When the persecution of the Christians ended, the persecution of the Jews began – because the followers of the new religion saw the Jews as not accepting their Messiah.
In the 7th century Islam was born and the Muslims too believed themselves to be the followers of the only true religion making both Judaism and Christianity redundant. Throughout the centuries both Jews and Christians were dhimmi or non-citizens in Muslim-ruled lands. This is the main reason that the Muslims don’t accept Israel – it is a non-Muslim state on land which was once the Caliphate of Mohammed.
This argument continues to this day with ISIS or Islamic State as well as other groups such as al Qaeda claiming that only they follow the true religion. Many Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant, believe that redemption can only come to followers of Jesus Christ. Among Jews some, such as the ultra-orthodox, also believe that only they follow the true Jewish faith.
I’m a proud, but not a very observant Jew. I prefer the tradition to the rigid practice laid down. I don’t wear a kippa or pray three times a day and I rarely find myself inside a synagogue. This however does not mean that I don’t believe that there is a God. But He is not my God, He is the God of everyone; Jews, Christians, Muslims and the followers of all religions as well as the followers of no religion. I don’t believe He judges us on whether we pray to Him three times a day, five times a day or never. If He truly exists He does not need our supplications, as He is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscience. I believe that if one is a mensch – a person of integrity and honour – that is all that is needed. Rabbi Hillel, the famous Talmudic scholar, told his followers to, 'Love Your Neighbour as Yourself.'
So while I have lived in a majority Christian country, South Africa, and in The Land of Israel where the majority is Jewish, I don’t hold with the superiority of any one religion over another.
My story Reminiscences of Christmas begins…
I lived my formative years in South Africa, but being Jewish, Christmas only hovered in the background. I knew the basic story of the festival and the traditions which its observance entailed. Christmas was a public holiday, businesses were closed and I didn’t go to school. The festival was very important to both the religiously conservative whites, as well as for blacks, most of whom followed the Christian faith…
This is one of the twenty-four stories and essays which appear in my eclectic anthology Just for Fun, available as an e-book for only $3.99 from your favourite e-book retailer and in print for only $7.99 from CreateSpace.