“On ‘loving thy neighbors’ only if they’re Jewish”

Dr. Ron Kronish, The Times of Israel

Dr. Ron Kronish

Dr. Ron Kronish

“A few weeks ago, I led a text study session at the first meeting of a new dialogue group of Jews and Muslims that I now co-lead with my friend and colleague, Kadi Iyad Zahalka, in a school in his village of Kufr Kara, in central Israel. Our new group brings together Jewish and Muslim religious leaders, educators, writers, academics and community leaders.

When I explicated some classical Biblical texts from the Holiness Code in Leviticus chapter 11 about the connection between “love your neighbor as yourself” and “love the stranger,” which both appear in the same chapter, I explained that this commandment is central in Judaism because we were “strangers in the land of Egypt” and therefore, more than any other people, we ought to know the soul of the stranger. After the lesson, one of the Muslims in the group turned to me and asked seriously: “Do the rabbis in Israel know these texts!” I answered that yes they all know them but somehow they do not consider them to be on the same level of importance as keeping Shabbat or kashrut or laws of family purity.”

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