BIRMINGHAM, AL — There’s been widespread publicity in Birmingham and beyond about evangelical Christian leaders rallying to help our Jewish community enhance security at our local Jewish institutions. More than $100,000 has been raised by high profile Christians and their efforts are continuing.

As Executive Director of the Birmingham Jewish Federation, which was involved in developing this initiative, I have found this entire saga quite moving.

In addition to their passionate support for Israel, the Christian leaders I’ve known are deeply concerned about anti-Semitism and regret that their leaders, churches and organizations did not do more to save Jews during the Holocaust.

And not a single one of these high profile Christians has ever tried to convert me. In fact, if anything, they have shown a deep respect for me as a Jew and for Judaism in general.

I’m writing this on a Saturday night knowing that Passover starts this coming Monday night. On Monday afternoon, a few hours before the holiday begins, a delegation of these Christian leaders will be coming to our Jewish Community Center to present our JCC with a check for more than $100,000 to help enhance security.

It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that they are coming as Passover begins and the week leading up to Easter gets underway as well, and that they are coming for no other reason than to express their friendship and to help ensure the well-being of our Jewish community.

A leader of the group was quoted in a great story on their efforts posted by Al.Com, one of Alabama’s major news sites.

“Our goal was to raise $100,000 and it exceeded that,” said Scott Dawson, founder of Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association, which helped lead the fundraising effort.

He then was further quoted as saying something that really moved me: “So many times Christians are known for what we stand against. This is a great time to show what we stand for. That’s for religious liberties. We’re not intimidated by anyone living out their faith. We want to be good neighbors.”

Here in Alabama, these wonderful and caring people are good neighbors — and great friends. This will be evident once again on Monday afternoon when they arrive at our JCC  just a few hours before the first Seder begins.

With Passover and Easter in the air, Christian and Jewish clergy will each say a few words during our Monday afternoon meeting, others will speak briefly as well, and a much-appreciated check will be presented that will immediately be put to good use.

And the anti-Semites who delight in terrifying and isolating Jews, will suffer one more setback as this group of Birmingham citizens stands united, bound by friendship, arm in arm in mutual respect, experiencing the holiness that comes when people of good will reach out to one another.

Happy Passover, Happy Easter and thank you to our Christian friends!