26 January 2013

You sure don't look Jewish

Jewish mother and son by bobmendo
Jewish mother and son, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.

The story is told of the Jewish congregation in Tokyo, one August day. Their rabbi died and there was no local replacement. They contacted the synagogue in New York and asked for help. Sure enough, a rabbi from the US would be available in time for the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). Not to worry.

A couple weeks later, the email arrived at the Japanese synagogue with flight details. The president of the synagogue and the gabbai went to collect (fetch) the rabbi from Haneda, the airport in Tokyo. They held the sign "Rabbi Cohen" and waited outside customs.

Finally, a bearded man came out of the customs queue and approached the Japanese men. "I'm Rabbi Cohen," he stated.

"Funny," the president of the synagogue said, "you shue no look-a Jewish!"

What does it mean to 'look Jewish?" Does Kirk Douglas or Adam Sandler or Woody Allen or Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Watts or Natalie Portman? How about Sasha Baron Cohen?

I hear this once in a while in our shop or as I represent Jews for Jesus around the globe. Some say, "You look exactly as I imagine Jesus would look" while others say, "You sure don't look Jewish."

Appearances can be deceiving. Look at this photo of the Virgin Mary and the baby in her arms. Who would guess that this church, in Randwick, a suburb of Sydney, is founded on a Jewish boy, born to a Jewish woman? He looks more Roman than Jewish. He looks more infantile than adult. She looks more regal than as she was, the simple teenaged wife of a simple carpenter in a small village in Israel 2000 years ago.

What things are you missing because of appearances? Have you read the Bible lately? Or did you think it a book for grandmothers and simpletons? Or have you been to a gathering of God's people lately? Or did you think it a place of too many 'goody goodies', and straight-laced folks who are 'holier than thou' and thus not real? Are they too judgmental and religious? Maybe the appearances are not what is actually there? How will you know?

This weekend, when so much is happening here in country, (Full moon, Australia Day, Tu Bish'vat, International Holocaust Remembrance Day), check out who God is, who Y'shua is, what church is... you might be surprised at what you find. You might not, but that's the risk/ reward, isn't it?

No comments: