By Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski
Exclusive for Shalom Magazine
In the weeks following the deadly attacks on southern Israel by Hamas on October 7, a great sense of anxiety has roiled my Jewish friends and colleagues. As a Christian, I have seen the pain and anguish of so many I care about, and of members of communities to which I feel a connection. Their anxiety about the future and their grief and concern for loved ones in Israel is palpable. Some lost family members or know the kidnapped. Others pray and watch as the news unfolds. Many are simply waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Amidst the horrors of October 7 and the military actions that followed, I also saw how so many around me began to worry that they were alone, that public support was shifting away from them, if it was ever there. I heard their cries of support, implicit or explicit, regarding the actions of Hamas, the labeling of victims as occupiers, the unwillingness to acknowledge the extent of atrocities perpetrated against the innocent. All of this made some of my close friends and colleagues feel isolated and alone.
I want to say clearly to the Boston Jewish community that you are not alone. There are many non-Jews like myself who stand with you. We see your suffering and your pain. We mourn with you and grieve the death of innocents. We too want the hostages released. Some of us, like myself and those at the center I direct, have been able to use our resources to issue statements, and to be allies and advocates with our Jewish partners. We bear witness to the events of October 7.
Some of us are motivated by religious convictions, and many of us stand with the Jewish community because of friendships and personal connections. We also feel pulled in other directions. We don’t want to see any innocent lives lost. The Christians among us are concerned for our co-religionists in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, whose positions are already precarious. We see the suffering of fellow human beings but we also refuse to be pulled into the polarizing forces around us.
We saw what happened on October 7 and we won’t look away. We offer a hand, a hug, a prayer. We will stand beside you. And we wish to simply say, “You are not alone.” Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski is the Kraft Family Professor and Director of the Center for Christian-Jewish Relations at Boston College.