MANILA, Philippines – There are many things in common between Christians and Jews – particularly because Christinanity is often described as an offshoot of Judaism.
Jesus Christ, whom Christians regard as the son of God, was a Jew. One of his most famous teachings, which is also an age-old belief in the Jewish faith, is that one should love his neighbor as he loves himself.
Different versions of paying something forward and coming to the aid of those in need also appear both in the Bible and the Torah.
Such beliefs bind Filipinos and Jews, a relationship that was not only built on common ground but through answering a fellow human being’s call for help.
In the years preceding the Pacific War, the Philippines opened its doors to Jews fleeing Europe, thus saving not a few from the Holocaust.
This was never forgotten by the Jewish community which, even after so many years, continues to return the help that they got in 1939.
Recently, heavy monsoon rains along with tropical storm Maring caused heavy flooding in various parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila – bringing about at least 15 deaths and forcing thousands of Filipinos to evacuate from their homes.
Israeli Ambassador to Manila Menashe Bar-On conducted a relief program to provide goods to residents of Marikina who were affected by the floods.
The relief program was conducted at the Marikina Sports Complex on September 12, in the presence of Marikina City Mayor Del Reyes De Guzman.
“Israel has a long history of helping others, and the Holocaust taught us that we have a responsibility toward each other as human beings and should always help no matter of our cultural differences,” a statement from the Embassy said.
Marikina is special to the Jewish community as it is a reminder of the Philippines’ hospitality toward them when Jews fleeing from Hitler’s regime were allowed to live in housing communities built especially for them by President Manuel L. Quezon.
“In the Jewish tradition, we have the social responsbility to assist those in need – whether it be family, friend, or another country. As the Biblical adage goes, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself,'” says Bar-on.
“This is what binds both our communities – the Jewish and Christian communities, and this is what drives us to fulfill our responsibilities toward each other.”
Since the state of Israel was organized in 1948, the Jewish state has taken part in relief operations all over the world.
In the Philippines, Israel sent medical teams and donated relief goods during typhoon Ondoy (2009) and during the “Habagat” of 2012. – Rappler.com
Photos courtesy of the Israeli Embassy in Manila.