|Subject:||Amusing weirdness with Missionaries|
|Date:||Apr 30 13:00|
|A very strange thing happened last month, and I
never thought to write it down till just now. Some Mormon missionary
sisters came to my home at about 9am, and I was bored enough to chat
with them, having completed all my housework in a whirlwind of activity
between 7am and 8:30am. They finally invited me to attend church, with
the understanding that I'm Jewish and would not be converting; though
they did look smug enough that I'm sure they felt I would change my
mind. I said I would attend their sacrament meeting in the interest of
fostering tolerance, if they would attend my synagogue's services the
Friday night afterward. To my surprise, they agreed.
I didn't mention to them that I'd attended a sacrament meeting before this occasion, so they were obsessed with letting me know how to behave; I found it amusing enough that I just let them ramble. Don't wear trousers, if I have a skirt (which I do). Don't wear anything low-cut, or sleeveless (Fine by me, I'm a modest person.) Don't eat the bread or drink the water at sacrament (I wouldn't). Those things were useful to know, if I hadn't already known from my own religious teachings and/or sensibilities.
Then they got personal. I shouldn't talk during services, but if I had a question about something that was happening right then, I could ask them quietly. I shouldn't get up and leave during services unless it was an emergency. I should be especially polite with the bishop, the stake president, and the mission president. I started to think that maybe they thought I was some sort of barbarian, since these things are second nature to me, and I wouldn't have had to be told. What in the world do they think non-Mormons are? But I let them go on, because it was still fairly amusing to wonder what they thought I'd behave like if they didn't teach me how to behave.
The service was what you'd expect. Lifeless singing, a few people bearing testimonies in generic terms, sacrament, prayer with people crossing arms over stomachs as if they had nausea or gas (or were throwing silent tantrums), more lifeless singing. The sermon was a bit interesting, though, as the stake president assured everyone that the Mormons were practicing the religion and the rites that were practiced in Solomon's temple. I didn't notice 'my' pet missionaries taking it with any amusement, so I restrained myself. They apparently felt it was entirely true, and that when they came to synagogue with me the following Friday, they would recognize everything they saw.
Privately I didn't think they'd actually show up, but sure enough, they had given their word and they made it. There were telephone calls ahead of time as the two sisters wondered what they should wear (anything you'd wear to your church), how they should behave (just like you would in church), who was especially important (... uh... everyone), whether they could ask questions during the service (of course, softly, like you would in church). Should they wear their name tags? Actually, that question did give me pause, since I didn't want synagogue members to think I had brought them there to proselytize everyone. In the end, I told them to follow their own consciences and not get in trouble because of mission rules; but that they should introduce themselves by first and last name if anyone asked, and say that they were there only to learn.
They wore the name tags, dressed appropriately enough, showed up on time, sat right with me. I usually sit near the front so I can hear a little better, but this time I sat with them near the back so that they could see what other people were doing. They had questions every other breath, mostly what the Hebrew prayers meant; I pointed (every single blessed time) to the English translation right below the Hebrew. They looked nervous the entire time.
When the service ended, we went outside and I offered to walk them home and ask questions. Finally they said, "It wasn't anything like sacrament meeting." I told them I knew. "Don't Jews practice the Solomonic rites?" Uh... since in Solomon's times there were animal sacrifices, and since we no longer have a Holy Temple at which to conduct them, no one actually practices rites that took place in Solomon's times. One of them hesitated and then said, "This service wasn't anything like the temple." The other one shushed her rather rapidly, but the first one persisted to ask, "Is it okay to ask what the other rites are that you practice?" What other rites? "The ones in your temples." There was only one temple, and it was destroyed. "The... sacred rites." Oh. Now I was sure they were asking whether we had secret rites, so I told them: We don't have any secret rites. Everything that Jews do is knowable by anyone who happens to be at the synagogue when it's being done. "Even non-Jews? Even visitors?" Of course.
They left, dumbstruck. They haven't called again. I wonder what they're thinking.
|Subject:||Best post I have ever read|
|Date:||Apr 30 13:28|
|Dana, sounds like you gave them a lot to think
about.. I think you are great.. Good for you for fostering tolerance.
Those little girls lost a lot of sleep...
You might want to read about what goes on in the temple sometime if you haven't read it. You will be shocked...Its an insult to the Jewish faith and an incredibly ridiculous experience.
|Subject:||What goes on in the Mormon temples|
|Date:||Apr 30 14:04|
|You're right, Leaving. What goes on in the Mormon
temples is nothing short of ludicrous, and "I stand all
amazed" that anyone could believe that these rituals are Jewish
rituals, whether ancient or modern. Reading through the Mormon temple
ceremony and listening to it on RealPlayer, I couldn't believe how
unutterably boring it was, for one thing. For another, the theology is
clearly as non-Jewish as Christianity and its cousins can get.
|Date:||Apr 30 13:37|
|I'm glad they received a dose of reality.
But alas, in the end I'm sure they'll just conclude that modern Jews have apostatized since the days of Solomon, and the sacred temple rites have therefore been forgotten.
|Subject:||Dana's very interesting story only reinforces in my mind ...|
|Date:||Apr 30 13:37|
|.. how naive and provincial are these young Mormon
mishies and how tight their blinders fit. I hope their visit to
synagogue services was eye-opening and an enriching experience.
I do give the mishies credit, tho, for even going.
Thanks for a great post, Dana.
|Subject:||They actually said "solomonic?" Sheesh.|
|Date:||Apr 30 17:01|
|Solomonic solomonic expialidocious. If you say it
loud enough, you'll always sound precocious.
Thanks for the memories. I had forgotten about that Mormon teaching--that those rituals were the same one's from Solomon's time. Ooooooh boy.
|Date:||Apr 30 20:09|
|That's about all I have to say. Shut them right up, you did. I am so pleased to read about this. You were so respectful and they acted like twits. Wow!|
|Subject:||Re: Very interesting. Thanks for posting this!!! n/t|
|Date:||May 01 04:22|
|From a story of Leonard Nimoy's, I thought there was one secret rite in Jewish ritual. He said there was one part of a ceremony where the congregation was told not to look, but as a child he peeked and saw the rabbis holding up their hands with the fingers separated--hence the "Vulcan Salute." Also, I wonder, but am too lazy to look up, when they abandoned the practice of making women sit in the back (if, in orthodox tradition, they ever did.) Sitting in the back, in some places behind a screen, must have made at least part of the services seem secret to women. Also, was animal sacrifice entirely abandoned after the destruction of the temple? Weren't they still selling doves and things as sacrifices even in Jesus' day? Thanks for the interesting post.|
|Subject:||Answers to Glass-Houses's questions|
|Date:||May 01 12:32|
From a story of Leonard Nimoy's, I thought there was one secret rite in Jewish ritual. He said there was one part of a ceremony where the congregation was told not to look, but as a child he peeked and saw the rabbis holding up their hands with the fingers separated--hence the "Vulcan Salute."
That's not a secret ritual, because everyone knows about it. Also, at some point in their lives, most people do peak -- usually as children, so it's not considered all that serious. It happens during the Birkat Kohanim, also called the Priestly Blessing. The kohanim (kohein = priests), direct descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses, are called to the front of the congregation and stand on the bimah (raised area at the front). There, they cover their heads with their prayer shawls and stretch out their hands in the shape of the Hebrew letter Shin (*sigh* The Vulcan salute), signifying one of the names of God. So standing, they sing the Birkat Kohanim found in Numbers 6:24-26, in Hebrew. The rest of the congregation either covers their eyes with their hands or prayer shawls, or trusts their self-control to look at the floor, their shoes, the prayer book, or something else; and when it's over, they say "Kein, y'hi ratzon," which is, "Yes, may it be willed [by God]."
EVERYONE knows this happens. It's not a secret. It's like, oh, I don't know, naked people. When you first find out that females and males look different naked, you try to imagine it, and probably fail. Should the opportunity present itself, you look, and then you spend years not looking, and then you look some more (with better permissions, one hopes). But the knowledge is always there, and you can think about it all you want, and if you do see what you think of as this big secret thing it's no great crime.
The reason people are told not to watch the kohanim when they are delivering the priestly benediction is simply because one should concentrate on the words being said, and not on the individuals who are saying them. It's the same reason we close our eyes when saying the Sh'ma (Hear, Israel: YHVH our God, YHVH is one). It begins with the word Hear, not with the word See, and we're meant to hear the words and concentrate on them, not to look around and be distracted by the other people around us.
Also, I wonder, but am too lazy to look up, when they abandoned the practice of making women sit in the back (if, in orthodox tradition, they ever did.) Sitting in the back, in some places behind a screen, must have made at least part of the services seem secret to women.
The Orthodox never abandoned the tradition of separating the genders. Some Conservative and Reconstructionist congregations also separate the genders, while Reform congregations almost never do. However, please note that in many/most congregations, the women's section isn't behind the men's section, but beside it. Women and men are separated from each other, not one gender separated from the religious services. In fact, in my Orthodox synagogue, the synagogue is separated right down the middle, and the mechitza (dividing 'wall') isn't even waist-high to me when I'm standing up. It's a reminder to focus on the prayers, not on the attractive person on the other side of the wall.
And by the way, it also keeps the single members of the congregation from standing out too much and looking all alone, which is a benefit that mixed-seating congregations have chosen to overlook. In mixed congregations, anyone who doesn't have someone to sit next to is singled out, but in separate-seating congregations, they have everyone else there to sit with, without 'intruding' on a family situation.
Also, was animal sacrifice entirely abandoned after the destruction of the temple? Weren't they still selling doves and things as sacrifices even in Jesus' day? Thanks for the interesting post.
Remember, the Holy Temple wasn't destroyed until the year 70 of the Current Era, at least 40 years after the death of Jesus (if he indeed lived, which I'm not prepared to debate for or against). Yes, of course they were selling doves and other animals as sacrifices in the time in which Jesus (allegedly?) lived, and for another forty years after he died. Also, even after the Temple was destroyed, there was a sect which continued to sacrifice near the former Temple site, the Shomronim (Samaritans). To this day, the Samaritans can be found making Passover sacrifices there. The majority of Judaism, however, abandoned animal sacrifices immediately when the Temple was destroyed, and will not reinstate the sacrifices until and unless the Temple is rebuilt in the Messianic age.
Thanks for reading, Glass-Houses. I don't know that my post itself was so interesting, but all the replies certainly have been!
|Subject:||That's all interesting|
|Date:||May 01 13:35|
|I think if I weren't burned out on religions, I'd be
Jewish by now. After all, I think I was in my past two lives... :)
I don't think the sister mishies were twits at all, as someone said. They were very brave to go against their conditioning. I can't imagine two elders would have done the same. The maturity difference between the elders and the sisters is often staggering.
|Subject:||Respect for those sister missionaries|
|Date:||May 01 13:57|
I don't think the sister mishies were twits at all, as someone said. They were very brave to go against their conditioning. I can't imagine two elders would have done the same. The maturity difference between the elders and the sisters is often staggering.
You're absolutely right. Part of my point, which I probably didn't emphasize nearly enough, was that those two sisters actually kept their word after I went to their church. They had no reason to come to synagogue, since they'd already gotten me to church, which was all they wanted.
Yet they did in fact come, and were very concerned about behaving appropriately and with respect to the setting and people. They probably had to answer for it later, too, since they went to a non-Mormon house of worship, and they were there for two hours during a time when they could have been proselytizing, as is their mission priority. They were curious, and asked questions rather than sit there dumbly thinking about other matters; they really did pay attention. After the service, they asked more questions, and really did seem to be looking closely at things they'd been taught.
Whether they find their way out of the cult isn't something I'll ever know, and in truth, I'm not as concerned about it, as long as they stay happy within it. I'm just impressed that they took a learning opportunity instead of letting it pass them by, and that they will probably be thinking more clearly about what they're taught. Maybe at some point someone will say something ridiculous, and instead of nodding and smiling, maybe these two sisters will think, "Well, he doesn't know everything. He's just a man, after all, and human beings make mistakes." That realization alone is worth a thousand repetitions of "Follow the prophet and the authorities, and they will never lead you astray."
|Subject:||Dana: Thank you for such informative posts! All Mormon missionaries ought to read it|
|Date:||May 01 13:55|
|That is the kind of information that they need to
Too bad the Mormons do not teach the truth about Jewish traditions and beliefs.
Too bad they have been lied to for so long the truth rarely overrides their misinformation!
Hopefully, you were able to show some misinformed female missionaries that they have been lied to!
Your example of tolerance, is commendable.
|Subject:||Re: Dana: Thank you for such informative posts! All Mormon missionaries ought to read it|
|Date:||May 03 06:52|
|Thanks for answering my question. One time on TV I saw a report on a man (from the USA--Texas, I think--) who believes the prophecy that the Temple will be restored when the site is purified by the ashes of a sacred red heifer. He started breeding cattle to get the "perfect" shade of red. As the sacred heifer has to be born in the Holy Land, he enlisted someone over there to send certain of the best of his cattle to--wonder how the project is going!|
|Date:||May 04 10:53|
Do a web search -- I think you might even find it at something like redheiffer.org or redheiffer.net or some such -- and you'll find that you're right. Or rather, that the gentleman in Texas is right. There are many, many qualifications which have to be met before the Temple can be rebuilt, and one of them is that there must be a red heiffer born in the land of Israel. It has to be of a certain shade; and it has to be completely red, no white hairs other than on its udders; and it must remain red for three years (measured on the Hebrew calendar) in order to qualify. There are other rules as well, but those are the major ones.
There was, in fact, a red heiffer born in Israel, but some of her tail hairs turned white before her third birthday, so she was disqualified.
|Subject:||Wow - informative, well-written, and thoughtful post...|
|Date:||May 03 09:49|
|...how the heck did I miss this when you
first posted it? (This board moves too fast!)
I attended a couple of different Christian services as a missionary in southern France, but could never get a companion to visit a Jewish service. There was a beautiful old synagogue in Bordeaux, and I heard about a couple of elders that went inside once and started playing frisbie with some yarmulkahs (sp?).
I still cringe about it...
Ron (who married a cool sister missionary)
|Date:||May 03 10:22|
|I was born and raised in Bordeaux. I think I know of
the synagogue you mean, is it the one off the Rue St Catherine by any
chance? I tried to call in the last few times I was on holiday there but
it was closed.
I wonder if the frisbee incident really happened or if it was one of those un-faith promoting rumour?
You know, I wasn't until I served a mission in England that I realised what the "Barriere Judaique" actually meant (Jewish Tollgate)... do'h - just goes to show how travelin' widens the mind :-)
I never realised either that Toulouse was a Jewish centre for centuries or even that there used to be a Jewish kingdom (Septimania) in the middle-ages around Narbonnes.
|Subject:||Small freaking world!|
|Date:||May 03 11:09|
|Yep - that's just the synagogue I meant. The yarmulke
frisbee incident was reported to me by one of the participants, and he
was just the type to have done it. He felt very proud of putting those
"gentiles" in their proper place. Another guy I knew went to
Midnight Mass one year in Toulouse at Christmas, and stood in line to
receive communion wearing his Mormon missionary name tag. He took the
host from the priest in gloved hands, just to piss them off. I
saw the wafer myself - he glued it into his missionary journal as a
As I recall, it caused a minor incident in the religious community in Toulouse, (my second missionary town, and the mission headquarters at the time).
Narbonne was my first town. It was almost completely Communist, from what I understand, and a complete waste of time missionary-wise. They closed it a few weeks after I was transferred out. (But I loved it.)
When I was there in 1980 people were coming to grips with how French Jews had been treated during WWII. It's not a pretty history, but people did what they had to, to survive, I guess.
I never heard of Septimania before, though I've read about the history of the Cathares, etc., in the region. I'll have to do some more reading.
The poster Jolimont who visits this board frequently is from Toulouse, and served a mission in England in the '80s. She lives in Orem UT now...
|Subject:||Re: Small freaking world!|
|Date:||May 03 17:07|
|Too true! Maybe I should've given the mishes more
credit for creating some mischief! I remember how they used to have
those Peugeot moped things at the time - they had so many accidents on
them. I remember going on an afternoon tracting with them (we used to
get the wednesday afternoons off school) and one of the elders from Utah
suddenly braked and did an amazing flyover pass the handlebars. We were
amazed he didn't break his teeth or head when he hit the road surface.
Most missionaries found the language hard-going (the further south you go and the faster it gets) and baptisms were far and few between.
Yep, there was some nasty stuff done during WWII and I remember being told that far too many people volunteered a lot of information to the germans without any need to.
I'll be going back to Bordeaux this summer (no exact date yet) to visit my family and a couple of school friends. I'll salute the synagogue for you :-)
Thanks for the tip about Jolimont. I served in England in '79/80 but I finished in Scotland in '80/81! I now live in the UK.
|Subject:||Frisbee with yarmulkehs (kipot; singular = kipah)|
|Date:||May 04 10:56|
|Sometimes Jewish kids do this, before they're old
enough that it really, seriously matters whether they remove their kipot.
A kipah (Hebrew), also known as yarmulkeh (Yiddish), is not a sacred
garment. It's a plain, ordinary garment that serves a "sacred"
purpose, that of reminding the wearer that there is always something
above him (or her, though most women choose other head coverings).
Playing frisbee with a kipah is no more sacreligious than, say, making a
paper airplane out of a one-page church service bulletin.
Still, it's usually better not to do, if you're not a Jew and it's therefore not your own kipah.
|Subject:||Mormon temple rites vs. "Solomonic" temple rites...|
|Date:||May 03 10:18|
|Good job with the lady mishies, Dana. It always
amuses me when a Mormon repeats the "Mormon temple rites are the
same ones practiced in ancient Israel" nonsense. Particularly since
the Mormon rite is built around characters such as Jesus, Peter James
& John, and Lucifer, who were unknown in ancient Judaism. Not to
mention all the exclusively modern Mormon features of the endowment,
which could not possibly have been part of any ancient rituals. And the
ancient Hebrew temple rites are spelled out in great detail in the Old
Testament, and they bear no resemblance whatsoever to the Mormon rites.
Of course, the Mormon "party line" says that Freemasonry is the "corrupted" version of the ancient Hebrew temple rite, and that is why the Mormon endowment is so similar to Masonic rites. However, that idea is impossible, since modern Masonic rites which Joseph Smith borrowed from were first invented in medieval times:
"The traditional origin of Freemasonry (which 'enlightened' Masons view as mythological or legendary) is the construction of Solomon's temple by Master Mason Hiram Abiff. Actually, Freemasonry was a development of the craft guilds during the construction of the great European cathedrals during the tenth to seventeenth centuries. After the Middle Ages, lodges in Scotland and Great Britain began to accept honorary members and worked out rudimentary ceremonies to distinguish members of trade organizations. In 1717 four fraternal lodges, perhaps actual masons' lodges, united as the Grand Lodge ofE ngland, considered the beginning of organized Freemasonry or 'speculative Masonry.' The order spread quickly to other countries and included such prominent adherents as Mozart, Voltaire, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. Some historians believe that Masons staged the Boston Tea Party. Latter-day Saints may feel that Masonry constitutes a biblical-times source of uncorrupted knowledge from which the temple ceremony could be drawn. However, historians of Freemasonry generally agree that the trigradal system of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason, as practiced in Nauvoo, cannot be traced further back than the eighteenth century.
According to Douglas Knoop and G. P. Jones, two knowledgeable twentieth-century historians, it is 'highly probable' that the system of Masonry practiced at the organization of the Grand Lodge in London 'did not consist of three distinct degrees.' They warn, 'It would probably not be safe to fix a date earlier than 1723 or 1725 for the origin' of the trigradalsystem. 'Accepted Masonry underwent gradual changes throughout a period of years stretching from well before 1717 to well after that date.... The earliest speculative phase of Freemasonry may be regarded as beginning about 1730.... Though some symbolism had doubtless crept into Masonry by that date, it would not appear to have reached its full development for another forty or fifty years.' "
("The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship," pp. 45-46.)
|Subject:||General ignorance of Judaism helped make Mormonism possible.|
|Date:||May 03 11:06|
|In 19th-century America, Jews were still looked down upon and lived on the fringes of Christian society. So it was really easy for bozos like Joseph Smith to make claims about his religion's connection to ancient Jewish beliefs and practices. Not many people knew enough to call his bluff.|
|Subject:||Re: General ignorance of Judaism helped make Mormonism possible.|
|Date:||May 04 11:02|
|Stray Mutt wrote:
In 19th-century America, Jews were still looked down upon and lived on the fringes of Christian society. So it was really easy for bozos like Joseph Smith to make claims about his religion's connection to ancient Jewish beliefs and practices. Not many people knew enough to call his bluff.
Sadly true, except for the last line. There were plenty people who could have called his bluff. It just happened that he was (just barely) smart enough not to try preaching to Jews very often. He only fed his 'mess of cabbage' to non-Jews, who frankly have no reason for knowing about Judaism. The few times he may have approached Jews, they probably rolled their eyes and said "Feed that to someone who doesn't know any better." Unfortunately he took the advice.
|Subject:||You should have said...|
|Date:||May 03 14:34|
|You should have messed with their heads when they
asked their questions:
>the two sisters wondered what they should wear...
You should have said: "In a Jewish Synagogue, women are forbidden to wear underwear, and must not wear a skirt that is longer than 8 inches above the knees"
>how they should behave
You should have said: "In a Jewish Synagogue, women are totally subservient to all men, and must obey any request made of them by any man"
>who was especially important:
You should have said: "Only the men, of course... women are in the Synagogue only to serve the men's every need"
>whether they could ask questions during the service
You should have said: "The only question a woman can ask in the Synagogue is whether or not the men are really Jewish, and they have the right to demand that each man prove to them they are circumcised."
>Should they wear their name tags?
You should have said: "Only if you have name tags that identify you as 'Yenta,' as the title 'Sister' is not recognized in the Synagogue"
They would either believe you... or think you were crazy... either way they would never knock on your door again!
|Subject:||ROTFLMAO! and a story about the LDS Visitors Center in San Diego|
|Date:||May 03 15:18|
|Oh my heck, one of the funniest posts I've ever
read! It's very difficult to get TBMs to state that they believe that
their temple rites are the authentic ceremonies of King Solomon's temple
(duh....why would Jesus and the apostles appear in a ceremony that was
performed in the B.C. era???), so I'm glad that they loosened up with
you. Perhaps playing "dumb" was useful in this case. Most TBMs
are so narrow and parochial that they've never been in a Jewish
On the same note, I have a TBM acquaintance from Layton, Utah who was visiting here (San Diego) and we took her to the Old Town section of the city. The LDS Visitor Center is located there, because of the connection between the Mormon Batallion and Old Town (and also because there are few passersby at the San Diego Temple, sitting in a commercial area as it does).
Anyway, I told her that we would show her the Visitors Center and then "take her through the temple". She was sort of surprised, knowing that we're not LDS, but I quickly clarified that the "temple" in this case would be the original first building that once housed San Diego's Temple Beth Israel. The synagogue sold the building 80 years ago and recently saved it from demolition. Members raised enough money to move and restore it in Old Town's Heritage Park. Many historic building have been moved there. While the LDS Visitors Center is next door to the park, it's not a park of the park:
Anyway, I solved her confusion by telling her that she'd "go through" a building that at one time housed a Jewish congregation, though the congregation no longer owns the building, having deeded it to the county. Her amazing question: "Are we [non-Jews] allowed inside?" I couldn't believe it. She really thought that Jewish temples were off-limits to nonmembers.
|Subject:||You are fabulous!!!|
|Date:||May 03 17:17|
|The secret ceremonies & the temple are one of my biggest issues w/ my TBM mom & sister. I have also asked other missies when Jesus had taught in secret. With no answer. I am going to bring it up again when the missies come over for lunch.|