Ira Bass of Temple Beth El visits Meggido
Standing amid the rocky relics of Megiddo, an ancient city whose Greek name is Armageddon, Ira Bass heard words that startled him.
They came from the Rev. Steve Shoemaker. He had picked this site of countless bloody battles and, according to the Bible, the place where good and evil will face off at the end of the world to speak about what he called the terrible division between Jews and Christians.
He was talking about anti-Semitism.
It was this age-old hatred of Jews that had caused Iras fathers family to flee early 20th century Russia then a country of organized massacres called pogroms for the United States.
Ira and wife Linda, both natives of Jewish enclaves in the Bronx, had been subjected to an American brand of this ugliness when they moved to the South.
It was 1980. Fort Worth, Texas.
Ira, then 25, was at work, crafting ads for the Tandy Corporation, parent company of Radio Shack.
Linda, pregnant with their first child, picked up the ringing phone in their home.
On the other end: a Ku Klux Klansman who had managed to get a copy of the membership list at the Bass synagogue The Jew Book, the KKK called it.
We know who you are, the caller told Linda. And we know where you live.
At Megiddo, as Ira, now 58, listened, Shoemaker appeared to be asking forgiveness for these and other sins against Jews.
Every Lent, the Baptist minister told the interfaith group, Christians ought to repent the damage and persecution that we have perpetrated against our sisters and brothers in the Jewish faith.
Suddenly, Ira felt like he was there representing his ancestors, witnessing words they had perhaps longed to hear.
He was crying as he approached Shoemaker. He wanted to tell him how much it meant to hear not just a Christian, but a Christian leader say such things. But, choking up, Ira couldnt get the words out.
So, the two men one Jewish, one Christian collapsed in an embrace.
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