Kristina Rightnour recently filed suit against her former employer Tiffany and Company. It all began when Ms. Rightnour explained the crucifixion story to a Jewish coworker at that coworker’s request. So far, so good. And then, in relating the story, Ms. Rightnour disclosed that the Jews killed Jesus. And that’s when a chain reaction of events ensued, ultimately leading to Ms. Rightnour being terminated from her position.
To the best of my knowledge, Jesus is a belief. That’s why the underpinning question in Christianity is: Do you believe in Jesus? Was Ms. Rightnour aware of this? Ms. Rightnour has every right to believe that the Jews killed Jesus, just as she has every right to believe that Christopher Columbus lives in the house next door. What Ms. Rightnour doesn’t realize however is that her statement is meaningless. All of Jesus’ disciples were Jewish as were all who subscribed to Jesus’ teachings. Pretty much anyone who wasn’t a pagan or a follower of some other ancient religion could be suspect. What also escapes Ms. Rightnour’s parroting a long discarded party line, is that she like countless others have never thought to distinguish between direct responsibility and indirect responsibility. If the “Jews” informed on Jesus to the Roman authorities ultimately leading to Jesus’ death, can it be said that they killed Jesus?
Do the majority of Christians in this country believe that the Jews killed Jesus? Do the majority of Christians in this country even give it much thought?
To the best of my knowledge, there are Jews who become hypersensitive whenever the crucifixion story comes up. Why the knee jerk reaction? Is it because of the centuries upon centuries of Jewish blood spilled in Jesus’ name? How many Jews truly know anything about Jesus of the Christian bible? For that matter, how many Christians truly know anything about Jesus of the Christian bible? Perhaps an in-depth study of Jesus, including the crucifixion story is in order for both Jews as well as non-Jews alike. Perhaps both Christians and Jews will then realize that the birth, life, crucifixion of Jesus is solely based on belief.
There are those (including the author of this article) who believe that crucifixion was a form of corporal, not capital punishment. Much like pillories or stocks, being up the cross was meant to humiliate, as passer-byers jeered, ridiculed and taunted the shamed member of society. And should passer-byers hurl rotten tomatoes, rotten eggs or even excrement at the individual, then so much the better. After all, isn’t that what civilized humans are wont to do?
When it comes to accusations of deicide, I believe that we Jews should be ashamed of ourselves. Our going on the defensive is no way to react to anyone who tells us that the Jews killed Jesus. Where is that Yiddishe Kop that we love to lay claim to? Where is the Yiddish Kop that warns us never to answer to a charge of collective guilt? If the Christians want to believe in collective sin with Jesus dying for the sins of his people, all the power to them. That’s their right, that’s their religion. They have every right to believe it. But for a Christian, any Christian, to use collective guilt against Jews? That’s simply not kosher.
Should it ever happen, that a Christian accuses us of having killed Jesus, we would do well to remind that Christian of the countless Jews killed by his or her people during the Crusades as believers in Jesus made their way to Jerusalem, to wrest it from the infidel. Perhaps a deal is in order: We Jews are prepared to stop rehashing the thousands upon thousands of our people who were killed by Christians (historical fact) if Christians are prepared to stop rehashing the death of one individual who some Christians continue to believe was killed by Jews.