This is a tale of two temples. I suppose I should say “places of worship”, for only one is a temple, or a synagogue to be precise. The other is an Episcopalian church. Both are on the same otherwise residential road in a peaceful, wooded neighborhood. I walk down this road several times weekly and I have noticed a few things. Namely, what a difference a faith makes. Walk with me…
The first place of worship we’ll pass has a ten foot fence around the entire property. There are “no trespassing” signs, “private property” signs, a sign that promises a fast response from the local police, and then a sign asking for donations. There are high gates across the drive and an armed guard checking cars on their chosen day of worship. The majority of the property is paved over and the landscaping is sparse.
The second place of worship we’ll pass does not have a fence. In fact, there is a sign welcoming visitors to walk through their wooded lot along a short trail dotted with religious sculpture. There is a community garden in the front; the food is donated to the local food bank but anyone is welcome to work the garden and take a vegetable or two. The only signs are welcome signs and special event notices – all are invited. There are no guards but there are a lot of flowers, trees, and places to sit.
Let’s look around the neighborhood for the setting. Upper middle class, no sign of crime, walkers and joggers here and there, no noise, no traffic, nice landscaping; all in all a very peaceful place with well-trimmed sidewalks. There is nothing on crime mapper or related sites. Nothing happens here. Back to our places of worship. Why the stark difference? Have you guessed which is the synagogue and which the church? If you think the first is the synagogue, you are correct! Is that why it is a veritable fortress?
Ah, the old stand-by. Anti-Semitism. Is that it? What a poor excuse for the blight on this neighborhood that the synagogue has become. What a poor example of public relations. What a poor example of faith. Still, one might argue that they must protect themselves due to a past filled with persecution. I wager that there is more to it than a shady past and if I may be so bold, it is highly likely that this standard “defense in case of offense” approach may actually create that which it claims to protect itself against. To be plain, the Jew may have put his car before his horse.
This is but one tiny example of the (perhaps) accidental creation of anti-Semitism where the stated goal was to prevent it. How many times has this happened in the Jewish past? I have read the Old Testament and large portions of the Talmud, not to mention stacks of modern history, and I can promise you NO innocence on the part of various Jewish communities. Should they not bear some of the blame? Look at Israel today. If the globe were a schoolyard, Israel would be the six-pointed bully. Point this out and down comes yet another of the six million victim cards. Roughly eighty years of this tiring game of cards and the stack is getting smaller. Soon, the six-pointed excuses will run out.