Sign Up: Writer | Buyer
Contact Us

Empire State Building
350 Fifth Ave, Suite 7313
New York, NY 10118
phone: (800) 704-6512

Price: $30.00
Minor modifications of this article are permitted to adjust to the available space or to the publication’s editorial style.
Arab And Jew Walk Hand-In-Hand
by Adele Azar-Rucquoi

I am an Arab Christian. I hold dear a loving command given me by an exceptionally gifted Jewish peacemaker. It changed my life forever.

A couple of decades ago, Hedy Schliefer, with her husband Yumi, led the local chapter of the Foundation for Mideast Communication, a national fellowship of Jews and Arabs working the challenging dream of mideast peacemaking. We focused first on the difficult process of peacemaking among ourselves, chipping away at encrusted biases.

The Christian history was clear. We had badgered Jews from day one, insisting that they be baptized, and if they refused our Crusade, well, we'd find ways to deal with them. One jewish friend, Sarah, suffered a basic alienation: "I will never say the "J" (Jesus) word." Her remark hurt but summed up the history.

I loved these friends, their famous hutzpah, their zest for passionate dancing. Not nominal Jews, most were in love with the richness of Judaism. I was swept away by the Christian connections to prayerful Friday night Shabbas meal, the Hebrew songs. Wasn't their religion Christianity's parent? Shouldn't we be celebrating faith together?

Hedy was a brilliant counselor and humanitarian. I couldn't resist the comparison: "You're more a loving Christ than many of my Christian friends." Without missing a beat she quipped: "Hey, Adele, don't forget! He's one of our boys."

But with these new friends, could I ever wear my mother's gold cross without signaling past horror?

Leading the night's meeting, Hedy notes my raised hand, "What's up?"

"I've got to say something." I swallow hard. Hedy's outstretched arm gestures me up, covers my hand with hers.

"What do you want to say?" giving me a smile that broke down my terror.

I noted the staring faces, the hard wooden floor, the backdrop of blue painted walls, with a fluorescent light over a lone ficus plant. Could I say it?

These friends knew my background as a former nun. They knew that my Christian faith didn't stop at the door. They recognized I had no need to convert anyone anymore.

"Well, frankly, I carry a deep embarrassment about being Christian here. I want to be a proud of it. Jesus is my friend. But it's hard in front of you guys."

My final line bubbles out, totally amazes me. "I want you Jews to know that Christ is the light of my life."

Without a blink or even a moment's reflection, Hedy charged: "Go! Look each Jew in the eye and tell them just that."

I stared wide-eyed. I had no choice. It was a direct order from God!

I circled the room to every Jew only, bending down to look directly into their eyes, finding warm welcome. I begin with Hedy's Orthodox husband, who had lost two sisters in the Holocaust.

"Yumi, Christ is the light of my life." I moved on. "Louise, Christ is the Light of my life" until every Jew witnessed my confession.

Suddenly the room bursts into applause. Tears of joy and relief. I was free.

Blessed Sarah approached and wrapped me in a long hug.

That night, I dial every close Catholic friend. "Listen to what just happened." One responds beautifully: "This is good gospel. It has to be shared."

And so it was. As part of our peacemaking efforts, I had asked my pastor if Hedy and I might present our work to the Sunday congregation. His answer came kind but firm: "Okay, but make it quick!"

Before the final blessing, Hedy and I walked up the altar steps and stood searching the sea of faces. Quick-witted and confident, she grabbed my hand and held it high: "Adele represents my double enemy. She is Catholic. Growing up in Belgium, I ran from Catholics because they threw stones and called me "dirty Jew." She pauses, looking from one side to the other. "Adele represents another enemy. She is Arab. My people and hers have yet to make peace."

You could hear the pews creak in that vast crowded church.

I shared how growing up, I often heard Yahood, the Arabic name for Jew in harsh tones which burrowed deep in my soul creating a ridged separateness, a kind of not-so-subtle anti-semitism.

We walked down to a standing ovation at all five Masses. We take it in, the hand clapping, the warm smiles. Obviously, in hearing our story, some deep seated hunger for peacemaking had been fed. And Father Walsh gave a forceful "thumbs up."

Perhaps Hedy's openness to the "other" is the kind of fearless peacemaking the present world cries for, one-on-one, difference-to-difference, Republican to Democrat embraced. Imagine something like this practiced on a global scale.

(For your information, recently Jim and I watched a documentary by James Carrol, Constantine's Sword. It is an excellent revelation of how Christians have historically have continued to demeaned the Jewish faith. I encourage you to watch it. It is quite historically revealing.)

--Meandering$: Where Spirit & Money Find Each Other, by Adele Azar-Rucquoi, The Sanford Herald, Sanford, FL, Nov 22, 2008

Noted Spiritual writer and motivational speaker, Adele Azar-Rucquoi is the author of "Money As Sacrament, Finding the Sacred in Money." In her weekly column at her hometown Florida newspaper, as in her life-changing workshops, she helps women & men, wealthy & poor, uncover a holy and healthy relationship with themselves and with their money.

Published: Dec 11,2008 14:25
Bookmark and Share
You may flag this article with care.


Featured Authors
Andy Cowan
Andy Cowan, an award-winning writer, whose credits include Cheers and Seinfeld, regularly contributes humor pieces to the Los Angeles Times and the CBS Jack FM Radio Network.
Paul M. J. Suchecki
Paul M. J. Suchecki has more than 30 years of experience as an award winning writer, producer, and cameraman. He's written numerous newspaper and magazine articles. Currently he writes, produces and shoots for LA CityView Channel 35 and his more than 250 articles for are approaching half a million readers.
Coby Kindles
Coby Kindles is a freelance journalist, screenplay writer and essayist. She has been a staff writer at Knight Ridder and a regular contributor to The Associated Press.
Debbie Milam
Debbie Milam is a syndicated columnist for United Press International, an occupational therapist, family success consultant, and motivational speaker with more than 20 years experience. Her work on stress management, spirituality, parenting, and special-needs children has been featured in over 300 media outlets including First for Women, The Miami Herald, Elle, Ladies Home Journal, The Hallmark Channel, PBS and WebMD.
Dan Rafter
Dan Rafter has covered the residential real estate industry for more than 15 years. He has contributed real estate stories to the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Business 2.0 Magazine, Home Magazine, Smart HomeOwner Magazine and many others.
Jack Nargundkar
Jack Nargundkar has been repeatedly published in Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. He is also an author of "The Bush Diaries" published in July 2005.