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Welcome to Friends of Judaism at Resources for Life. Thanks for stopping by.

About Friends of Judaism [Top Menu]

Friends of Judaism is an organization of religious and secular people who desire to be supportive of Judaism and Jewish community. Support can take a variety of forms such as: volunteer work, financial giving, participation in services, reading Jewish books and religious texts, learning more about the Jewish faith, and observing Jewish festivals and holidays.

Why Friends of Judaism? [Top Menu]

While Judaism is welcoming of those who wish to convert to the religion, there is no effort made to proselytize or win converts. This may be a result of the negative experience many Jews have had over history with people trying to convert them away from their own faith. It is also perhaps a reflection of the viewpoint in Judaism that the Jewish faith is a religion for Jewish people but not a required by God for all people to follow. This view has opened up a way of religious observance which is not Jewish, yet it is compatible with and supportive of Judaism. This creates a very unique opportunity for people of differing religious affiliation to worship and build a religious community together.

Regarding Conversion to Judaism [Top Menu]

As mentioned above, practitioners of Judaism do not actively seek converts. Those seeking to convert to Judaism will commonly be discouraged from doing so since Judaism actually offers spiritual guidelines for non-Jews. However, for someone genuinely interested in converting, classes are usually offered to provide more information. Christians may be interested in the Jesus for Judaism resource group which offers a Christian viewpoint supportive of conversion to Judaism. [Click here]

A Rabbinical Viewpoint [Top Menu]

Some religious groups hold to the position, "You're either with us or against us." However, in Judaism, there is a middle ground for non-Jews that is considered perfectly acceptable and admirable. Judaism offers religious and spiritual guidelines for non-Jews to follow and benefit from. These guidelines are known as the seven laws of Noah or Noahide laws.  While referred to as seven laws, they are actually seven general precepts which contain many implied guidelines for living. These guidelines are commonly understood based on the authority of Rabbinical interpretation. One book that examines the seven laws of Noah is "The Path of the Righteous Gentile: An Introduction to the Seven Laws of the Children of Noah." [Click here to read more about this book at Amazon.com or Click here to view the text online]

Other Viewpoints [Top Menu]

The Rabbinical discourse on the Seven Laws of the Children of Noah is fairly complex and lengthy. For this reason, some less religious or secular people may find it to be too elaborate and demanding. Certainly any attempt, no matter how small, to improve one's life through religious awareness and observance is a benefit, even if a person doesn't completely adhere to or agree with the strict and lengthy guidelines set forth by the Rabbinical viewpoint mentioned above. For this reason, people are encouraged not to entirely give up thinking the task is impossible, but rather to do what they can to the best of their understanding and ability.

Guidelines [Top Menu]

Here are some general guidelines for being an effective friend of Judaism:

  1. Proselytizing. Some members of certain (non-Jewish) religious groups feel strongly that their own religious doctrine and practice is the only way for people to be saved. For this reason, they think the most 'friendly' thing they can do is convince Jews to renounce Judaism and convert to a (non-Jewish) faith. While the intention may be good, efforts to convert Jewish people away from Judaism are considered un-friendly and detrimental to Jewish community. For a better understanding of this, visit:  Outreach Judaism or  Jews for Judaism.
  2. Who is Jewish? In some religious traditions, it is possible to 'become' a practitioner or follower of that religion simply by declaring it so. For example, if one has faith in Jesus, they can state that they are a Christian. Or, if one finds Buddhism meaningful, they might say they are a Buddhist. There are many religions that don't prescribe a specific method of religious indoctrination to be a member of that larger religious group. However, within Judaism, it is generally understood that a person is either born Jewish (their mother or both parents are Jewish) or they have completed a lengthy and formal conversion process that has been overseen and accepted by agreed upon Jewish standards. So, following Jewish traditions and practices alone doesn't necessarily make one Jewish. According to traditional Judaism, the teaching within Christianity that all Christians are joined with Israel and are children (by faith) of Abraham doesn't actually make them Jewish. So, terms like 'grafted in' and 'one new man' and other such terminology from the New Testament, while meaningful to Christians, will not be understood by most Jewish people and once explained will very likely not be appreciated or considered 'friendly' or appropriate.
  3. Jesus. While the historical Jesus may be an admirable person, and the religious Jesus is honored and even worshipped among some Christian groups, the mention of Jesus or discussion about Jesus in Jewish groups is not common or very popular. This is not so much because of an anti-Jesus sentiment as it is a reaction to the history of Christian persecution of Jewish people and Christian efforts to convert Jews away from the Jewish life commanded by God. People often ask whether Jews 'believe in' Jesus. While they may believe there was a man named Jesus, they do not worship him as God or the Son of God because they are forbidden to do so in the Torah.
  4. Participation in Religious Services. It is not considered acceptable for non-Jews to engage in certain aspects of Jewish life and religious practice. This is not an awkward topic and shouldn't make you nervous. If you have any questions about this, you should feel free to ask someone about the guidelines to follow for the particular community you are visiting or regularly meeting with. This is similar to the Catholic religious view that those who are not Catholic should not participate in the 'Holy Communion' (eating of bread and drinking of wine that symbolize consuming the actual body and blood of Jesus).

Need More? [Top Menu]

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