Keyword:

Light from the Sidra

Lech Lecha ('Go you forth')

Torah: Genesis 12:1-17:27. Haftarah: Isaiah 40:27-41:16

I love the Jewish people

Last July, I spent a week preaching on the streets of Budapest. Around 80,000 Jews live in Hungary and most of them keep quiet about their Jewish identity because of the spirit of anti-Semitism that pervades the country from the parliament down.

I wanted to assure the Jewish people that they were not hated by everyone and I wanted to challenge the attitudes of the anti-Semites. Each day I set up an easel and spray painted a big red heart to which I added, in Hungarian, ‘I ยค the Jewish people!’ It grabbed the attention of passers-by and they listened as I set out four reasons why everyone should love the Jewish people.

The basic reason I gave is found in the first three verses on Genesis 12:

 

YHWH said to Abram: Go-you-forth from your land, from your kindred, from your father's house, to the land that I will let you see. I will make a great nation of you and will give-you-blessing and will make your name great. Be a blessing! I will bless those who bless you, he who curses you I will damn. All the clans of the soil will find blessing through you! (The Five books of Moses: A New translation with Introductions, and Commentary, and Notes. Everett Fox)

God promised Abram that ‘all the clans of the soil,’ or ‘all the families of the world’ would one day be blessed through him. That divine promise has come to pass in numerous ways. John Adams, the second President of the United States said, ‘The Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations.’

Try to imagine a world in which Moses and Albert Einstein had never lived; a world in which there was no Mickey Mouse or Inspector Clouseau; a world in which there was no vaccine for polio; a world where there were no Marx Brothers films and no Superman.

Moses, Albert Einstein, Peter Sellers, Dr Jonas Salk and the Marx Brothers were all Jewish. Mickey Mouse was created by Walt Disney who was Jewish, and Superman was the creation of two Jews, Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel. The Jewish people have enriched the world in every possible way on so many levels.

The most outstanding classical musicians today seem to be either Chinese or Jewish โ€“ and there are thousands of millions more Chinese people than Jews! Popular music has been dominated by Jewish singers and songwriters. From the easy-listening ballads of Burt Bacharach and Hal David to the morose introspection of Leonard Cohen; from the bubblegum pop of Neil Sedaka to the history-changing lyrics of Bob Dylan; from the shmaltz of Barry Manilow to the lyrical sophistication of Paul Simon; from Phil Spector’s ‘wall of sound’ to the exquisite guitar riffs of Mark Knoffler; from the upbeat pop of Billy Joel to the Tijuana sounds of Herb Alpert; from the blues of Peter Green to the crooning of Tony Bennett, Jews have been at the cutting edge of popular music. Although none of the world’s greatest pop group was Jewish, the Beatles were discovered and managed by Brian Epstein and then Alan Klein, and Paul McCartney married Linda Eastman.

Jewish authors feature prominently in the world of literature. From the literary heights of Marcel Proust to the dark satire of Joseph Heller; from the Holocaust literature of Elie Wiesel and Ann Frank to the humour of Mordechai Richler and Philip Roth; from the incredible imagination of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis to Chaim Potok’s world of the Hasidim, Jewish literature is amazingly varied.

Anti-Israel organizations like the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which advocates the boycotting of Israeli goods, divestment and sanctions, are becoming more aggressive. The annual Israeli Apartheid Week is held in over 50 cities around the world, with most events taking place on university campuses. The PSC, however, seems to be more concerned about bringing down Israel than helping the Palestinians. Shopping centres are also a target and PSC leaflets feature graphic images of bleeding Jaffa Oranges, Israel spelled as ‘Israhell’ and pictures of Palestinian children covered in blood alongside the slogan, ‘Shopping can kill.’

There are people who want to boycott Israeli goods and anything that originates with Jews. I wouldn’t mind so much if those enemies of Israel were consistent but it’s very difficult to consistently avoid everything Jewish because almost everything important in life today was either invented or developed by Israelis or Jews.

The world would be poorer without the Jewish contribution to music, film, television and stage. ‘Yes,’ I hear the boycotters say, ‘but apart from great classical music, jazz, pop music, drama, comedy, and Hollywood blockbusters, what else have the Jews ever done for us?’

Well, if you suffer with a bad heart, be thankful for the discovery of Digitalis by Adolph von Beyer who synthesized the drug in 1864. If you have to visit the dentist and he uses a cocaine-based anaesthetic you have Jewish ophthalmologist Karl Koller to thank. Do you have diabetes and do you take Insulin? Insulin was discovered by Oscar Minkowsky, a Jew. If your kids have never suffered from diphtheria, be grateful for that to Selman Waksman.

Boycotters of Israeli and Jewish products, if they want to be consistent, should avoid all Jewish music, movies, plays, discoveries, inventions and wonder drugs. And they should ditch their PCs, laptops an mobile phones on which send out their toxic anti-Israel messages because the Pentium chip and other inventions that link them to your friends and fellow boycotters were invented by Jews. And if they go to church, they should convert to Israel or some other religion, because the God of Christianity is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Saviour they worship is the Jewish Messiah, Jesus.

Boycotters can divest and sanction all they want but let them do without the aid of laptops and mobile phones, and without the benefit of life saving medication. And when they want to relax, they shouldn’t watch a colour TV or go to movies produced by MGM, Warner Brothers, or Twentieth Century Fox. And they shouldn’t turn to Jesus as their only hope of forgiveness and salvation because he’s Jewish too! If all BDSers do that, I wish them the best of luck for their short, boring, spiritually hopeless and barren lives. They’re going to need it.

Israel is the only people to come into existence for the benefit of the other nations. God called Abraham and his children after him to be a blessing to the rest of the nations. I love the Jewish people because I’ve been blessed by them. Through the law given to Moses, I’ve learned how God wants me to live; through the Hebrew prophets I’ve learned about the Messiah and the New Covenant; through the writings of a Jew โ€“ Saul of Tarsus โ€“ I have been brought into a right relationship with God through a Jew, Jesus of Nazareth. How can I not love the Jewish people?


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