There is no question that pre-Holocaust Christianity (which, after all, constitutes most of its two millennia existence) saw its religious narrative and ritual practice as the one and only means for every single member of the human species to reach the heights of spiritual-ethical achievement .Judaism, on the other hand, has seen its sacred narrative and ritual life as the sole way to true religious-ethical development for Jews themselves, but not for those outside of the Jewish people and tradition.
This entails a huge difference with the most seriously fateful repercussions. Because the one results – in a Jewish 'live and let live' (as the saying goes in American English) attitude to non-Jews; while the other necessarily 'lays down the law' that towards non-Christians the attitude cannot be one of merely 'live and let live.' This is especially true regarding Jews because of Christianity’s foundational relationship with Judaism.
The life and death import of this critical difference is not to say, however, that there are not ethnocentric and even supersessionist elements, and more than the semblance of xenophobic and racist ideas and attitudes, to be found among and within Judaism's sacred texts and teachings. In these the 'sources' of Judaism we find, then, opposing potentialities – opposing perspectives on the non-Jew, many of which are pejorative, negative, exclusionary, intolerant, denigrating and even de-humanizing; while many others are inclusive, tolerant and even affirming, celebratory and embracing.
Concerning 'Tolerance & Pluralism' ~ as well as 'Election' see:
– for a comparative Christian/Jewish perspective, see: Leon Klenicki and Geoffrey Wigoder, editors, A Dictionary of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue (Expanded edition; New York:Paulist Press/ Stimulus Foundation, 1995), pages 211-219; 47-51.
Joseph Levi on the 'Stranger' ,Henri Atlan on ' Chosen People", and David Flusser on 'Christianity' in Arthur Cohen and Paul Mendes-Flohr, editors, Contemporary Jewish Religious Thought: Original Essays on Critical Concepts, Movements, & Beliefs (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, , 1987)
Levinas is right in locating … Jewish universalism in [Judaism's] very non-proselyte stances. Jews do not try to convert all others to Judaism, to impose their particular religious form onto all others, they just stubbornly cling to this form [themselves]. The true universalism is thus paradoxically this very rejection to impose one's message to all others – in such a way, the wealth of the particular content in which the universal consists is asserted, all others are left to be in their particular way of life. However, this stance nonetheless involves its own limitation: it reserves for itself a privileged position of a singularity with a direct access to the universal – all people participate in the universality, but Jews are 'more universal than others.': 'The Jewish faith involves tolerance because, from the beginning, it bears the weight [ - the responsibility - ] of all other men.'
(Emmanuel Levinas, Difficult Freedom: Essays on Judaism, translated by Sean Hand (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1990), see page 173 on 'Religion & Tolerance'.
Slavoj Zizek, 'Smashing the Neighbor's Face: On Emmanuel Levinas' Judaism'; at: