Blog  Middle Eastern Neighbors: Jews, Christians and Muslims

Middle Eastern Neighbors: Jews, Christians and Muslims

Jordana Mazer, a Fall 2016 student, is a sophomore from New City, New York. She is a member of Temple Beth Torah, a participant of NFTY-GER and has been a camper at Eisner. Jordana was also a madricha in Sunday school for five years.

“Love your neighbor as yourself. I am God” (Lev. 19:18). These are the words of God that tell us to love our neighbor as we would love ourself, but who counts as our neighbor?

In the photo above, you can see three important religious sites. One is the The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the most important sites in Christianity. It is believed by Christians that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is where Jesus rose from the dead. Christians from around the world come to Jerusalem to visit this holy church. The next sight is the Dome of the Rock, the oldest existing Islamic monument, where it is believed that the prophet Muhammad rose to heaven. The Dome of the Rock is an extremely important site to Muslims. The last sight in the photo is the Kotel, the last remnant of the second Beit Hamikdash in Jerusalem. The Kotel is one of the holiest sites in Judaism. In this photo, it is evident that each religion is a neighbor to each other: Christians, Muslims, and Jews. We are neighbors, not just in Jerusalem, but in the Middle East, and all over the world. If we are neighbors, and it is taught in all three religions to love one another, then why is there violence between Jews, Muslims, and Christians? We are neighboring religions, as seen in the photo, neighboring countries, and just regular neighbors in modern day society. All neighbors of every religion should respect each other and end any violence, including war.

“Love your neighbor as yourself. I am God” (Lev. 19:18) is the most repeated commandment in the torah, as it is repeated 250 times. Following this value teaches us to stay as a community, and together, we can affirm our belief in God, humanity, and all life. To be a community (kehillah), we must stick together and be there for each other. If we are all in a kehillah together, we are neighbors, and it is a mitzvah to love each other and as we love ourselves. On URJ Heller High, we are one kehillah, and we must all be there for each other as Jews, friends, and just people. However, we must also be there for all neighboring communities as well, which can include non-Jewish communities, which we can do through tzedakah projects. Do not isolate yourself from your community, or other communities, no matter how strong the urge is. Be there for your neighbors, your kehillah, and anyone else who crosses paths with you.

There are three major religions depicted in the photo: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each of these religions has a holy book, the torah (Judaism), The Christian Bible(Christianity), and the Quran (Islam). Each of these books expresses the value to love your neighbor as you would love yourself. From a Jewish point of view, the value to love your neighbor as yourself, found in the torah, is an obligation. Instead of taking revenge on someone, make a friend instead, and by not taking revenge on the person, God can become the third friend. On the contrary, a Christian point of view could be to follow Jesus’ teachings: to love others as he has loved them, and that each person has something to offer, whether it’s money, talent, or time. From a Muslim’s perspective, a man’s love is beyond mankind because it is in God, and God deserves love. If you love yourself, that love leads directly to God.

Each religion teaches to love your neighbor as yourself, so if Muslims, Jews, and Christians are neighbors, why is there still hate and violence between the religions? Whether you’re following the words of Adonai, Allah, or Jesus, love your neighbor, treat everyone with respect, and stop the hate.

Sources:

  1. http://www.aish.com/sp/f/48971341.html
  2. http://www.christianbiblereference.org/jneighbr.htm
  3. http://www.oasiscenter.eu/articles/interreligious-dialogue/2007/12/02/love-thy-neighbour-in-islam

-Jordana Mazer, Fall 2016