Stuart Schwartz
Stuart Schwartz

Matzoh and Balls in America: Evangelical Christians and Observant Jews

The teaching pastor of the more than 20,000-strong Thomas Road megachurch in Lynchburg, Virginia was emphatic: “If you turn your back on Israel, then God will turn his back on you!” And the crowded sanctuary stirred, murmuring approval. Yes, Israel, that beacon of democracy and cultural sanity in the Middle East: We evangelical Christians support you.

Meanwhile, across town, a reformed synagogue makes its sentiments known with a prominently displayed black sign in front of the synagogue: “We Support Equality, Justice, Peace.” The sign identifies the synagogue with the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic left in the United States, with Antifa and Black Lives Matter, with a radicalized Democrat party and cultural elites that are institutionalizing anti-Semitism, all in pursuit—as the Wall Street Journal put it—of a “narrative (that) can be sculpted to fit the larger objective” of creating a Marxist, fascistic society.

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Think of the not-so-golden oldies of progressive left ‘ism’s,’ of communism, Marxism, socialism and Nazism, of hate and pogroms and concentration camps, of looting and arson and terrorism used as political tools. It can’t happen here, in the United States? Yes, it certainly can—or, rather, is…and a significant portion of the Jewish community is playing a major role in advancing the goals of a radical left in bringing it about. As Times of Israel blogger Naya Lekht points out, Jewish organizations are producing leaders who back increasingly government-led movements whose ideologies are aptly summarized by the signs of its militant marchers and rioters in the streets of Democrat-governed cities: “F*ck the Jews,” “F*ck the USA.”

And so, a Boston rabbi is stabbed eight times in broad daylight by an illegal alien from Egypt; New York City Jews are attacked by roving pro-Palestinian gangs; a Chabad in Florida spends thousands of dollars on security for increased protection from anti-Semitic thugs; and in California the state education department continues its “blatantly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel” high school curriculum; and so on, ad nauseum. The latest roundup of FBI hate crime statistics shows that, while overall hate crimes increased by less than 3 percent, American Jews are experiencing double digit hate increases, a 14% increase in the latest crime roundup. Now, more than 60% of all hate crimes in the US take place against Jews. Overall, American Jews are feeling the heat: a recent survey by the American Jewish Committee shows 88% see anti-Semitism as a growing problem, and 82% recognize it as increasing.

But in this time of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic turmoil for American Jews, the evangelical Christian community has proven itself to be a staunch ally of Israel in particular and Jews in general. Unlike so many American Jews who—as the respected former editor-in-chief of Commentary magazine put it—have replaced their love of God and His word with the worship of radical left causes (idols, anyone?), evangelical Christians remain committed to Biblical values and lifestyles. As such, they support Israel…and, not so incidentally, Jews, especially the observant ones.  To paraphrase that great theologian, actress Sally Fields, they like them, they really like them.

I’m both a believer and a Jew, and evangelical Christianity reminds me of growing up as a conservative Jew in New York City and its suburbs, with its emphasis on love, charity and family. Minus the Yiddish. And the Manischewitz. And the Hamantaschen cookies, which may well be God’s revenge for the secular drift of American Jews.

The USA’s evangelical Christians stand solidly behind Israel, sharing its Bible-driven values. But, but, but…whatabout the New Testament? Jews don’t have Jesus and all that stuff. Actually, they do…all of humanity does. The New Testament is actually the Old Testament writ large: same values, same love, same God. Which means that evangelical Christians and observant Jews are simply two sides of the same coin. Foremost among our similarities are values. Academic studies and surveys of American Jewish and Evangelical communities have long pointed to the similarities, all offshoots of Bible-based values, attitudes and behaviors, applied to lifestyles.

For example, researchers have concluded that the fastest growing segment of American Jewry, Orthodox Jews, “vote, believe, worship, act and raise their children more like evangelicals.” One of the most comprehensive studies of the Christian-Israel/Jewish bond is by a trio of American academics. They determined that kinship is significantly based on “(the evangelical) feeling of cultural and religious affinity with Jews.” Never mind the misguided and often deliberately ignorant perceptions pushed by agenda-driven progressives that evangelicals are anti-Semites who hate both the Jews and Israel. As one author of the aforementioned study reinforced, “They [evangelical supporters of Israel] are not antisemites, but philosemites.”

Evangelical Christians are staunch supporters of Israel, and often find themselves on the opposite side of the fence from secular Jews. But not from America’s observant Jews, who understand that Jews and evangelical Christians go together like…uh, ham and cheese. Or bagels and cream cheese. Or, for that matter, matzoh and balls.

About the Author
Stuart H. Schwartz, Ph.D., is a retired dean and award-winning professor at Liberty University, the largest evangelical school in the world. He came to the university after a 25-year career as an executive with media and consumer merchandising organizations. In addition, he was a popular blogger for a leading political/cultural website, talk radio guest, and the author of a social media textbook.
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