Have you checked on your Jewish neighbour?

Guide to checking on your Jewish neighbours in the midst of the Israel-Hamas War

Hamas’ brazen and heinous infiltration of Israel and murder of more than 1,4001 Israelis – most of them unarmed civilians – on 7th October 2023, shocked the world. Some rejoiced2.  Most have lamented.  The shock and pain are perhaps most keenly felt by our Jewish neighbours. 

That strip of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is the historic and biblical homeland of the 12 tribes of Jacob.  What the world cannot agree on is whether they should reside there in the 21st century.

Here’s the thing, neither can the Jewish people.  Their opinions about the modern state of Israel are as varied as any other group of people.

Nevertheless, Hamas’ murderous attack on those living in Israel proper – not settlements in contested areas – has our Jewish neighbours asking what’s next.  They are wondering who they can trust.  They might be wondering who outside the Jewish community cares about them.

A Jewish woman recently tweeted, “This week I've learned which friends would hide me during the next Holocaust; which friends would not; and which friends would help hand me over. I've got ‘friends’ in all three categories.”3

A CMJ supporter shared a story of a rabbi in Florida who is involved in interfaith dialogue and has many Christian acquaintances.  When the CMJ supporter called the rabbi, the rabbi said, I know so many Christians from the interfaith work, but none except you have called since the attack on Israel.

We need to be that Christian who checks on our Jewish neighbours. 

Of course, we can also be reaching out along similar lines to our Muslim and Arab neighbours who may also be affected by the tensions of this war.

But, this is not the time to have a single agenda about evangelism but it is all about standing with / supporting our Jewish neighbours.  They may ask questions about our actions in standing with them and then there may be an opportunity to share about ours and their Messiah.

1 Ebrahim, Abbas Al Lawati, Eoin McSweeney, Nadeen. “Israel Is at War with Hamas. Here’s What to Know.” CNN, 16 October 2023. https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/16/middleeast/israel-hamas-gaza-war-explained-week-2-mime-intl/index.html.

2 “Iran Lauds Hamas Attack Even as It Denies Involvement.” France 24, 9 October 2023. https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20231009-iran-lauds-hamas-attack-even-as-it-denies-involvement.

3 @DrMonica Osborne, “To quote a friend on Facebook, this week I've learned which friends…” 15 October 2023. 


Guide to checking on your Jewish neighbours in the midst of the Israel-Hamas War

1. Pray.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to care for your Jewish neighbour in this time.

2. Start by reaching out.  Call or text your Jewish friend.  Send an email.  Don’t yet know the rabbi down the street?  Send a greeting card with your business card saying you’d like to invite them to tea or coffee to hear their thoughts on what’s happening in Israel.

3. Ask open-ended questions.  Example: “How are you doing?”  Don’t assume you know how your Jewish friend feels about the war.

4. Actively listen.  Just listen.  Pay attention, stay focused, be patient, empathise, withhold judgment, respond appropriately.4

5. Be ready to be vulnerable.  If your Jewish neighbour accepts your invite, be prepared for some questions and to answer honestly.  They may ask you what you think about the war.  They may ask why you decided to reach out.

Do not be ashamed that you are a Christian.  This encounter is not meant to be evangelistic, but neither should you shy away from saying how Jesus’ Jewishness requires the Christian to love our Jewish neighbours, whether they accept Jesus as Messiah or not.  This may be new for your Jewish friend, as they will be well versed in the antisemitic history of the church.

6. Don’t be discouraged if your Jewish neighbours aren’t ready to accept your invitation.  There is a lot of history in the way.  Keep praying and keep trying gently.

7. Get informed.  You can get a peek into how our Jewish neighbours see the world through the Jewish media.  You will also learn about antisemitic incidents that worry the Jewish community but do not make it into mainstream news.

Where to start: The Forward (https://forward.com/).  The Jewish Chronicle (https://www.thejc.com/).  The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (https://www.jta.org/). The Times of Israel (https://www.timesofisrael.com/).

4 Joy, Sara. “Active Listening Exercises: What to Do and Not to Do.” Tacoma Christian Counselling, 6 April 2022. https://tacomachristiancounseling.com/articles/active-listening-exercises-what-to-do-and-not-to-do.

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