Judaism – Interfaith Series – Article # 2

Every year as I child I remember watching “The Ten Commandments” and seeing Moses, played by Charlton Heston, work to free the Israelites from the Egyptians and walk up Mount Sanai to see the burning bush.  It was also the perfect time for my parents to remind me and my younger brother to “honor thy father and they mother.”

While the movie is entertaining, it’s also a good reminder of what some of our classmates practice and believe in their faith.  The movie tells the story of the Jewish Passover, which this year will be while we are in the India residency (April 6-14).   I’ve reached out to Andy Domenico to share more on his Jewish faith in our second installment of the Interfaith series.

1. What is your religion or faith?

Jewish

2. Were you born into this faith or did you choose to convert to this faith?  If you were born into the faith, describe how your faith was developed as a child.  If you chose to convert to this faith describe what drew you to this faith.

So….the PC way to say this is “I wasn’t always as observant as I am now”.  I went through some difficult times in the last few years, and these experiences have served to deepen my faith, and make me more aware of my obligations to God and why I am Jewish.  Nowadays, I am more observant of my faith that I was, but I’m not yet fully observant of all the commandments that God has put upon the Jewish people.

3. What is/are the core belief(s) of this faith?

One of the first things that the Bible teaches us is that man was made in God’s image.  Now, this is not taken to mean that God has a body, 2 legs, 2 arms, etc, but rather that mankind has the ability to reason and to know good from evil.  Because we have this knowledge and ability to reason, we have a responsibility to do good with our lives.  Now, there are several schools of thought within Judaism, with some emphasizing strict adherence to laws, and others seeing law as archaic, and emphasizing purely moral goals.

I’m a Conservative Jew, so I believe that ritual laws are still binding (For example, Kosher dietary laws), but I have an overriding obligation to become more ethical and to be devoted to causes of social justice.  Also, I believe that laws can be updated from the original in response to changing times.  For example, Orthodoxy would not permit a woman to be ordained as a rabbi, but I am perfectly fine with having a female rabbi.

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Dubai: Capital of Kerala

keralaDuring a visit to Dubai, it was hard to ignore the people from the state of Kerala in India. They were everywhere from the hotel lounge to the shops we visited – why our program has 3 people too (including me)! You turn on the radio, you hear at least 3 radio channels playing malayalam songs (malayalam is the language spoken by the people of Kerala).

The Touristy Stuff: To those who came in late, Kerala is in the southernmost part of India; it literally means the “Land of Coconut Trees” and when you land into Kochi (the most popular city in Kerala) you would not be surprised why it is called so – it’s almost like a carpet of coconut trees as far as the eye can see (see pic). The tropical conditions here are due to the relatively abundant rainfall (retative to the rest of India). Kerala is home to some very scenic spots like the Punnamada Lake in Alleppey to the Tea Gardens in hilly area of Munnar. Being a coastal state, it boasts of a lot of beaches – the best being Kovalam Beach. But a visit to Kerala is one of paradoxes – Temples, Churches, Mosques along side red communist flags and pictures of Marx, Lenin and Che Guevara.

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