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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!

15.) What are the taboos relating to your faith?

Taboos? I don’t know. Many, many Jews ignore kosher laws, don’t do daily prayers, or keep the Sabbath or any of that stuff, and still consider themselves, and would be considered, “good Jews.” I think being a “good Jew” is synonymous with being a good person, a kind and considerate person, so anything that goes against that – being mean, selfish, uncharitable, dishonest, etc. -- would be the most “taboo.” There’s a word, “mensch” – it means of person of integrity and honor. That’s the goal. The rest is gravy.

16.) Does your faith encourage belief in an afterlife? (i.e. heaven, hell, purgatory, nirvana, reincarnation, etc.)

Afterlife is not an important part of Judaism. Judaism is overwhelmingly concerned with life here and now.

17.) Does your faith encourage belief in more than one deity?

No. However, belief in any God at all is not required at all to be a “good Jew.”

18.) What healing methods are practiced by your faith? (Brief descriptions encouraged.)

Healing methods? Call a doctor! J

19.) Does your faith embrace many sects? If so, feel free to name and briefly describe the differences.

I wouldn’t call them “sects,” but the main branches or denominations of Judaism are Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. A person can and often does switch easily among them.
Orthodox are the most traditional. A sub-division of Orthodox are those that I would call a sect, the Hasidic Jews, are the ones with the hats and black coats. Most Orthodox (in my part of the world, at least) are “Modern Orthodox.”

I grew up Reform (not “Reformed” but “Reform” because it’s still and always changing and adapting), but since switched to Conservative. Reform are the most “liberal.” Services are almost entirely in English, often with musical accompaniment, and almost no one keeps kosher. Many Reform Jews only go to synagogue (if at all) on High Holy Days. Many Reform Jews would describe themselves as “secular Jews.”

There’s a wide range of observance among all branches.

20.) If you are part of a bi-faith marriage, briefly describe an incident you had with a conflict and how you dealt with it…

My husband and I are both Jewish, but he grew up (Modern) Orthodox and I grew up Reform, so we joke that we’re a mixed marriage. When we were dating, he came with me to my synagogue on High Holy Days one day, and I went to his the next day. At my synagogue, there was an organ playing music, we all sat together and the service was in English. Later, he told me that he felt like he was in a church. I went with him to his synagogue. The men and women sat separately, the men below and the women upstairs. The whole thing was in Hebrew, chanted by a cantor on a bimah (a low platform with a table to hold the Torah) in the center of the room, instead of in front. I felt so removed and apart from my then-fiance – as I was! I had such fond memories of standing at synagogue between my mother and father and grabbing their hands and feeling really connected. (Not that I ever “enjoyed” services. Long and boring!) When we got married, we agreed to “split the difference” and joined a Conservative synagogue. It was very helpful that we had a daughter. Orthodox synagogues are not as egalitarian and Conservative and Reform. (Our synagogue has had female rabbis and female cantors.)

It’s interesting that this survey doesn’t ask if one believes in (a) god or God or Diety. I’m going to answer it, anyway. J

I usually don’t really believe in God or any afterlife at all. Certainly not a God that’s involved in the details of our life. If I believe in a God at all, it would be First Cause – that is, something had to create the first particle of matter or energy in the universe. We can trace our solar system back, we can trace our galaxy back, we can propose theories about the Big Bang. But none of our cosmology can understand how this all began. Or comprehend that it might not have had a beginning. How did the first particle of matter or energy come to be? If I think of God, that’s it – First Cause.
More often, I believe in the “god” that is the best part of ourselves, the part of us that reaches the highest moral level we can. If I were to pray (which I don’t), I would be praying to that part of myself that can help me become the best person I could be.

I also strongly believe in noticing, appreciating and enjoying this life to the fullest. I frequently try to stop and notice the beautiful things around me – nice weather, nature. I try to appreciate that I have a healthy body. Because I believe that this life is all there is, I don’t want to miss anything or take it for granted. I don’t want to sleep-walk through it. My goal is to be “present,” “in the moment.” Judaism actually is a useful component of that.

The Old Testament God is often portrayed as cruel, vengeful, and petty. A projection of the times, and not relevant to how we think today. If I were to think about a God at all, it’s a God that’s patient, accepting, and loving. The piece of god that’s in all of us.
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