Today’s guest post comes from Jordan, a film student in the Boston area
There are two groups of people who know Mormons love Jews: Mormons and Jews. It’s a religious history thing. Since Mormons, properly identified as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, believe that they are Christ’s restored church, they feel a sense of shared history with traditional Judaism. After all, Christ’s original church was just reformed Judaism, so we feel a stronger connection to that heritage than we do to the rest of Christianity, which spent a lot of time (about two thousand years) digressing and reforming from the actual time of Christ. There are plenty of other, less esoteric reasons, but I guess that’s the one that resonates with me the most.
Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to attend a Seder for the first time. It was a lovely experience, and I was grateful for the hospitality of my friend and her family for allowing me to attend. Afterward, as we drove back to the city, my friend and I had a conversation about tradition, ritual, and human spirituality.
This stuff feels significant. Traditions facilitate the binding of families over the years, and what is ritual but the physicalizing of heritage, belief, culture, and respect? These are the means by which human beings find some tangible hold on the abstract, the spiritual. Also, it turns out we’re bad at remembering much of anything. Tradition–the repetition of singing, reading, washing, eating, all together as a family–helps us remember what’s most important to us.
And what is that? Well, the family, in particular. Families are falling apart in our world. A happy family, with a mom, a dad, and kids who don’t hate each other and hope to escape–I’m not talking about perfection here, just net happiness–anyway, a happy family is becoming so endangered as to be considered something like a unicorn or Santa Claus. A nice thought, but only kids and idiots believe they actually exist. So the things that help to bind families together, and facilitate their happiness, are nothing if not holy.
As for the rest of it–the consideration of Israelite history, God’s relationship to His people, and other things sacred to Jewish religiosity–it’s possible I had more concern for all of that than the people who were hosting the thing. But then, it was all new to me, and at the end of the night, I felt singularly privileged to see inside something so, well, holy.