Sep. 13th, 2011

midwestbuddha: (Default)
First, some background info: the purpose of these interviews is to bring people of all faiths closer together by promoting understanding of different perspectives. Enjoy! And if you would like to be interviewed, I am currently looking for someone who can tell me about their viewpoint as a Hindu or Sufi. Just comment here and I'll contact you. Thanks!

Interview With [livejournal.com profile] prelocandkanar--thanks again, Beth! Readers: Please note that this interview contains more detail than any other before! But I have retained Beth's answers in their entirety, because I enjoyed them so much and felt confident you would, too. You will see this interview is divided into several sections, due to length. Enjoy!

1.) What is your chosen faith?
Jewish.

2.) Please briefly describe the basis of your faith, as you see it. (Feel free to quote a brief sacred text which illustrates this description for you.)
Judiasm is based on monotheism (the idea that there is one God), and is equally based on living an ethical, moral life. Actually believing in God is optional.

3.) Were you (and your mate) raised in your chosen faith? If not, how did you learn about it?
Yes, my husband and I were both raised Jewish, but in different ways.

4.) What is the most compelling element of your chosen faith, for you?
I would choose to be Jewish even if I hadn’t been born to it. Here’s why. (I am describing the style of Judaism I was raised with. As with most religions, there are other “flavors” that may not agree with everything I say. But my rabbi does, and so do most Reform and Conservative rabbis and their congregations.)

Judaism does not require you to suspend your intellect. It doesn’t insist that you believe in miracles, the literal truth of biblical stories or even in God. It does encourage you to question and think for yourself. Its primary goal is to guide and encourage people to lead ethical, moral lives and to treat other people well.

Judaism has no interest in converting or persuading others to Judaism. It doesn’t insist that Judaism is the only “true” way. It doesn’t tell people that are not Jewish that there will be “consequences” to not being Jewish.

It has virtually no political structure, in that there is no “chief rabbi,” and no dogma handed down. The only political structure is the tumult of each synagogue with their rabbi, cantor and board of directors. The appropriate comment here is, I think, Oy. No dogma?? Two Jews = three synagogues + 5 opinions. [Old joke: One Jew, stranded on a desert island, builds two synagogues. Why? The other one’s “the one I wouldn’t be caught dead in.”]
Judaism has almost no interest in the afterlife. Everything about it is concerned with this life, and living a good, honorable life. There is no “burn in hell,” there is no concept of “original sin.” Judaism tells you that you should act in a moral way not in order to “buy” yourself a “reward” in the afterlife, but simply because it’s the right thing to do.

In Christianity, one goes to confession, and the priest gives penance, after which the sin is absolved and one is “clean” again; at least, that’s how I understand it. In Judaism’s equivalent, Yom Kippur, one appeals directly to God to be forgiven for one’s “sins” – But! You can’t be forgiven until you’ve asked the people you’ve wronged for forgiveness, and done something to (attempt to) make your misdeeds right.

In Christianity (as I understand it), one often goes through clergy or prays through intermediaries like saints. (Maybe more so in the past than now??) In Judaism, if you want it, everyone has a direct line to God. (I guess I know that Christians also believe they can pray directly to God, but the custom seems to be to often go through an intermediary.)

Also, on all the political and cultural issues that are important to me, Judaism comes out on the “right” side of the issue: gay rights, women’s rights, reproductive freedoms, diversity issues, etc. (Although Jews of a different political outlook from mine can also find Jewish communities that reflect those points of view, I’m sure.)

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