It was a sunny Saturday and I was sitting in the synagogue with my friend Sam…
We very rarely get sunshine in the UK which made it even that much more glorious. It was my first Jewish service and I was slightly nervous. Sam and I both arrived slightly late. I drove but he had to walk 40 minutes to the synagoge because he is not allowed to drive during the passover. I was welcomed by smiling faces and ushered to where I needed to be. It felt like I was in one of our LDS services with how cordial and close everyone seemed to be. The service, mostly in Hebrew, was very interesting. I tried to soak in the spirit of the meeting and the love and dedication people were expressing through their worship. I was touched. I felt like I was in the temple with the symbolism, set up of the room and the number of elderly people sitting next to me. It was an enriching experience and one I hope to experience again in the near future. I am privilged that Sam let me celebrate the Passover (Pesach) with him.
In the foyer I was greeted by a pair of Messianic Jews. They spoke to me in whispers saying that they had to be very careful about what they told people. They said that they were reading rabbinical texts a few years ago and realized that Christians had it completely wrong and that….yes here is the familiar story all Latter Day Saints know….no church was correct…but they decided that they still accepted Jesus as the Messiah whilst feeling the need to worship as Jews. I was slightly throne back and though to myself, “right…so you are a Christian worshipping in a synagogue then right?”
Sam, being rather orthodox, told me that we had gone to a more liberal synagogue and it was more anglicized then the ones he usually attends in North London. He said that the Messianic worshippers I had met in the hallway would probably not be consistently allowed in the more orthodox worship services. I personally felt they were a bit forceful in a covert and non-verbal manner…as though they were trying to proselytize.
Sam and I both have many things in common:
1) We are both studying medicine to pick up chicks. just kiddin
2) Like a pair of old men we talk about the good ol’ days when people were concerned with morality.
3) We both enjoy chatting about the middle east and religion. Our favourite questions is “If you were the leader of Israel or Palestine for a day…what would you do to make peace?”
As anyone of you who have tried this knows, you end up going round and round in circles.
This week is the Jewish Passover and tomorrow I will be going around to Sam’s for a meal. I am not allowed to bring Jello Salad as he said that:
1) It isnt Kosher.
2) I am not allowed to eat a dessert whilst eating my main meal. 🙂
Sam, like most of us on Mormon Matters & Mormon Stories, loves his faith but faces doubts. We both have doubts about what we believe but decide that we are going to stick with it because it makes us better men and enriches our lives. I guess this is why they call it faith. He says that he has always felt the title “peculiar people” really describes the hardships he has felt with trying to fit into a secular society whilst practising his faith. I think we as Mormons are not alone in having to deal with difficult history, traditions and challenges to our faith.
Perhaps as Latter Day Saints we could remember this Passover how God does not forget his children whatever faith they may be and that he listens to our prayers, our hopes and our fears no matter how lost or alone we may feel as individuals or as a people.
Shabbat Shalom everyone.
Wonderful, Stephen. Shabbat Shalom.
No dessert during the main meal? Bummer! Although judging from Mormon family reunions, I think jello may be considered more of a side dish than a dessert.
Thanks for the post Stephen. I appreciate the multicultural perspective.
I don’t think having “doubts” is necessary, could it be a choice? I don’t know the answer, just wondering out loud.
Thanks for the story Stephen. I also met some Messianic Jews while attending my last Branch in the heart of hasidic Brooklyn. They would just walk into our meetings and start participating – then leave. Like you, I found it surprisingly comforting to meet people so devout in their faith and culture but still inwardly doubting and questioning.
I wish that more people were as accepting of the Jewish faith as you are. Yasher Koach, and Shabbat Shalom from California!!!
It is pretty normal in the Jewish culture to have questions. With questions (maybe, you can call them doubts) come answers. The entire Torah Commentary, The Talmud is made up of questions and answers. Sometimes heated discussions and disagreement.
In fact, many Christians mistake the confrontations with Jesus by various Pharisees, scribes and whatnot in the Gospel as this strange, challenging, disrespectful behavior. I see it as pretty normal behavior and part of the process of determining what one believes and how they arrived at that belief.
I think that Jello brand is Kosher, but not all “gelatins” are, in fact. Many are derived from pork products.
Glad you had a great experience!
I enjoyed reading about this experience. My attempts to post have lately been thwarted, so I will keep it short and see if this one makes it.
Rigel – looks like you’re in!
Actually, if your friend keeps kosher, it’s likely that he couldn’t eat anything that you could bring. It’s not just a matter of the food you eat–it has to do with combinations and even preparation. The previous tenants in my apartment were Orthodox; we’ve got a couple cabinets, and one has a “Meat” sticker on it, while the other has a “Dairy” sticker. Basically, as I understand it, not only do you not mix milk and meat–you have a separate set of pots and pans for your milk and your meat dishes. It is impressive to me what faithful people do to establish their relationship with God (my people included).
Sam B. is right. Things must be prepared in a Kosher kitchen. The separate dishes and pots and pans also applies to Passover, when another two sets of everything are supposed to be used.
Another interesting thing is that Steve used the word “Shabbos” which is an Ashkenazi Hebrew pronunciation. the letter Tav without the dot in the middle is pronounced “s”. In the Sephardi, it is pronounced t same as the Tav with the dot, which is called a Dagesh.
The Ashkenazi were European Jews while the Sephardi are Spanish and southern European and African Jews.
WOW…you guys no so much. I am still learning and love listening to it all. There is so much to take in. Did you celebrate passover Jeff?
Sam has seen the comments and he is quite chuffed with the readership here and knowledge that people have.
We had a mini-passover, not much ceremony, but heavy on the food. And we had a lamb, which Jews do not eat during passover.
Stephen Wellington: Whoa, “chuffed” is a new one for me. So, I looked it up, and it can either mean:
chuffed1 –adjective British Informal. delighted; pleased; satisfied. OR
chuffed2 –adjective British Informal. annoyed; displeased; disgruntled.
So, is it really used both ways to mean opposite things? I assume you meant the positive version or you would not have shared his comment, right?
lol….I have never heard of it in the negative so you are right to assume I mean that I am delighted. 🙂 Ask Andrew Ainsworth about the new word I taught him recently. A bit rude but quintessentially British. lol