(Oct. 14)  Last weekend [Oct. 13] I was struck by a stark juxtaposition between the Old Testament reading in Sunday’s Episcopalian lectionary and sad news of yet another series of anti-Semitic attacks in the United States and abroad.

As I explore this juxtaposition, please forgive some over-generalized philosophical musings. What strikes me, though, is this: Even aside from the fact of the general sinfulness of faith- or race-based bigotry and hatred, it is particularly bizarre that Jews, of all people, have for more than two millennia been the object of such resentments, attacks, pogroms, and holocaust.

First, the sad news: In Germany, an anti-Semitic rampage on Yom Kippur killed two people. In Framingham, Massachusetts, charter school students were pushing viciously anti-Semitic social media posts. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, in Australia, and in Israel itself, in New Jersey, in England, and in the Bronx, among other places and incidents, reports came in the past few days of actions aimed against Jews specifically because they are Jews. Throughout the world, anti-Semitism is on the rise.

For this sort of thing to happen against any group is inexcusable, of course. The truth, though, is that if there is any one collective people whose very culture promotes good citizenship and intentional contributions to the civic weal wherever its members sojourn or settle, it is Jewish people who are the models. In fact, philanthropy and constructive citizenship is an ineradicable part of the mandate from their prophets.

That’s where Sunday’s church reading comes in. In it, the prophet Jeremiah sends a letter to Jewish exiles abroad, urging them to try to make the best of the polity wherever they find themselves. “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile,” the prophet wrote, “and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”…

[The rest of the column is here.]


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