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Mormons and Jews -- A Shared Heritage



I'm not usually envious of a group of people fasting, repenting, refraining from bathing and intimacy and focusing on all my sins, and forgiving my enemies.

But I must say, I love the Jewish, "Day of Atonement" -- Yom Kippur, and I'm a Mormon. I kind of want to join in. I like the symbolism and ritual that reinforces my beliefs in the atonement. I read an interesting article in The Washington Post about Yom Kippur.

It is the holiest day of the year on the Jewish calendar. It's the climax of 10 High Holy Days or "Days of Awe", that begins with the day of Rosh Hashanah -- the day God writes the names and fates of all people in the Book of Life. 

Then begins a week of forgiving and repenting. Forgive others as you seek God's forgiveness of your own sins. I have been working on this -- and thinking about my past year. Forgiving others that have been more than devilish is not that easy. And then there is charity -- giving to those less fortunate.

This  Awe culminates in Yom Kippur, a  25-hour fast that begins on the eve of Yom Kippur, at sundown. On this day, Jews do not wear leather shoes and they forgo bathing and intimacy. They spend the day at temples, synagogues and home -- praying, fasting and repenting. At the close of the day, they hope to stand absolved before God. He will then seal his verdict in the Book of Life. 

You get to start a new year, with a clean slate, your soul renewed. It's a week of compassion, repentance and forgiveness of others and yourself -- a time to account for your past year.

These Holy Days date back to the beginning of time. You can read about it in Leviticus.

The High Priest would perform sacred rites in the Temple at Jerusalem. (Moses did the same thing in the Tabernacle.) Incense was burned and animals sacrificed as sin offerings.



Yearning for my own day of atonement celebration, I decided to go up to the temple and participate in an endowment session on Yom Kippur. As I sat there, I reflected on the ancient temple ceremonies in Jerusalem, with the High Priest. I thought about the similarities and the differences. Mormon temple ceremonies are based on the ancient ones, when Moses was commanded to build the tabernacle, a traveling temple of sorts.

I have a good friend who is Jewish -- we talk about these similarities. We can share our faiths and find that we have much in common. We both pray to the same God, and he answers both our prayers. I believe that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (who became Israel) are our common heritage. She comes through Judah, I come through his brother, Joseph. We honor and respect each other.

Of course, neither of us sacrifice animals as was required by the early Israelites, but we do offer to sacrifice our time and talents to do good. Mormons focus on Jehovah, Jesus Christ, the lamb that replaced all those that were sacrificed in the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem. The law of Moses was fulfilled -- that part of animal sacrifice -- when Christ became the sacrifice. I know it seems archaic -- but it was an archaic time. In fact, the incense was a nice way of covering up all that smell that must have accompanied animal sacrifice.

Hubby and I went up to the Temple together, in the morning, on the Day of Atonement. While our Jewish brothers and sisters of the House of Israel were fasting and repenting on Yom Kippur, we repented, sacrificed our time and served in the Temple of Our God.

The Sacramento Temple, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:
Model of The Temple in Jerusalem, King Solomon





Learn why Mormons build temples here: "Why We Build Temples"







Deila is the mom of five kids who looks for the deeper meaning of life’s joys and struggles on planet earth. You can find her in: Eve out of the Garden.


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