Exploring Judaism

One of my dear friends is Jewish. She and I lived with several other roommates in San Francisco in the late ’60s. We also traveled through Mexico together. She did not really practice her faith, but when we returned to Salt Lake City, I was invited to meet her very traditional Grandma and partake of some of their wonderful meals. Her father owned a pawn shop, and we would occasionally hang out there. We had a psychic tell us once, almost in passing, that we had been in a Jewish imprisonment lifetime together. I found that interesting, since I have always had a strong pull to Judaism. I LOVE Hebrew music and dancing, and the the “Star of David” symbol has always attracted me.

When I was in my 20s, I studied a bit of Kabbalah, though in some of the Jewish tradition only certain individuals are allowed study it, and only after they have reached a specific age. It becomes a life-long exploration. I found just scratching the surface of it by attending classes and reading books was very intriguing, especially as it relates to Judaic-Christian Scripture. But alas, not speaking Hebrew became a serious impediment, since it was an oral tradition, and the sounds of the words become very important. There are some interesting books “about” Kabbalah, however, which help explain what it is for the lay person. It is certainly an important part of the mysticism of Judaism. It includes a cosmology — a map for finding our place in the Universe, for gaining a small inkling of God and of our own path to the Divine.

Most of Christianity forgets that the Christian religion evolved out of Judaism. Jesus was a Jew, and the early teachings included much Judaism. We share the Old Testament, especially the first five books, which Judaism calls “The Torah.” And Abraham, considered the first patriarch, is also a very important Prophet in Judaism…and also Islam.

Rabbi-Cantor Didi Thomas
Rabbi-Cantor Didi Thomas

I am very excited to hear Rabbi-Cantor Didi Thomas speak and sing at Unity this Sunday! The role of the Cantor began as musical and has evolved in the Reform tradition to “inspiring others in the act of worship, serving as an authority on religious Jewish music, teaching community members, helping to build strong Jewish identities, offering pastoral care and officiating at life cycle events.” The “heart of the cantorate” remains in the sanctuary, leading people in prayer.

A Rabbi means “my teacher,” or “my master.” In Judaism, a Rabbi is a person qualified by academic studies of the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud to act as spiritual leader and religious teacher of a Jewish community or congregation.

There are more women Rabbis than before, and particularly in the Reform Movement. And the same is true of Cantors, though they are still rare. Rabbi-Cantor Didi is both, and that is very unique. Please join us at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday for the wonderful opportunity to experience her presence and her spiritual gifts and learn more about Judaism at the same time!

Rev Kathy

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