“Invite a Muslim for Shabbat” – why not a Christian?
Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld at Jewish Journal in “Invite a Muslim for Shabbat”:
It will be a very long time before I forget the news I heard this week of a 5-year-old Muslim child handcuffed at Dulles Airport on Saturday because he was deemed a security threat. … This past Monday night my wife came home and told me that a Muslim acquaintance of hers who she knows through work told her that his child is very scared and is crying non-stop since Saturday. We started talking about what we could do to help this child.
Every Friday night we host lively Shabbat dinners in which we usually entertain members of our congregation. But after hearing that story, my wife and I decided that we should invite this Muslim family for Shabbat dinner. A Shabbat dinner is a powerful opportunity to connect while breaking bread together.
I have reprinted this story not to discuss the police’s action – I assume the police may have their own legal reasons to do this. I have reprinted this story to discuss the decision of this rabbi – to invite this Muslim family to a Shabbat dinner.
Should we invite the non-Jews and possibly anti-Semitic non-Jews to our Jewish Shabbats? I believe it depends on the reason for invitation and the way of celebrating Shabbat.
If we celebrate Shabbat as a commemoration of God’s creation of the humans as equals in His likeness and image and therefore we invite the non-Jews to validate our belief in it before the invitees, such invitation is a spiritually noble one and a way of dispelling the anti-Semitic feelings toward the Jews.
If we celebrate Shabbat as a commemoration of our freedom from slavery in Egypt and as our spiritual duty as the Chosen to help everybody else to obtain the freedom from any oppressive force such as dictatorship, racism, slavery, anti-Semitism, etc., such invitation is a spiritually noble one and a way of dispelling the anti-Semitic feelings toward the Jews.
However, if we celebrate Shabbat just with an expensive family dinner and traditional Shabbat rituals (when we equate the commemorative discussions in the above to the work prohibited on Shabbat), the invitation of non-Jews to this Shabbat may enhance their anti-Semitic feelings about the Jews having luxury lives at the expense of the others.
From the news media:
The Kushners hosted Shabbat dinner for Trump Cabinet members. The gathering is the first indication of how the Kushner-Trump power couple will combine their White House roles with the demands of Shabbat.
The Trump Cabinet members are mostly Christians, and this Kushners’ Shabbat with Christian invitees I believe should be imitated by other Jewish families who celebrate Shabbat. “Invite a Christian for Shabbat” may be much better to fight anti-Semitism than to “Invite a Muslim for Shabbat”.
There is no spiritual way to change the principle Islamic division of the world in two parts – the already Islamic one and the “to become Islamic” one. Of course, there are good Muslims who do not believe in this division of the world but they are a small minority unable to change the fundamental traditional spirituality of the entire Muslim world. There is no equal Jewish and Christian citizens in the perfect Islamic world. Therefore, “Invite a Muslim for Shabbat” may be a “good-feeling” initiative unable to find the common spiritual roots in Judaism and Islam and to dispel anti-Semitic beliefs in the Islamic world.
The majority in the Christian world has no spiritual objections against other religions and it acknowledges the Jewish fundamental roots in Christianity. Therefore, “Invite a Christian for Shabbat” may be a truly spiritual move able to strengthen Judeo-Christian foundation of the US and of the Western countries in general and dispel the anti-Semitic beliefs.