Welcome to the first of the Women of Faith Series!
These women contributing have poured their heart and souls into these posts wanting to share their beliefs with you. I welcome them with open arms and I pray that you will as well.
A little about the series, I asked them all the same 12 questions to shed light on the beliefs of their faith and their personal journey.
This is meant to be educational to expand your view of what others believe. I ask you to be respectful in any comments you leave and really start a conversation into exploring each of these faiths. Though you may not agree with their faith or beliefs, let's respect them by making this a safe place for them to share.
Let's welcome our first blogger Dara from Not in Jersey!!
1. Please give an overview of your faith and what it believes.
I am Jewish. There are various movements within Judaism with varying beliefs about the traditions of the religion. I personally am not qualified to speak about what every Jewish person believes, and Judaism doesn’t have mandatory beliefs that every Jewish person must hold. There are however 13 Principles of Faith written by a famous medieval Jewish scholar, Rambam, which many consider the minimum requirements of Jewish belief. They are:
God is one and unique
God is incorporeal
God is eternal
Prayer is to be directed to G-d alone and to no other
The words of the prophets are true
Moses’ prophecies are true, and Moses was the greatest of the prophets
The Written Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) and Oral Torah (teachings now contained in the Talmud and other writings) were given to Moses
There will be no other Torah
God knows the thoughts and deeds of men
God will reward the good and punish the wicked
The Messiah will come
The dead will be resurrected
2. Was there a specific time of reason why you believe what you do?
I am Jewish because my mother is Jewish. I personally began observing more of the laws of Judaism when I was in college.
3. Does your faith have religious books? Please name them all if more than one and give a brief description of its purpose/origins.
We have the Torah, which is the five books of Moses and is our written law. We also have the books of the prophets and what is known as “the writings” which contain additional teachings. We also have what is called the “oral Torah,” which is an explanation of the scriptures and how to interpret them which was originally passed along orally and is now written into what is called the Mishnah. Additional commentaries on the Mishnah are written into what is called the Talmud. These commentaries continue to be studied and discussed by Jewish people today.
4. How do you put your faith into practice everyday?
Judaism has rules and practices for most every aspect of daily life, from the food we eat and don’t eat, the way we dress, and how we observe the holidays to how we treat others. For me, my being Jewish is always with me but it is mostly put into practice by how my week revolves around preparing for and observing the Sabbath day.
5. Do you believe in Heaven? How do you get there? If you don't, what do you believe happens after you die?
Judaism does believe in an afterlife but it is not really understood what the afterlife will be. I don’t dwell much on the thought of the afterlife, but I suppose I believe that there is the possibility of a reward for good people after death.
6. What do you/faith believe about the human condition? Is being a good person enough according to your religion?
A big part of Judaism is love and kindness towards others and there are many laws about how to treat people. Being a good person is important, but it is also important to do so according to the laws of Judaism.
7. Who do you/your faith believe Jesus is? What do you know about him?
Jesus is not a part of Judaism. I believe he was a person who had many followers, but I don’t believe he was a god or the Messiah.
8. Who do you believe God is? If you believe in God, what is he like? (Base this on your religious beliefs) If you don't believe in God, why not?
I believe that God is the creator of the world and that there is only one God. God does not have a body and cannot be represented in a physical form. We believe that God is everywhere and all powerful, knows everything, and is just and merciful.
9. Have you had to defend your beliefs? What happened?
Growing up, I was one of the only Jewish kids in my school and therefore I was pitted as either the token Jew, or the kid to pick on. I had to explain a lot of things and sometimes felt that I should not be the one person to explain everything about Judaism to all of the other kids! I remember one time in particular when I was told I would not go to heaven because I did not believe in Jesus. As an adult, I was also asked why I could not set aside my beliefs for one week in order to do something I normally could not do.
10. How has your faith/beliefs changed you?
My religion has made me who I am!
11. Have you ever questioned your faith? How did you question it? And did you get the answers you were searching for to keep believing?
The question I most often ask is why, if there is a God, do bad things happen in the world? The answer I have come to accept is that only God knows why things happen and God has a plan for the world that people don’t understand. It takes a lot of faith to accept an answer that is so difficult to clearly see!
12. What is something that you want to tell people about your faith?
I want people to know that Judaism is a religion that focuses on love of God and love of other people. For more information I highly recommend the website http://jewfaq.org. I often consult it when I have questions or I need help explaining things to others!
I am a stay-at-home-mom to three great kids who blogs about our adventures living in Kansas.
Check out her blog, Not In Jersey.
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