A lot of controversy surrounds Mel Gibson’s new movie, “The Passion of the Christ.” The movie is about the last 12 hours of Jesus' life, but it reportedly places responsibility on the Jews for crucifying Jesus.
The movie is said to be troubling, yet powerful. Christian leaders say it's a true, historical account of Jesus' final hours, but Jewish leaders question the film's historical accuracy and fear the movie blames the Jews for Jesus' death. They feel that this fuels the fire of anti-Semitism.
Some are calling “The Passion of Christ” violent and anti-Semitic. It is entirely in Aramaic and has English subtitles. The movie depicts Jesus' crucifixion on the cross, which is the heart of Christian faith. Jewish people, however, say the movie faults the Jews for what happened to Jesus. Rabbi Anat Moskowitz of Temple Shalom says, “The movie as I know it shows Jews in the mob scene. My concern is that people are going to hate us more and find a reason to hate us.”
In fact, Temple Shalom is preparing for the movie's release. Rabbi Moskowitz says she’s talking with kids about what to do when someone says, “I hate you, you're Jewish.” She’s also preparing them for how the
public might react after seeing the movie. “To put out something that would cause more hatred is my concern,” says Maskowitz.
Christian leaders, on the other hand, say “The Passion” isn't about anti-Semitism. Pastor Rob Brendle of New Life Church argues, “People aren't going to watch the movie to take offense to the Jews. People watching are going to see the love of God when he died.. that's what you're looking at."
Regardless, the controversy remains. Rabbi Maskowitz says, “I don't understand why the focus is on anti-Semitism and the hatred for my people.”
But Pastor Brendle has other beliefs. “I don't think people are going to come out hating Jews,” he says. “I think they're going to come out loving Jesus.”
The movie opens in theaters Ash Wednesday, which marks 40 days before the Easter weekend.