Oct. 17th, 2011

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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!

5.) How often do you experience others’ prejudices directed toward you regarding your faith(s)? (i.e. daily, weekly? Is this a common or uncommon occurrence?)

I myself have almost never experienced prejudice. I’m well aware that where I live, it used to be common to have “restricted” neighborhoods or clubs where Jews were not welcome. But I’ve never experienced it.

But what I do feel is my perception, in the US where I live, of the almost universal assumption that one is Christian. It’s subtle but there. Here’s a striking illustration.

When my daughter was very little, in December, we could hardly go into a store or shop without the shopkeeper asking my daughter (in a very friendly manner) if she was looking forward to Santa Claus. Was Santa going to bring her lots of presents? Was she excited? I had trouble figuring out how to handle this.

There was no malice here, only really nice people being warm and friendly. But I couldn’t say, or ask my daughter to say, yes, we were looking forward to Santa. But there was no graceful way to say “no.” Saying “No; we’re Jewish” felt like it might make the other person feel uncomfortable; it sounded like a rebuke and like too much information. I tried saying it with a smile in a casual, off-handed way, but kind of resented being put on the spot. At one point, I thought I had a great solution. My daughter’s birthday is in December, so, when asked about Santa, I’d finesse the question and say, “And she’s looking forward to her birthday, too.” I was so proud of this, until they said, “But you’ll still get Christmas presents, too, right?”

Another example of this is the preponderance of Christmas fanfics around December.

6.) Would you briefly describe one such incident, how it made you feel and what you did about it?

I guess I just did.

7.) What is your favorite faith tradition?

I guess the Passover Seder, with its celebration of freedom and insistence that it’s understood as a universal and timeless theme. There’s a line in the Seder that says that each generation recognizes a new affliction or prejudice that had not been acknowledged before, and must work to overcome it.

8.) If you could dispel the most common misconception about your faith, what would it be and how would you go about it?

Because Judaism is, to a large extent, both a faith and a people (and a culture), there are misconceptions about both Judaism and about Jews. I guess the misconception is that Jews are “different” or “other.” How would I go about dispelling it? How about something like this survey?

9.) If you left a previous faith for the one you now call your own, why did you do so and how do you feel about your previous faith?

I didn’t leave a previous faith, so this doesn’t apply.

10.) If there were one thing you could change or eliminate about your faith, what would it be?

I’d go back to the biblical story about Abraham and Sarah and Ishmael and Isaac, and hit Abraham and Sarah upside the head. In the story, they behave abominably. I’m not a big believer in the literalness of biblical stories, but that still doesn’t keep me from arguing about the many stories that I think demonstrate bad choices, wrong-headedness, “lessons” I disagree with and versions of a god that does not match my sense of what a Deity would be. (Ditto the Sacrifice of Isaac story. No caring God that I can imagine would ask this of a parent. Not even as a test. It’s sick.) Jews and Arabs have so much in common; we’re fellow Semites; cousins. Many customs are the same, like the prohibition about pork. I wish relationships between Jews and Arabs were better, and it may be silly, but if Abraham had acted more in line with Jewish principles of Tzadakah (charity, justice, righteousness), maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation today. (Am I joking? I’m not sure…)


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