In my hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, where Jews are few and far between, a local Chabad chapter recently held a prayer vigil for the victims of the October 7 massacre. The setting was a tranquil park off the shores of Lake Michigan. The conservative Christian mayor of Traverse City was one of the speakers. Tone-deaf to his audience, he read from the New Testament and began lecturing the local Jews about the need for peace, love for one’s neighbor, and other teachings of Jesus. Polite applause followed, but I had to restrain myself from voicing my thoughts on the whole turning-the-other-cheek philosophy.
We Jews are not Christians. Our traditions and teachings on forgiveness and peace differ significantly. In Judaism, forgiveness is not freely granted; it must be sought. We don’t turn the other cheek; we believe in justice. Many well-meaning Jews are posting wishes for peace right now, perhaps to placate their non-Jewish friends. I’m not among them. I don’t wish for peace. Now is not the time.
I am weeping and enraged for the murdered, the raped, the kidnapped, the tortured.