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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

And that Christian Jews are Jews as well as Jewish Jews


The

position which Jews occupy among Christians is that which they occupy among people of a different faith. They become obnoxious to people everywhere; for that which is so foreign in its origin, so exclusive in its habits and relations, and so conceited and antagonistic in its creed, will always be so, go where it may. Besides, they will not even eat what others have slain; and hold other people as impure. The very conservative nature of their creed is, to a certain extent, against them; were it aggressive, like the Christian's, with a genius to embrace _all_ within its fold, it would not stir up, or permanently retain, the same ill-will toward the people who profess it; for being of that nature which retires into the corner of selfish exclusiveness, people will naturally take a greater objection to them. Then, the keen, money-making, and accumulating habits of the Jews, make them appear selfish to those around them; while the greediness, and utter want of principle, that characterize some of them, have given a bad reputation to the whole body, however unjustly it is applied to them as a race.

The circumstances attending the Jews' entry into any country, to-day, are substantially what they were before the advent of Christ; centuries before which era, they were scattered, in great numbers, over most part of the world; having synagogues, and visiting, or looking to, Jerusalem, as their home, as Catholics, in the matter of religion, have looked to

Rome. In going abroad, Jews would as little contemplate forsaking their own religion, and worshipping the gods of the heathen, as do Christians, to-day, in Oriental countries; for they were as thoroughly persuaded that their religion was divine, and all others the inventions of man, as are Christians of theirs. Then, it was a religion exclusively Jewish, that is, the people following it were, with rare exceptions, exclusively Jews by nation. The ill-will which all these circumstances, and the very appearance of the people themselves, have raised against the Jews, and the persecutions, of various kinds, which have universally followed, have widened the separation between them and other people, which the genius of their religion made so imperative, and their feelings of nationality--nay, _family_--so exclusive. Before the dispersion, Palestine was their home; after the dispersion, the position and circumstances of those abroad at the time underwent no change; they would merely contemplate their nation in a new aspect--that of exiles, and consider themselves, for the time being, at home wherever they happened to be. Those that were scattered abroad, by the destruction of Jerusalem, would, in their persons, confirm the convictions of the others, and reconcile them to the idea that the Jewish nation, as such, was abroad on the face of the earth; and each generation of the race would entertain the same sentiments. After this, as before it, it can scarcely be said that the Jews have ever been tolerated; if not actually persecuted, they have, at least, always been disliked, or despised. The whole nation having been scattered abroad, with everything pertaining to them as a nation, excepting the temple, the high-priesthood, and the sacrifices, with such an ancient history, and so unequivocally divine a religion, so distinct from, and obnoxious to, those of other nations, it is no wonder that they, the common descendants of Abraham and Sarah, should have ever since remained a distinct people in the world; as all the circumstances surrounding them have universally remained the same till to-day.

A Jew of to-day has a much greater aversion to forsake the Jewish community than any other man has to renounce his country; and his associations of nationality are manifested wherever a Jewish society is to be found, or wherever he can meet with another Jew. This is the view which he takes of his race, as something distinct from his religion; for he contemplates himself as being of that people--of the same blood, features, and feelings, all children of Abraham and Sarah--that are to be found everywhere; that part of it to which he has an aversion being only such as apostatize from his religion, and more particularly such as embrace the Christian faith. In speaking of Jews, we are too apt to confine our ideas exclusively to a creed, forgetting that Jews are a race; and that Christian Jews are Jews as well as Jewish Jews. Were it possible to bring about a reformation among the Jews, by which synagogues would embrace the Christian faith, we would see Jewish Christian churches; the only difference being, that they would believe in Him whom their fathers pierced, and lay aside only such of the ceremonies of Moses as the Gospel had abrogated. If a movement of that kind were once fairly afoot, by which was presented to the Jew, his people as a community, however small it might be, there would be a great chance of his becoming a Christian, in one sense or other: he could then assume the position of a protesting Jew, holding the rest of his countrymen in error; and his own Christian-Jewish community as representing his race, as it ought to exist.


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