When I was very young, I experienced bigotry and attacks because my mother was Jewish.
I vividly remember making my way home from school and complaining to my mother because some of the older boys had called me a “kite.” (At least, that’s what I thought they were saying.) I said, “I don’t even have a kite. Why do they call me that?” I was too young to understand the racial slur, but I knew something was wrong. I saw people throw things at my mother or call her names when she went to the store.
Looking back now, I understand why when I was just four years old, she told me, “Christians hate Jews. Christians kill Jews.” Her grandfather perished inside his synagogue in what is now Belarus. The Jews of the town were herded inside, the doors were nailed shut, and the building was set on fire. The people outside celebrated as the screams of the dying filled the air.
Many years later, Israel’s 9th president and my dear friend Shimon Peres talked to me about that event. His family was from the same little village as my mother’s family. He had researched the tragedy there and discovered that his grandfather perished in the same fire as my great-grandfather. They were rabbis together, and they died together. He told me that day, “Mike, we are family.” It was an amazing connection, but one born in great sadness and pain.
The bitter reality is that most Jewish people have never seen an act of kindness or love from a Believer. They really do think that Christians hate them. Because so much persecution and death have been carried out by those who claim to be following Jesus, they think that Christianity is opposed to them.
I grew up experiencing a divide between Christians and Jewish people. I heard the slurs and name-calling and saw the prejudice in action. I heard from my mother the stories of her family members who perished in the Holocaust. God has given us the privilege of sharing a different story, the reality that true Christians MUST love and care for His Chosen People.