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?
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.
4. Do you believe in a god(s)?
Yes, wholeheartedly. Judaism is monotheistic, meaning that we believe in one God, not a pantheon of gods like the peoples of the ancient world (See ancient Egypt, Babylonia, etc.). In fact, the central prayer of Judaism is the Sh’ma Yisroel – a prayer affirming the oneness of God, and it is recited four times a day.
5. Do you have a concept of “salvation”? If so, how is that obtained?
Well, there’s actually not that much in the Bible about the afterlife, so we are left to trust in God a lot on that score. Now, there are several theories – for example, in the afterlife, Moses sits and teaches Torah (Bible) all day. For good people, this is heaven, but for evil people, it’s hell. Others would speculate that reincarnation is the way to go, because each soul has a purpose – to bring light to the world. If the soul hasn’t reached that purpose, then it comes back with a bit more of God’s message until it has done its work. Me personally? I’m content to face God with my deeds from life. If I live the life He wants me to, then I will take whatever afterlife there is.
6. What are some ways that believers of your faith practice on a daily basis?
The daily prayers consist of three services: shakharit (morning) mincha (afternoon) and Ma’riv (evening). As many of our classmates have noticed, I keep Kosher. It’s a set of dietary laws, but it goes beyond just not eating pork or shellfish. To me, keeping kosher means that I don’t take a bite of food unless I’ve thought about God. Keeping kosher keeps my obligation to God at the forefront of my mind.
7. What is/are some common mis-conception(s) about your faith? Can you share an explanation to clarify this misconception?
In the Bible (Old Testament to Christians), there are a lot of references to making animal sacrifices as atonement for sins. This was a different time in Jewish history, and after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Rabbis made a legal ruling that acts of kindness, charity and peace would forever supersede sacrifices as atonement for sin.
Further, Judaism doesn’t teach that you have to be Jewish to attain salvation. In fact, it’s easier for a non-Jew to attain salvation than for a Jew. The belief is that God holds Jews to a higher standard that we are obliged to uphold, while non-Jews have only to uphold the basic laws of humanity (No murder, theft, rape, etc.). This actually presents a problem for would be converts; it’s better to remain an ethical non-Jew than to convert and be less than fully committed. Hence, we are not a proselytizing religion.
Also, see the Family Guy episode “Wish Upon a Weinstein” for further stereotypes and for a good laugh. We’ll see if the “Good with money” paradigm holds up when we get to Finance class. :)
8. Is there a verse or passage you’d like to pass along to the CCMBA class as encouragement for completing our degree?
Jeremiah 22:3 “Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness and deliver one who has been robbed from the hand of the oppressor. Do not mistreat the widow, the orphan or the stranger among you”.
While we are in school and in relatively junior positions compared to the ones we will hold later in life, it’s easy to be ethical. It’s easy to say to yourself “I’ll never build towers of junk bonds just to sell off slices to investors who don’t know better”, but when we reach the post-MBA career point in our lives, will we remember that? Will we use our positions as Leaders of Consequence to mistreat widows, orphans and strangers, or will we use business to do something good? Maybe that’s not motivation to complete the degree per se, but it is motivation to remember that we will influence the future of business and hence the future of the world when we do finish.