500 years of ghetto... are we out yet?

This article highlights what happened 500 years ago last month. The senate of Venice mandated "that all Jews residing in the city live together in a monitored and gated area, separated from the Christians; thus Jews were relocated to a small island encircled by walls, where a foundry used to be (in the Venetian dialect, ‘ghetto’ was the word for foundry)."

Ever since then we have been seeking our freedom from such governmental action, and looking at the Christian power elite as 'them' who would use any opportunity to incarcerate 'us' again. Of course, today we celebrate Passover, the quintessential holiday of Jewish freedom from slavery in Egypt. We had been jailed, incarcerated if you will, in the detention centre known as the land of Goshen, for hundreds of years under one Pharaoh or another. So being in a ghetto was not a new experience for us as Jewish people.

At the time of Haman, many Jewish people were living in Shushan in Persia. At the time of the captivity of the northern 10 tribes (not really 'lost') into Assyria, our experience was anything but freedom. 140 years later, the Babylonians captured the two southern tribes, and took us away. Release came later, but for a while we all were in about one spot. In the first century, many Jewish people were living in what we call Israel today, but not all of us. At the time of Rashi, many Jewish people were living in France and throughout Europe. But in 1516, the Jewish people, who had already been kicked out of Spain (1492) and the entire Iberian peninsula in the late 15th century, were now being pushed to another limitation. Ghetto might be a kind of music or culture today, but then it was simply a culture of prevention.

We were prevented from choosing our own lodging. We were prevented from travel. We were prevented access to universities and certain professions. Our buildings had limitations. The Christian leadership throughout Europe had a serious negative impression and interaction with Jewish people in those days. And many Jewish people despised those who dominated us. No collegiality. No relationship.

Prevention is not welcome to any group or society. Freedom to express ourselves, freedom to enjoy sunshine or beaches, freedom to join other groups or movements-- that's welcome. But prevention? Not at all. Who wants that?

The ghetto remains as an almost-haunted location. My wife and I stood there in July, 2003, and I'll never forget the eerie feeling. I wish for my people to come out from there to this day. The 'sounds' of silence in that place, early that summer morning were chilling. I couldn't shake the memories that I had never personally experienced from those 16th century moments. The gate at the front of the ghetto was 4 inches thick. Preventing to be sure.

Now to be fair, we are not without freedoms here in Australia, or in Israel or in the US. But the real freedom that God wants us to have, each of us, is the freedom on the inside. I mean, a jailed person really can be free. A jailer or any person outside of prison can still be 'in prison' in a way. They can be full of bitterness or lack forgiveness. Their hatred can be a prison itself. What then allows a person real freedom?

I believe real freedom comes from knowing the Prince of Life, whose execution nailed non-forgiveness for eternity. When Yeshua died on the Roman cross, his murder accomplished what no human martyrdom could ever attain. He died for the sins of the world. He died to give everyone freedom on the inside. He was the one who said what has adorned libraries and churches and halls of learning for centuries, "You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free."

What is the difference between a gated senior community and a ghetto? Answer: Who holds the keys. If you have the keys, you can come and go at will. If others have the keys, then you do as they require.

So what will get us out of the ghetto? The One who died for our sins and rose from the dead. Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah died to set us free. No matter where we live. With whom we live. In or out of jail. We can live. You can live. Be free today on your hospital bed, in the detention centre, in Patmos, Bora Bora, Sydney or Perth. How? Receive Yeshua as your Lord and Saviour. Be born again. You will know freedom then. Passover or any day.

Are we out yet?


Anonymous said…
Yes Yeshua perfectly role models an overcoming freedom from perpetuating an unforgiving attitude. He lives and is still despised by people, bearing grief. Yet he has taught to value remaining secure and affirmed through intimacy with The Everlasting Father . Yeshua shows us His source of sufficiency, by choosing to remain in continual unity, by The Holy Spirit. In the letter of Ephesians chapter 5:19 we too can be conformed to His image as we are 'speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart'..depending on our Heavenly Father. Try now, inhale oxygen down to your diaphragm, and sing to Him. This is one key I use to unlock any daily attitudes & feelings of contempt to self and others. By believing in His goodness, forgiveness and compassion, any hurt or fearful heart can be healed from protective self-sufficiency to radiate His spiritual character from within. Abiding in Yeshua is the hope of glory, good news!
Bob Mendelsohn said…
Excellent points, Anony, if we really want freedom, we must be forgiving and we must be receiving His forgiveness. What a great God we have; what a wonderful Saviour who radiates His compassion from on high towards all who trust in Him. Good words, thanks for sharing.

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