Farfetched, it isn’t. In fact, it’s quite tempting. The more I think about it, the more I am drawn to construct a course entitled Judaism is Dangerous. As such, I am indebted to Reverend Shelton Gibbs, III; Pulpit minister of Greenville Church of Christ in nearby Richardson, who recently advertised an upcoming course on “Dangerous Isms,” where Judaism appeared alongside Islamism (sic).
Judaism, no different than “Christine,” lehavdil* (the name bestowed upon an indestructible 1958 Plymouth that “starred” in a Stephen King movie of the same name) is indestructible. Judaism is impervious to outside forces. Try as they might, outside forces while successful in destroying Jews, have shown themselves to be powerless when it comes to destroying Judaism. Pope Urban II, the force behind the first Crusade, was a farce when it came to Judaism. Yes, Jewish casualties were in the thousands and yes, although we have no statistics, there were Jews who chose acceptance of Jesus over acceptance of being murdered, but Judaism did not miss a beat. If anything, Judaism grew stronger as survivors looked to HaShem for answers, while the unscathed offered gratitude to HaShem for having come through man’s inhumanity to man, unscathed.
Judaism is resistant to prediction. Whether it is Pew reports or concerned committees at local synagogues, Judaism has shown time and time again that it is oblivious to discussion. Discussions and contingencies have at times proven successful in saving Jews, but totally irrelevant as far as saving Judaism. Instead of conducting studies, better one should study Talmud or this week’s Torah portion. Discussions are the mainstay of Judaism, particularly when the discussion is centered upon what meaning a particular prayer holds for a particular individual. Precious few individuals refrain from reacting to stimuli. Judaism however is far more precious. Never consign Judaism to the foibles of people. Ever!
As a rabbi, I feel it safe to say that more than a few of us are disturbed, to say the least, when we learn of a Jew forsaking Judaism and embracing Christianity. Are we Jews so myopic that we fail to understand that it’s quite possible and even probable that there are Christians and Christian leaders who are equally disturbed when they learn of a Christian embracing Judaism? Do we Jews possess a monopoly when it comes to feeling a sense of abandonment and perhaps even go so far as to blame ourselves by resorting to the “where did I go wrong” when people forsake our religion? Don’t Christians have every right to ask that same very question? While Christians converting to Judaism, particularly for the sake of marriage, is an American phenomenon, wouldn’t it be fair to say that here in the “Bible Belt,” there is far greater likelihood of Christians seeking out and embracing Judaism for the purest of reasons, in that they feel that Judaism offers them more than Christianity offers them or can offer them? Furthermore, wouldn’t it be also fair to say that such conversions are occurring on a much more frequent basis than ever before? If it was okay for our ancestors to pronounce a “curse on Columbus” and behave in less than respectful manner when passing a church, how proper is it for us to immediately become judgmental before we even know what was meant by the “catchy” titles for the course offerings being offered by Greenville Church of Christ?
Judaism is dangerous, very dangerous. When Jews are threatened or harmed by outside forces, there is an excellent chance that Judaism will grow stronger. Wring your hands if you must, as far as the future of Judaism. Remember, however, that hand-wringers come into this world and take leave of this world, while Judaism perseveres, whether times are good or bad, happy or sad. And if it’s kosher for Jews to look upon Christianity as being dangerous when it is embraced with no ulterior motives by a family member or friend, shouldn’t it be equally kosher for Christians to feel exactly the same way about Judaism, when it is embraced by no ulterior motives by a family member or friend? Judaism – a unique, wonderful and sometimes, even dangerous, religion.
*A comparison that one ought not to make.