So my colleague Jeff Goldwasser posted this experience from 2nd Night Pesach at the CCAR group (I really wanted to write message board, which shows what kind of grognard I am):
After leading the congregational seder tonight, I listened to a message on my voicemail at the synagogue (big mistake). It was a three-minute speech from an 81-year-old Christian woman who did not give her name (of course), telling me about how she is so angry at rabbis because they were the ones who told the Romans to crucify Jesus. She also explained that she has nothing against Jews in general because she has a son-in-law who is a "nice Jewish gentleman." (Poor fellow.) She just felt like she had to get this long-held, bitter complaint off of her chest. ("I just had to say that, and now I have.")
I am dumbstruck. What, if anything, do I do about this? Just ignore it as the rantings of a crazy person? (But, I'm afraid, that there are so many others.) Do I take it to the newspapers or to my Christian colleagues? (But, I'm afraid, that this would only confirm negative assumptions about "pushy Jews" among the very people I want to reach). Are there any colleagues with advice on how to deal with such a thing?Consensus among colleagues was that this should go into the mental 'circular' file or equivalent, maybe process it with some colleagues (Jewish or non-Jewish) that could help him process (not to point fingers or the like).
In addition, however, it seemed like everyone had a similar story, mostly taking place around Passover. It seems like the Easter-Pesach continuum brings out all kinds of responses, from anonymous phone calls like this to people asking if they could come see a real Pesach sacrifice to dressing up like Jesus and coming to the synagogue to accuse the folks inside of Deicicde and the like.
It occurred to me that this isn't the purview of clergy alone. I've heard from congregants who've had similar experiences, as I did when I was growing up--when I was in kindergarten or first grade I actually had a whole conversation about why I didn't celebrate Christmas because I was Jewish, at which point the other kid asked if I killed Jesus, to which I responded by asking who this Jesus fellow was 'cause I never met the guy.
So, what kind of experiences have you had? Non-Jewish friends--have you ever seen anything like this or do you have equivalents? What do you think one should do with something like this?