By the Rev. Cariño Casas
Hamas’ brazen and heinous infiltration of Israel and murder of more than 1,400  Israelis – most of them unarmed civilians – on October 7, 2023, shocked the world. Some rejoiced.  Most have lamented. The shock and pain are perhaps most keenly felt by our Jewish neighbors.
That strip of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is the historic and biblical homeland of the 12 tribes of Jacob. What the world cannot agree on is whether they should reside there in the 21st century.
Here’s the thing. Neither can the Jewish people. Their opinions about the modern state of Israel are as varied as any other group of people.
Nevertheless, Hamas’ murderous attack on those living in Israel proper – not settlements in contested areas – has our Jewish neighbors asking what’s next. They are wondering who they can trust. They might be wondering who outside the Jewish community cares about them.
A Jewish woman recently tweeted, “This week I've learned which friends would hide me during the next Holocaust; which friends would not; and which friends would help hand me over. I've got ‘friends’ in all three categories.” 
A CMJ supporter shared a story of a rabbi in Florida who is involved in interfaith dialogue and has many Christian acquaintances. When the CMJ supporter called the rabbi, the rabbi said, I know so many Christians from the interfaith work, but none except you have called since the attack on Israel.
Friends, we need to be that Christian who checks on our Jewish neighbors. See below for some tips on how to reach out. Of course, we can also be reaching out along similar lines to our Muslim and Arab neighbors who may also be affected by the tensions of this war.
Guide to checking on your Jewish neighbors in the midst of the Israel-Hamas War
- Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to care for your Jewish neighbor in this time.
- Start by reaching out. Call or text your Jewish friend. Send an email. Don’t yet know the rabbi down the street? Send a greeting card with your business card saying you’d like to invite them to tea or coffee to hear their thoughts on what’s happening in Israel.
- Ask open-ended questions. Example: “How are you doing?” Don’t assume you know how your Jewish friend feels about the war.
- Actively listen. Just listen. Pay attention, stay focused, be patient, empathize, withhold judgment, respond appropriately. 
- Be ready to be vulnerable. If your Jewish neighbor accepts your invite, be prepared for some questions and to answer honestly. They may ask you what you think about the war. They may ask why you decided to reach out.
Do not be ashamed that you are a Christian. This encounter is not meant to be evangelistic, but neither should you shy away from saying how Jesus’ Jewishness requires the Christian to love our Jewish neighbors, whether they accept Jesus as Messiah or not. This may be new for your Jewish friend, as they will be well versed in the antisemitic history of the church.
- Don’t be discouraged if your Jewish neighbors aren’t ready to accept your invitation. There is a lot of history in the way. Keep praying and keep trying gently.
- Get informed. You can get a peek into how our Jewish neighbors see the world through Jewish media. You’ll also learn about antisemitic incidents that worry the Jewish community but don’t make it into mainstream news.
Where to start: The Forward (https://forward.com/). The Jewish Chronicle (https://www.thejc.com/). The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (https://www.jta.org/). The Times of Israel (https://www.timesofisrael.com/).
- Ebrahim, Abbas Al Lawati, Eoin McSweeney,Nadeen. “Israel Is at War with Hamas. Here’s What to Know.” CNN, 16 October 2023.
- “Iran Lauds Hamas Attack Even as It Denies Involvement.” France 24, 9 October 2023.
- @DrMonica Osborne, “To quote a friend on Facebook, this week I've learned which friends…” 15 October 2023.
- Joy, Sara. “Active Listening Exercises: What to Do and Not to Do.” Tacoma Christian Counseling, 6 April 2022. https://tacomachristiancounseling.com/articles/active-listening-exercises-what-to-do-and-not-to-do.