Pastor Martin Niemoller: “In Germany they came first for the communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
“Building bridges of understanding” with Jewish people begins with heartfelt compassion.
1. On a personal level
a. Do a “heart check” for any hidden prejudices
b. Spend time with Jewish friends, learning their sensitivities, and demonstrating Yeshua’s love
c. If you hear derogatory ethnic jokes or slurs, speak up! [“Would you say that same thing about Jesus? He is Jewish.”]
d. Post a sign in your yard or on your car opposing racism and/or standing with the Jewish people (see ideas below)
e. Write letters to the editor of your local paper; post messages of solidarity on social media; ask local politicians to act against incidents of anti-Semitism
2. With your family
a. Emphasize the special place in God’s plan for the Jewish people, and His enduring love for “the apple of His eye” as taught in the Scriptures (e.g., Genesis 12:1-3; Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Isaiah 43:4; Jeremiah 31:3; Zechariah 2:8)
b. Pray for God’s protection for Jewish people who are suffering persecution and hatred (especially Western Europe), and for the “peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6)
c. Visit a Holocaust museum, watch an age-appropriate video (Diary of Anne Frank, Fiddler on the Roof)
3. With your congregation
a. Ask your church leaders if they would be willing to meet with leaders from your Jewish community for the purpose of increasing understanding and building relationships, and facilitate the introductions
b. Arrange an invitation for a rabbi or Jewish community spokesperson to speak to your congregation on what can be done to assist the Jewish people.
c. Post a sign on church property or take out an ad in the local paper in support of the Jewish people and/or opposing anti-Semitism (e.g., “Anti-Semitism is Anti-Jesus” “We Stand with the Jewish People”)
d. Host a movie night (suggested titles below); invite the community to view and discuss
4. With the Jewish people
a. Express your concerns – and remorse for hateful acts done in history by those identified as Christians. [See LIFE’s Video “Letter to our Jewish friends”]
b. See what public meetings (e.g., seminars, classes) your local Jewish community center or synagogue offers that will further your understanding
c. When an anti-Semitic attack occurs (e.g., a swastika is painted on a building, a synagogue window is smashed, or a Jewish cemetery is desecrated), offer to help with restoration
d. Contribute to the welfare of Holocaust survivors or other Jewish people in need (we can suggest organizations worthy of support)
Brown, Michael. Our Hands Are Stained With Blood. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 1990.
Flannery, Edward H. The Anguish of the Jews. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1965.