Since college days, Torah-observant Jews have taught me to express esteem with aid rather than with praise. Nevertheless, the repeated assaults against your community make me feel the time is right to write a few words on what I, an Italian Gentile, owe your community.

Torah-observant Jews have taught me that reason and faith are friends; that doubt is holier than certainty, and that there is no question too daring or impertinent to be asked from either G‑d or man. You made me appreciate faith as a faculty of the mind, and reason as a faculty of the heart.

Torah-observant Jews helped me remember that tears will always surrender to hope, and that the lessons hardship teaches are essential to maturing and becoming a true mensch.

Torah-observant Jews taught me to help the poor while respecting the rich, since kindness and success are both crucial to building a better world. The rabbis I listen to insist that charity provides not alms, but education, values, and jobs, since real poverty is not measured by material want, but by an empty mind and a spirit too feeble to face the world.

The Torah-observant Jews who hosted me in their homes sometimes skimped six days on food to make sure chicken broth welcomed me on Shabbat. These Jews did not ask me whether I was Jewish or not, or whether I would repay their hospitality by abjuring my beliefs. They just ladled soup when I was hungry and made sure my heart was gladdened by joyous l’chaims.

From Torah-observant Jews I learned to love the Torah and to revere Judaism. Through them I discovered an adult faith in G‑d and the bearings needed to lead a richer and more meaningful life.

There is nothing in these words able to avert the envy of fools and the hatred of the blind. I hope, however, they will help you recite Aleinu with a little more zeal and greet strangers with a broader smile. In the meantime, please remember that true friends look forward to you becoming an even better version of who you already are.