SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A sign on Abercorn says “Happy Easter.” Nothing so unusual about that EXCEPT that it belongs to the JEA - the Jewish Educational Alliance.
The message speaks to something uncommon in America, and the world for that matter these days: the respect and goodwill of people who may not agree on everything.
Similarly, at the Good Friday Service at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, there was a special prayer set aside for Jewish people - a prayer in which all in attendance joined.
It’s always dangerous to give credit, but from the Christian side, I must acknowledge the efforts of Pope John Paul decades ago when he began public overtures to the Jewish community, an effort that sprouted from his boyhood in Poland when his name was Karol Woltyja and his best friend was Jerzy Kluger. As Pope, John Paul brought a message that still resonates when he said “As Christians and Jews, following the example of the faith of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing to the world. This is the common task awaiting us. It is therefore necessary for us, Christians and Jews, to be first a blessing to one another.”
On Easter Sunday, we witnessed the absolute worse in religious intolerance when a string of church bombings in Sri Lanka claimed the lives of more than 300 people. That was the latest in a horrific string of deadly attacks at places of worship, ranging from churches to mosques to synagogues and everything else in between.
Consider this. The celebrations of Passover and Easter are both intended to inspire people to goodness and brotherhood. Our community is way ahead of the game, historically, as we are famously open minded toward those who are different in any respect. The next step is to bring that respect and civility to our religious and political conversations which have become venomous, especially on social media.
Thoughtful consideration of our words should be a practice for people of any faith, or those of no faith at all.