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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 Wiccan. 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!

11. ) Does your faith require certain types of clothing be worn or avoided?

No, not really. There are many different levels of observance among Jews. For nearly all Jews, there are no restrictions during daily life. Most require that, while praying in a synagogue, men wear a skullcap called a kippah or yarmulke (“yaaam’ aka”). Women may wear a kippah, but do not have to. Many also wear a prayer shawl (“tallit”) while praying in a synagogue. Some Orthodox men wear a yarmulke all the time. The most unchanged denominations such as Hasidism do have other requirements, like for men, wearing a prayer shawl all the time under clothing, using tefillin (straps on the arm and a small box on the forehead containing biblical verses)while saying certain prayers; for women, modest clothing, etc. But that’s only for a small sub-set of Jews, what my family always referred to as “super-Jews.”

12.) Does your faith restrict you from eating certain foods?

Again, it depends on your level of observance. Yes, there are foods deemed “kosher” and “traif” (not kosher), and food that may not be eaten together. Pork and shellfish are traditionally forbidden, and milk and meat may not be eaten at the same meal. In the world I travel in, most Jews do not “keep kosher” at all. Some denominations say that these restrictions were based on food safety issues that are no longer relevant. Many say that following these restrictions is voluntary but encouraged, as a way of demonstrating “intention” and self-discipline, which can help one act correctly in more important matters as well. Other people believe it is an important part of their religion.

I myself don’t keep kosher at all, except during Passover, when I follow the guidelines for keeping kosher for Passover, following restrictions designed to remind us of what our ancestors had to eat while fleeing from slavery in the desert. I use separate dishes at this time, too. I do this because for me, making a “big deal” out of the holidays and following certain rituals increases the “special-ness” of the holidays. For me, rituals don’t have meanings in and of themselves, but they gain deep meaning over time, as you perform them as a child with your family over and over again, and positive family memories become fused to the memory of doing those things with your family, and so they become meaningful in a personal way. This is why I don’t believe in “letting children choose” their religion when they grow up. I don’t have any objection to someone rejecting or changing their religion, but if you’re not raised with some traditions and rituals, whatever they are – you can even make up your own as a family! – the traditions won’t have any meaning for you.

13.) What advice would you give to someone who’s considering joining your faith?

I don’t know. I guess find a synagogue with a rabbi and community that you relate to and that/who reflects your beliefs. If you’re planning to be a “synagogue Jew,” that is. You can practice all of Judaism without even going to shul (synagogue) at all. And ask questions, challenge stuff that doesn’t make sense, and argue. That’s what Jews do. J

14.) What is your faith’s most widely celebrated holiday, if any? (Brief descriptions welcome.)

Most widely-celebrated holiday? Passover. Think of it like another Thanksgiving, in a way. The whole extended family gets together. Guests are invited, including (and sometimes especially) non-Jewish friends. Everyone sits at the table and reads aloud from the “Haggadah,” a booklet that describes the Exodus, story of the Jews escaping slavery in Egypt. Four glasses (or at least, four swallows) of wine are drunk. The youngest child(ren) ask The Four Questions, which prompt the rest to explain the holiday.

Many families create their own version of the Haggadah to reflect their views of what they value most. The Seder can last ten minutes or more than an hour. Then everyone eats a meal with certain traditional food meant to remind us of parts of the story. At the end, most families have a tradition involving the children hiding or having to look for a hidden piece of Matzoh (the flat, unleavened bread that is an iconic symbol of the holiday.) Going to synagogue or services is not part of the holiday.

The holiday lasts for seven or eight days. Many families do two seders, on the first two nights. Some people keep certain food restrictions for the duration of the holiday.
Passover is probably the most beloved holiday. The most important are the High Holy Days: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. And the Sabbath.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-10-26 01:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moondancedryad.livejournal.com
I enjoyed reading. What a lovely interview.


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