Question:

Hi,

My name is Bailey, and I’m a year 11 currently studying VCE Unit 2: Religion and Society. We are currently working on a class project where we are to interview a local person of a different faith who has a strong affiliation with their religion. We are learning about religious experience and how it shapes who we are.

Due to my location, I don’t have access to many people of different faiths, as I live in a predominately Christian area. Hence why i have come to this website in search of some answers.

Many of these questions are quite personal about your own faith, and if you chose not answer them, I’m not fussed. If you do choose to answer my questions, I would be incredibly thankful. Could please provide me with enough of a response to provide me with a rough total of 500 words? More than that would be welcomed greatly.

1. What lead you to your religion?
2. Why is your religion important to you?
3. What rituals do you consider important within your religious tradition?
4. Have you always belonged to your religious tradition, or did you come to it later in life?
5. Have receiving the sacraments of your religion meant a great deal to you?
6. What have been the highpoints for you that your religious tradition has offered?
7. What life experiences (good/bad) have impacted on your identity?
8. Have there been times when your religious tradition has let you down? What were the circumstances?
9. Have their been times in your life when your religious tradition has given you great inspiration?
10. Do you pray? If yes, how often? What effect does it have?
11. What were some of your earliest memories of your association with your religious tradition?
12. What sort of schools have you attended? Were they religion based? Which order conducted the school? If so, how was your religious identity shaped by this school?
13. Have you ever had association or experience with another religion? If yes, please explain.
14. How has your religion helped you through important life events? Please provide an example
15. Are there any particular parts of your religion that have more impact on you? (example, you might find prayer has the most powerful impact on you in regards to your faith)
16. What was your journey like becoming a Rabbi? Was it something you always wanted to do, a family-tradition sort of thing or something that came to you later in life?
17. Does the knowledge of persecution of people of the Jewish faith through different times in history impact your identity? Does it shape the way you affirm your faith?
18. Are there any parts of your faith that alter the way you live? Would you ideally change these?

Your response would be greatly appreciated, and of great interest to me. I’ve never personally spoken to a Jewish person of their faith, and I don’t personally know any Jewish people.

Thanks, Bailey.

Answer:

Hi. Thank you for contacting us. The questions have been answered by an 18 year old girl who is very religious.

1. What lead you to your religion?

4. Have you always belonged to your religious tradition, or did you come to it later in life?

16. What was your journey like becoming a Rabbi? Was it something you always wanted to do, a family-tradition sort of thing or something that came to you later in life?

Most of my life I have grown up religious, as it was my parents who made the journey to find Judaism. After they had emigrated from Johannesburg, South Africa, where they lead a very traditional non-religious lifestyle, I was sent to a Jewish kindergarten that catered to this particular kind of crowd. Apparently, I was very enthusiastic about the whole ‘Jewish’ thing, which lead one of the teachers, who is religious herself, to recommend that I attend a religious school instead of the local public school. And so, in 2004, I started Prep in a local religious girl’s school. This lead my parents to become more involved in religion, and found that many questions that they had always wondered about were suddenly answered.
2. Why is your religion important to you?

My religion provides me with a very unique clarity and sense of purpose. The Torah (our Bible) is a guide for me in any situation that I am faced with and within our communities, we have Rabbis that are there for us whenever we are in need, and will answer our questions with love, care and concern. Our morals and ethics are very strong and our values system is truly something that I am proud of.
3. What rituals do you consider important within your religious tradition?

The following two rituals (out of many) are extremely important to me:

Tznius (Modesty): This may be a little difficult to understand, but in Judaism, we feel very strongly about protecting the respect for the body of a woman. We dress in a very modest, refined and dignified way while still looking good. We ensure to always wear skirts that cover the knees and our elbows and collarbones too are covered (no matter the weather). I do not feel restricted by this, I am proud to always be covered and looking dignified.

Shabbat (Sabbath): On Shabbat, there are many things that we refrain from doing. This includes no cooking, driving, access to technology, direct use of electricity (we use time switches so that we have hot food and light). Over Friday and Saturday, we eat three meals together with our families and friends. We have extra praying and it is quality time spent without the distractions of the everyday hustle and bustle.

5. Have receiving the sacraments of your religion meant a great deal to you?
6. What have been the highpoints for you that your religious tradition has offered?

Throughout the year, we have many special festivals in which we further connect to G-d through many different ways. These festivals all serve different purposes many of which are the highlights of our year from the youngest age. A more well-known of these, for example is Passover
7. What life experiences (good/bad) have impacted on your identity?
8. Have there been times when your religious tradition has let you down? What were the circumstances?

No.
9. Have there been times in your life when your religious tradition has given you great inspiration?

Yes. All the time. There are many ways in which we have constant access to further inspiration eg: books, lectures, and teachers. We are very focused on each person finding a source of inspiration that speaks to them which they can use to build up on. An example of this is my father. Being a Veterinarian, nature is something that has always fascinated him, and since he has begun practicing Judaism religiously, nature is truly something that brings him to tears. He is actually about to put out a children’s book titled “G-d Created Skyscrapers’. The entire book is a whole lot of major inventions that were a result of nature’s inspiration which is ultimately G-d’s Creation.

As well as this, we place a lot of emphasis on Divine Providence, recognizing G-d’s involvement in our everyday activities. This means that even without outside sources, we can always be connected and inspired throughout the day. The more a person is aware of this concept, the more inspired they will become.
10. Do you pray? If yes, how often? What effect does it have?

15. Are there any particular parts of your religion that have more impact on you? (example, you might find prayer has the most powerful impact on you in regards to your faith)

Yes. Formally, three times a day; informally; absolutely whenever we want! Prayer is most definitely one of the key aspects of Judaism. Prayer is a vital way in which we can connect to G-d and ask for His Assistance in whatever area we want, where we thank Him for every single thing that we have been blessed with. Personally, when I have finished praying, I feel so much relief and security that I know that I have been listened to and will be helped in whatever area I have or haven’t asked for. There have been so many situations, minor or major, that I have felt so frustrated or sad, and after praying, I have seen direct help. We have full belief that G-d loves everyone more than we can possibly contemplate, and listens to our prayers wherever we are. When we pray informally, which in essence is just speaking to G-d, it can be in any language that feels most comfortable. Formally, the prayers are said in Hebrew.
11. What were some of your earliest memories of your association with your religious tradition?

The Sabbath rituals are something that I don’t ever remember living without. Even before my parents were exposed to more affiliated Jews, Sabbath was always a huge part of our lives.
12. What sort of schools have you attended? Were they religion based? Which order conducted the school? If so, how was your religious identity shaped by this school?

I have only ever attended religious girls’ schools. (Kindergarten excluded) The school which I have just graduated from is a community school, and my classmates and I have an extremely close relationship, as we have been together since Prep. We all have very similar lifestyles, goals and beliefs which strengthen our relationship with each other even further.
13. Have you ever had association or experience with another religion? If yes, please explain.

Although I have not had much direct association with any other religions, there are many people in my life who are not Jewish, and we are all very respectful of each other.
14. How has your religion helped you through important life events? Please provide an example

We have an elderly grandmother who lives with us, which at times is extremely challenging. However, we have clarity that in our Torah, we are commanded respect our elders. We also put a massive amount of emphasis into gratitude, and my understanding that I owe my very existence to her keeps me going when things get a little frustrating,

17. Does the knowledge of persecution of people of the Jewish faith through different times in history impact your identity? Does it shape the way you affirm your faith?

This is a topic that is very often discussed in our studies. When we understand that in spite of our persecution, with G-d’s help we have always pulled through and re-built our nation. Although there have been many ancient cultures that have come and gone, we are still here to tell the tale. This is what gets us through rough times and will always be a great source of hope for us.
18. Are there any parts of your faith that alter the way you live? Would you ideally change these?

Yes. Our religion is a part of everything that we do, we are always finding opportunities to connect to G-d, turning mundane acts into spirituality. Many parts of Judaism have a great effect on the way that we live our daily lives. For example:

• Marriage
• Building wholesome families
• Treating animals with care
• Always being a person who cares for others, even towards complete strangers
• Keeping our language clean
• Respecting our parents and grandparents
• Peace
• Ensuring that the food we eat complies with kosher standards

There is NOTHING that I would ever change. None of these practices are burdens, but rather opportunities to constantly develop my relationship with G-d and with other people. I feel so blessed to have these systems in place and to be a part of my religion.

Sources:

 

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