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Dear MMB

Dear MMB:

I came across your blog accidentally, and I love it. Your ten commandments of blogging is what every blogger should do by...

I have a question and I hope you will answer it. I saw the picture of the wedding band, which was rather plain. I am an Orthodox Jew, and we wear plain bands with no decoration at all. That symbolizes the unity of the couple. There are no breaks in the band, one smooth piece and it is round = eternal.

I was wondering if there is a similarity in this matter? I think you would be quite surprised at the similarities we have, in our religions, or at least for those of us who are Orthodox.

Thank you for reading this, and hopefully responding. Good luck with the blog. It is one that is worthy of being read.

~Chaya



Latter-day Saints have always felt a special kinship with Jews. We see in the history of the Jewish people precedents and reflections of our own history. We identify with the difficulties and blessings of being set apart, of believing that, as a people, we are bound by covenant to bear witness of God regardless of the misunderstandings and persecutions which may follow. And we hear in the words of the ancient prophets of Israel messages for our own time, of encouragement, admonition, and affirmation.

Like our Jewish friends, we do not believe that one can separate religious life from secular. God is involved in human affairs, and holds His people to the standards He has set. The scriptures, which we study in private, with our families, and in nearly all religious activities, contain direction and laws which are intended to mark God’s people as uniquely His. While we live in countries all over the world, and are subject to the laws and practices of those nations, we recognize first and last that we answer to God in all matters, both those of state as well as those of personal conduct.

The family is central to God’s plan of happiness for His children, and both Jews and Latter-day Saints place special emphasis on the importance of raising children in righteousness and faith. Both religions believe that women are particularly privileged and duty-bound to care for and rear their children, and while women are able to contribute to their communities and the world at large, their sacred obligations are first to God, and second to their families.

The Sabbath, nearly lost to the distractions of the secular world, still holds great prominence in the lives of both Jews and Latter-day Saints. Practitioners of both faiths go to great lengths to prepare for the Sabbath, doing everything they can to make it a holy day. Some years ago, our family lived next door to a Rabbi and his family. One winter, a storm knocked down the fence between our two yards, and the men tried to find a time when they could work together to repair the damage. We were all amused to realize that, because both were devout in their Sabbath worship, the only time they could work together was during the weekday evenings; neither was available at the same time on the weekend! This was January in Seattle, and it was essentially dark by the time the men returned from work. But they still preferred to work in the dark and the cold, rather than desecrate the Sabbath.

Latter-day Saints have great respect for the moral mandates contained in the Law of Moses. As do our Jewish friends, we do not believe we are free to pick and choose which commandments we will keep and which we will ignore. We honor and revere Moses as the great lawgiver, created in the very image of God. We see in his leading Israel out of Egypt the symbolism of removing God’s covenant people from the bonds of an evil and idolatrous world.

We also recognize, however, that as in the case of ancient Israel, that world has the potential to offer refuge. For a time, Egypt was a place of safety for the family of Jacob. The Egyptians respected Joseph, who in turn answered to God, and Jacob’s family was protected and blessed as a result.

However, just as the day came when there arose a Pharaoh who “knew not Joseph,” we in modern times find ourselves increasingly alienated from a world that seems to have forgotten God. Perhaps the worst manifestation of the evil that comes from this forgetfulness took place during the extermination programs of Germany’s Third Reich, where more than six million Jews were killed out of irrational anti-Semitism. It is difficult to conceive of an explanation for such atrocities; in fact many Jews (and others) used the Holocaust as the basis for questioning whether God had abandoned His people.

However, Latter-day Saints are more likely to agree with Rabbi Rosen, who has said that ‘wherever there is evil it must try to rid itself of that which bears witness of God.’

Latter-day Saint history contains a small sample of the kind of persecution Jews have been subjected to for millennia. Our people followed one whom we revered as a prophet, and were abused, assaulted, even killed for their faith. Eventually, early Latter-day Saints were driven from their lands and homes into the wilderness, where they learned through trials and suffering to trust in God as they sought for a place of safety.

That safety is found, for both Jews and Latter-day Saints alike, in the covenants we make with God. In fact, we understand that a ‘promised land’ really means a ‘covenant land’, or a land set aside by God for the inheritance of His chosen people. Latter-day Saints believe that there are two groups who are defined as “chosen”: First, those who are direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and are heirs by birth to the blessings attached to that lineage, and second, those who choose God and accept the obligations of the Abrahamic Covenant.

We believe that as a result of the Diaspora, the blood of Israel is found in all the nations of the world, and that through worthy adherence to those covenants which bind man to God all the nations of the earth are blessed by that genetic relationship. While we realize that, as a church established in a Gentile nation, we therefore have Gentile status, we also consider ourselves the children of Abraham, related by blood and faith to our Jewish brothers and sisters.

Perhaps the most significant commonality Latter-day Saints share with Jews is the temple. For both faiths, the temple represents God’s greatest gift to His children. In the temple, the highest ordinances of worship are performed, and our allegiance and devotion to God are declared and renewed. We understand the heartache that Jews have carried for nearly two thousand years, that of the loss and desecration of their temple. Twice, our people constructed temples, only to have them taken from us through evil and persecution. Like Nehemiah’s people, we constructed the temple in Nauvoo, Illinois, with a hammer in one hand and a sword in the other.

We look forward with great anticipation to the day when Israel is finally gathered to their rightful place of inheritance, and can rebuild their temple to once again commune, unmolested and unafraid, with their God.

While there are differences in our beliefs, predominantly the fact that Latter-day Saints are Christians, we celebrate and embrace those ancient ties that bind us to modern Israel. Our desire for our Jewish friends is that which they express at the conclusion of their Sabbath blessings:

“May the Lord bless thee and keep thee; May the Lord cause His countenance to shine upon thee; and be gracious unto thee: May the Lord lift up His countenance towards thee and give thee peace.”


DeNae is a Music teacher, composer, arranger; director of the Las Vegas Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus. She is also a free-lance writer; one published book, "The Accidental Gringo".

She says that her writing style is "essayist", which means she, like Norman Mailor and Moses, is incapable of uploading digital pictures to her blog.

She has been a Seminary, Institute and Gospel Doctrine instructor for 19 years. DeNae has lived in Seattle; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and currently lives in Las Vegas with the cute guy she married, 24 years ago and her 4 kids.

You can find more insightful and hilarious posts by DeNae on her blog, My Real Life Was Backordered.

 
Enjoy shopping for quality baby clothing at TradeTang.com

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