By Amy Zewe—
Maybe when we remove the Jewishness of the Jews we remember….
Zechariah 8:23 (New Revised Standard Version) says: Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from nations of every language shall take hold of a Jew, grasping his garment and saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
This verse has always intrigued me.
Recently I came across a very interesting podcast. Why was I pursuing podcasts? Because The Jerusalem Connection’s own Shelley Neese has a new podcast series called Bible Fiber. It is released on all podcast listening platforms (and you can always continue to find our resources on our YouTube channel.)
Anyway, I was setting up my Apple Podcast platform to subscribe to Shelley’s Bible Fiber and got some suggestions.
Coincidentally, I was also catching up on my Tablet reading that same morning.
Tablet Magazine, (tabletmag.com) which you can find online, is a great resource for following issues regarding Jewish topics, current affairs regarding the state of Israel, and interesting reflections on history. I find so many insightful articles the topic I usually research—antisemitism and other manifestations of Jew hate—both present and past.
I came across author Dara Horn. A remarkable young woman who has authored several books and articles. She started a pod cast called Adventures with Dead Jews—a podcast born out of her latest book, People Love Dead Jews.
What an awful title you might be thinking! Or, you might be thinking this seems like an antisemitic title!
But this podcast was premised in its first episode explaining the origin of the title and the formulation of the approach– Oy vey! You say?
I have my Bible Fiber podcast subscription loaded to my library—I have this both on my phone and my laptop. Anyway, Adventures with Dead Jews by Dara Horn is also loaded. Only a few weeks into this series, the storytelling is compelling. As a native New Yorker myself, listening to Dara each week is a bit nostalgic for me. These stories are largely unknown, revoting, and insightful as we see how Jews are an integral part of world history—even though they are less than 2 % of the West’s population…some estimates have them as less than .05% of the global population.
So why would I direct you to this podcast? I encourage you to listen to the first episode if you can. Or order the book. You see, Dara’s perspective here is the manifestation of a conversation she had with an elderly holocaust survivor—which she basically dismissed over 20 years ago—when she was a teenager writing for a Jewish teen magazine and covering the opening of the DC Holocaust Museum. Her visit resulted in an article she published focusing on the youth-centric exhibition in the museum of a fictitious, composite Jewish boy named Daniel in Germany, whose life was stripped from him in systematic steps. The goal to be showing the pubic that Daniel was just a normal everyday boy—same as the rest of the boys in Germany. Toys and soccer balls, cleats and a few books lying around his middle-class bedroom was the initial scene and then it progresses to his arrival at a death camp. Daniel was just another regular boy- no different than any other boy. Therefore, we need to identify with him. And that we should morn his loss because he is just like the rest of us. Soon after Dara’s article was published, at a social gathering the holocaust survivor –again, quite elderly–accosted this young teen writer and told her the perspective of the article was wrong, the exhibition was wrong. Jews were different. They were Jewish! Why must we wash away the Jewishness to get a reaction. Why wasn’t Daniel’s Jewishness evident in his room? Why must we say Daniel was just like the rest of us when in fact, the Jews were (are) not just like everyone else?
Ms. Horn retells the scolding she got, and ignored, some 20 years ago—but whose point was well taken only some years later. This prompted Dara to start examining the lives of Jews in history and the intersection of them and all of history—and to identify the Jewishness of their characters.
Now Ms. Horn, clearly a proud Jewish woman, may not have any insight into Christian Zionists—I don’t know her personally. I don’t know if she knows how valuable her podcasts are to us Christian Zionists! But maybe she’d be happy to see her work appreciated and valued—and that her point is well taken.
And what I see here is her valuable perspective and access to history that is not only insightful to Jews, but to all of us. And the more we see the humanity in Jews—then and now—the more we can also appreciate their Jewishness; and the more we identify their Jewishness, we can see their humanity. And for us, the manifestation of what “chosen” means when God calls the Jews his Chosen. She also reveals how the notion of dead Jews can be manipulated into any agenda is not acceptable.
We must, as we study history, the holocaust, the conspiracies and the sacrifice and slaughter of Jews persecuted and the track records of those successful—throughout history—that it is in their Jewishness that we can find learning. And, perhaps, with it, we can better celebrate and support the Jews of today—including the Jewish State of Israel.
Through Dara’s historical and sometimes hysterical storytelling of true events, we can see a tapestry of ordinary but extraordinary people. Citizens of every nation, but Jews in essence. So they are the same, but different—and to me, this brings to me a wink from our Lord that in the most seemingly inane and insane obscure but history-altering events, His hand and plan are at work even, when it appears the enemy is winning.
I see this as part of the character of our personal God: Divine providence woven into the history of a fallen humanity, through a chosen people—set apart but accessible people—revealing to us a wink from the Lord and delivered by an intellectual Jewish woman with a wry sense of humor as these stories are uncovered and relayed by Dara.
Zechariah 8:23 (New Revised Standard Version):
Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from nations of every language shall take hold of a Jew, grasping his garment and saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
We can’t love a people we want to change or view through our own preconceived lens. We can a love a people we know, which means we must be active to get to know them. Dara’s book and podcast is a resource to get to know Jews in all their glorious variety and shared essence. And to learn about the origins of stereotypes so we can see an insight to a culture and community that is part of our own history and our future.
Shavua Tov—have a great week.