. Suddenly, an explosion shattered their plans and dreams. In a fraction of a second, a Palestinian suicide bomber had claimed 15 lives. The following day, those who had been preparing to attend their wedding found themselves instead accompanying the bodies of the father and daughter to the cemetery. A passage from the prophet Amos rang out among the crowd that had gathered to honour the deceased: “And in that day – declares my Lord God – I will make the sun set at noon. I will darken the earth on a sunny day, I will turn your festivals into mourning and all your songs into dirges” (Amos 8:9-10) But unlike so many other funeral services for the victims of acts of terror, not a word of hatred or anger against Arabs could be heard. Instead, the spirit of meditation and introspection that mark the days preceding Jewish New Year pervaded the throng of mourners” (2006, p. 224).
I just couldn’t begin to imagine the response of the people at the wedding, many of them my friends, if anyone dared to harm Jessica or Mostyn (the bride and groom) on the eve of their wedding.
Jesus tells us to forgive and love our enemies and to pray and to do good to those who persecute us. Funnily enough the vast majority of Christians who demand that the Bible must be taken literally tend to balk at taking these types of passages literally when it comes to the actions of Palestinians.
This Orthodox Jewish family put many of us Christians to shame. It is Christians who are the custodians of the Gospel of Jesus, a Gospel of reconciliation, yet this Gospel has so often been perverted to justify racism, genocide and murder. Is it possible that Christian Zionists (or anyone else for that matter) can learn from this example?
This Jewish family chose to ponder why such things as these happen, looking first to themselves and their own conduct and the conduct of their country rather than letting loose with the same sort of hatred and racism that many on both sides have given themselves license to indulge in. Somehow for them, the ethical traditions of the Torah have taught them more about reconciliation than the New Testament has managed to teach many Christians.