Jews learning that Christianity is not the enemy
As a yeshiva graduate, I never thought I would live to see identifying Jews, let alone Orthodox rabbis, so happy to be in a room with a menorah and a Christmas tree. Yet that signified a sea change taking place in American Jewish life — the realization that Christianity is no longer the enemy or the great Other but, for the first time in 2,000 years, a great ally.
This realization has yet to dawn on many Jews. The memory of almost two millenniums of European, i.e., Christian, anti-Semitism culminating in the Holocaust is seared deeply in Jewish hearts and minds, and it is very hard for most Jews to truly believe that the cross is a friend, not an invitation to a pogrom.
But American Christianity has never been like European Christianity in its attitude toward Jews and Judaism. Jews have been equals and honored as such from even before the creation of the United States. Many of the founders studied Hebrew; Thomas Jefferson wanted the Seal of the United States to depict the Jews' exodus from Egypt; Yale University's insignia is in Hebrew; a verse from the Torah (Leviticus) is inscribed on the Liberty Bell; a rabbi attended George Washington's inauguration — the list of pro-Jewish expressions in U.S. history is endless. But perhaps most telling is the fact that although there have been any number of Christian countries and there are many secular ones today, it is the U.S. that calls itself Judeo-Christian.
It is not often that the orthodox of any faith, and certainly within Judaism, are at the vanguard of a movement of change. But the number of ultra-Orthodox at the White House, and their passionate support for an evangelical Christian named George W. Bush, made manifest what is already known: Orthodox Jews understand that the Jews' greatest allies are the only other group in the world to believe that the Torah is from God — conservative Christians.