A Jewish mother's guide to end times

There was a time when "God-fearing" was associated with responsibility, accountability and foresight.

christians jlem 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
christians jlem 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
No weapon engineered against you will succeed.... (Isaiah 54:17) The above words from a recent Haftara, the reading from the Prophets, are comforting for a mother who sits in a leaderless country run by lunatics. With Iranian-backed Syria literally looming on my horizon, my sons are assigned to combat units. America's liberty crusade through the Middle East has just been turned into a shop-'til-you-drop arms extravaganza for peace, with headlines blaring: "US military deals with Mideast promote stability." There is talk of imminent war, but our army is preoccupied with desecrating Hebron, the city of our forefathers, while those affected are so pained as to blaspheme our army. The Jewish unity needed to ensure victory, security and sanity seems eons away. Nu? So what else is new? Some warn of global warming, and others of nuclear winter. Through it all, I hope and pray that my family will remain firmly planted on the ever-shifting Syrian-African rift. Armageddon is not on my mind - but redemption always is. I believe the words of the prophets are true, but as a Jew I know that whereas good prophecies will be actualized, the bad ones can be overturned by human endeavors. I also know that battles can be fought in the heavens, rather than on earth. I anticipate miracles, and yet I've got a few jerry cans of water and some extra blankets stored in the corner, just in case. "BIBLE THUMPING" is something I do two weeks before Pessah, when I clean my bookshelves in search of random crumbs. And "doomsday" is what my youngest kid will face if he brings one more stray cat into this house. "Tribulation" is what this mother went through two weeks ago as I tried to keep my children, goats, dogs, cats, chickens, birds and rabbits cool through an incredible heat wave. And "rapture" is what I felt when the temperature broke, leaving me - and a stressed-out air conditioner - alone. But it's when I'm alone that domestic and international difficulties never fail to invade my bliss. As a creative religious woman living in the Holy Land, I confess that I've toyed with numerous spiritual scenarios and pondered various political and military options. But never have I entertained thoughts of a biblically-based Christian-Jewish merger against Islam. I'm grateful that I've remained fairly lucid despite the chaos ( I'm afraid, with regard to this issue, many have not). It wasn't long ago that a person could have gone through an entire lifetime without ever having heard of the term "eschatology." "Judeo-Christian" was a term used to describe a cultural tradition within the framework of Western civilization - it was not a religion. And what exactly is "Islamo-fascism," if not a newfangled term for an ancient problem called Amalek? A CORRUPTED fusing of faiths, ideology and political interests has produced some incredibly mutant relationships - born in sin - that have infringed upon the independent belief systems of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. These hybrid hydras have smashed all that is sacred by trespassing spiritual, personal, political, cultural and academic boundaries. A devastating precedent with unimaginable consequences has been set in motion. Shimon Erem, a retired IDF general, is now described as "an early mobilizer of Judeo-Christian anti-Islamofascism" who feels compelled to warn the US "that it must quickly end its indifference before it ceases to be a society of Christian ideals." MK Benny Elon broke all historic Jewish precedent by appealing to missionary leaders to convert Muslims to Christianity, and by then proceeding to invite missionaries to become an integral part of the Jewish state's political process. Israeli academic and director of the NGO the Jerusalem Summit, Dr. Dmitry Radyshevsky, calls for a Christian restoration of Europe, and for Christians and Jews to unite "politically and spiritually" in the face of radical Islam. He believes that "Jews and Christians are one tree, with the Jews forming the roots and the Christians the branches..." IN A RECENT Jerusalem Post article, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin ran roughshod over his revered rebbe's staunch position opposing interfaith theological dialogue. Perhaps Riskin was unaware that some of those evangelical leaders whom he singled out for praise are actively promoting a Messianic Jewish (Hebrew-Christian) restoration in Israel. And I believe his understanding of the concept of theological grafting - which deeply touched him - may be incomplete. I'll go out on a limb and suggest that not only does the cultish metaphor of a grafted Judeo-Christian olive tree constitute a prohibited union, but that any Jew who adheres to, advocates or entertains this belief is dabbling with avoda zara (literally, "strange worship"). You can delve into Rambam, consult with your rabbi or simply read the following quote found on the Web site of the youth division of the ICEJ (International Christian Embassy) to understand just how forbidden this concept is for Jews: Ephesians 3 vs. 6 "This mystery is that through the gospel the gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus" (http://www.grafted.org/purpose.html). WHEN ISLAMIC jihadi meets Christian crusader over the future of the land of Israel, and the amen choir is made up of religious Zionists, MKs and sundry Jewish national leaders, where will that leave concerned Jews who may not be Torah-literate or textbook Zionists, but who do possess beating Jewish hearts, a natural aversion to alien theology and an overwhelming sense of terrestrial responsibility? Do we just dismiss them as godless liberals and saw off that branch to make room for faithful Christians? Grafting 50 million-plus rapture-ready Evangelicals onto the far-Right branches of our now lopsided tree means we stand to lose a few good roots - and lose ourselves when that tree topples. And what about the rest of the forest, meaning the rest of humanity? There was a time when "God-fearing" was associated with responsibility, accountability and foresight. The ability to belt out biblical verses verbatim and creatively interpret prophetic writings was not a prerequisite to walking with God or being a great political leader. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of our current voluntary liaison with the cross is that we stand to surrender an essential part of ourselves - and our universal role. IT WAS JEWS who showed the world how to temper and refine religious zeal with wisdom. We were able to transform lofty out-of-this-world concepts by bringing them into an earthly domain and channeling the inspiration into concrete, productive, ethical, responsible and compassionate behavior and action that was universally acceptable. We never felt comfortable with the gushing hallelujah crowd, because, for us, religious experience had always been personal, intimate and non-intrusive. We were to lead and win converts by sanctifying God's name and serving as outstanding individual and collective examples. At the end of the day - as opposed to "the end of days" - Israel's Left will have to foot the bill for initiating Oslo and the physical and emotional upheaval that ensued. However, the national Zionist camp could have it worse. In our desperation and political isolation, we have knowingly forged a forbidden relationship and initiated and implemented programs that have caused spiritual destruction and gross erosion of the fences which were built around the Torah. In a historic biblical reversal, it seems we have tried to sell our birthright to some clean-shaven, faithful preachers in exchange for the opportunity to rake in some badly-needed tourist bucks, secure influence in Washington and pass the burden of caring for our own people's charitable and humanitarian needs on to ready and willing Christians. Without immediate correction, we may have to call this epic chapter in Jewish history "Esau's revenge." The writer lives in the Golan Heights, is a painter and the author of The Oslo Years: A Mother's Journal.