It is often tempting – and certainly emotionally justifiable – to glance around us and see enemies on all sides.
Antisemitism is on the rise in the United States and in Europe. Iran is threatening to develop nuclear weapons that could wipe the State of Israel off the map. Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis are aiming rockets at Tel Aviv.
The problem is that when we spend our energy exclusively trying to counter those who hate us, or convince them to stop hating us, we end up missing the kind of historic opportunities the Bible describes during the reign of King Solomon.
The Book of Kings famously records King Solomon’s construction of the First Temple in Jerusalem in the 10th century B.C.E. But Bible readers will remember that King Solomon and the people of Israel did not build it alone. Solomon reached out to the other great civilizations of the ancient Levant, shared his plan with them, and asked for partnership in building something remarkable together.
The magnificent first temple that emerged was the result of collaboration between the Jewish people and the Phoenician King of Tyre, Hiram, whose name even appears in the Bible as an ally of the Israelite kings.
For Hiram, building the temple was not just a good business deal. It was also about his friendship with Solomon and his father David, and his honor for the God of Israel. The building of that temple served as an early example of Jews and non-Jews working together for the common good.
These kinds of opportunities have come few and far between in the intervening 3,000 years. Since then, of course, God has answered millennia of Jewish longing by returning us to the Land of Israel, affording us the capacity to fulfill our mission and purpose of learning the Bible in Eretz Yisrael and being a “light unto the nations.”
But the founding of the State of Israel is only the first step. And Jewish success in Israel is only the beginning.
It is our obligation to look around the world for friends who can help us transform society across the globe for the better—who can help us, once again, to build something extraordinary that will inspire the world.
Such friends have been difficult for the Jewish people to find.
Centuries of persecution have certainly taken their toll. And as the present reality instructs us, antisemitism isn’t going anywhere. But anti-Jewish bigotry is a historical constant. The example of King Solomon, by contrast, encourages us to ask: What is new in Jewish history?
The answer, in 2022, is that for the first time, perhaps since King Solomon’s era, there is actually not just hatred of the Jewish people, but organized love of the Jewish people and Israel. And it is primarily coming from our friends and allies in other communities of faith, particularly from Christian communities throughout the world.
And this presents us with a Solomonic opportunity: an opportunity to embrace that friendship from a point of mutual strength and shared aspirations—to transcend the dreary and depressing state of our politics and culture, and strive instead to create a world that we’ll be proud to bequeath to our children and grandchildren.
This is why I’m so proud that my organization, Bnai Zion, is working with the Jerusalem Post to establish the Jerusalem Post Christian World portal.
Since its founding 114 years ago, Bnai Zion has sought to answer and execute against that very question: what is new in Jewish history?
When Bnai Zion saw the founding of a Jewish state on the horizon, we invested in and helped establish Magen David Adom to make sure its citizens would have the emergency support they’d need in the coming years. We knew, as well, that a new state would have not just needs, but aspirations. So we were instrumental in establishing Bezalel Academy, Israel’s oldest institution of higher education. More recently, we spearheaded healthcare initiatives in Israel’s periphery and established Yad Rosa—a cutting-edge national center blending kindness and Israel’s high-tech expertise—to help care for the country’s elderly population.
Today, under my leadership, Bnai Zion is again looking towards the future—this time towards the unprecedented opportunities we have to forge Solomonic partnerships. Ones that help make possible the fulfillment of Isaiah’s immortal words: “for the law shall go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
Through the Jerusalem Post Christian World portal on jpost.com, we are proud to make the best of Israel — its past, present and future — available and accessible to our wonderful friends and allies in the Christian community.
Rabbi Ari Lamm is CEO of Bnai Zion. The Jerusalem Post’s Christian World portal is presented in collaboration with his organization. Learn more: www.jpost.com/christianworld.