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Faithful Compassion Over Gut Reaction

From anti-Semitism to Boko Haram: How faith, not emotions, sustains our attention to tragedy.
Faithful Compassion Over Gut Reaction
Image: flashpro / Flickr

In the last few weeks, I’ve read reports of swastikas spray-painted inside the walls of a Jewish frat house at Vanderbilt University and residents of a Madison, Wisconsin neighborhood housing many Jewish residents awakening one Saturday morning to find racist and anti-Semitic graffiti plastered across their properties. Are these reports of hate-speech the acts of alcohol-fueled vandals? Or are they harbingers of something more ominous?

In light of a well-documented rising tide of violent anti-Semitism in Europe, it’s impossible for me to see incidents like these as weekend partying gone horribly wrong. Each new report injects into my Jewish heritage and my comfortable American existence an anxiety familiar to my immigrant grandparents and great-grandparents. With the proverbial writing on the wall, what does it mean for my people?

Based on recent conversations over these issues, I’ve come to realize that some Christians see the persecution of believers and the rise in anti-Semitism as two completely different, unrelated issues. As a Jewish follower of the Jewish Messiah, both break my heart and make me shudder when I see them in the headlines—especially because I know more similar news of hatred is bound to turn up.

Remember the horror you felt when you heard about more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls being abducted by Boko Haram last April? The terrifying places your imagination took you a few weeks ago when you saw the images of those 21 Coptic ...

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