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Jewish Souls In Bodies That Do Not Look Jewish

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

(RNS) Sandra Lawson, a former military police officer turned personal trainer, wasn’t religious about anything (except maybe fitness), she also wasn’t looking to convert to Judaism, and she certainly never aspired to be one of the first black, openly lesbian rabbis, according to Religious News Service.

But in May Lawson finished her fourth year at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College outside Philadelphia. She plans to marry her girlfriend and spend the fall semester in Israel. If all goes according to plan, she will celebrate her ordination as a Rabbi in 2018.

“Sandra,” explained Rabbi Josh Lesser, the rabbi who prepared Lawson for her conversion, ”is an ‘all-in’ kind of person.” When Lawson, now 45, told him that she wanted to become a Jew 11 years ago, he said he felt that “some kind of leadership would emerge from this.”

No one has been purposefully mean to Lawson, but not long ago, a stranger saw her in a store, noticed her yarmulke and asked her if she was Jewish. She said she was and asked him the same question. “He looked shocked,” Lawson said of the man who turned out to be Jewish. “Like I was not allowed to ask him what he had just asked me.”

There was a picture of M. L. King in her parents’ home while she was growing up; there was no picture of Jesus’. Her family was not particularly connected to her father’s Baptist roots, and her mother didn’t talk about religion. But as a child, she was drawn to a story her mother told about an Ethiopian Jewish ancestor. “I don’t want people to think I grew up searching for this Jewish identity,” Lawson said. “It was just a story.”

But through a Jewish girlfriend in Atlanta, she was exposed to a full year of Jewish observances and holidays. At Shabbat dinners, Lawson loved how parents blessed their children. At the family’s Passover seder, she felt what Jewish tradition wants participants to feel — that in telling the story of the liberation of the Israelites, they are telling their own liberation story.

The relationship eventually ended. Then in 2001, she met Lesser, who hired her to be his personal trainer at the Urban Body gym in Atlanta. At first, Lawson knew her client as Josh Lesser. Later she found out he was Rabbi Josh Lesser. He invited her to Bet Haverim, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Atlanta founded by gay Jews.

The congregation was laid-back but serious about issues she cared about — gay rights and inequality. “I was looking for a community and I thought: ‘I want to be Jewish. And I want to be Jewish here,’” Lawson said. After her conversion, and when she felt herself more drawn toward leadership in the Jewish community, she found out that “there is a school that trains people like Josh.”

Although Sandra Lawson would probably be surprised , there is a good chance she has always had a Jewish soul. There are hundreds of thousands of people from Africa with Jewish souls. Their Jewish ancestors came to Africa during Roman times. Most of them lived in the area around Ethiopia and never lost their connection with the Jewish people. Almost all of these Ethiopian Jews now live in Israel.

Many other Jews who lived in smaller communities in east and west Africa eventually lost contact with the Ethiopian Jewish center and assimilated into African pagan culture. In later centuries these assimilated Jews were drawn to Islam and Christianity because it reconnected them to their Jewish origins. In the last century some of their descendants inherited a Jewish soul from one of their original Jewish ancestors.

This led them to return to the Jewish people by forming separate Black Hebrew sects (both in Africa and in America) or by individual conversion (like Sammy Davis Jr, the grandfather of opera singer Marian Anderson and Julius Lester, author of Lovesong: Becoming a Jew). How can one know if he or she has a Jewish soul?

Signs of a Jewish soul.

1- You like to ask questions? But when you asked them as a child, you were told faith is a gift from God and you shouldn’t question it. This never satisfied you, although others didn’t seem to have a problem with this view.

2- The trinity never made any sense to you even as a young child.

You couldn’t believe that people who didn’t believe in Jesus couldn’t go to Heaven.

Even though you were told to pray to Jesus, you preferred to pray to God the father, rather than Jesus, the Son of God.

3- You always related to the stories in the Hebrew bible more than to the stories in the New Testament.

4- You found you related well to Jewish people you met at work or at school even though they were very different culturally and religiously from your own family.

5- When you first learned about the Holocaust you reacted more emotionally than did other members of your own family or your friends.

6- When you started to learn about Judaism; you felt Jewish ideas and values were very reasonable, and Jewish traditions and heritage were very attractive. You felt you were coming home.

If most of these statements apply to you, you probably have a Jewish soul. If you can find a possible Jewish ancestor you definitely have a Jewish soul.

To learn more about Kabbalistic beliefs in reincarnation, and the reincarnation of Jewish souls in the non-Jewish descendants of Jews who were cut off from the Jewish People, read God, Sex and Kabbalah by Rabbi Allen S. Maller or visit Rabbi Maller’s website: rabbimaller.com


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The History of Tattoos

by Becky McClure

The word, Tattoo, comes from the Polynesian word, “tatao” which means “to tap” or “to mark something.”Captain James Cook introduced this word to the English during his voyage around the world in 1769. Captain Cook and his crew of the ship, The Endeavour, were welcomed with open arms by the friendly and uninhibited Tahitians (yeah, that means many of them were naked.) Since the weather was very warm on the island, clothing was optional.

The Tahitians tried to look their best by decorating their bodies. But the fact of the matter was the application of tattoos, which was painful. It was done by dipping a sharp-pointed comb into lampblack and then hammering it into the skin. Nonetheless, everybody did it.

A woman showing images tattooed or painted on ...

A woman showing images tattooed or painted on her upper body, 1907. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As word of tattooing in Tahiti and other Polynesian islands spread, the European sailors began to get tattooed themselves. This probably illustrated why tattoos were looked upon with such a lack of credibility in the early days and were considered as a kind of thing suitable for drunkards, sailors and criminals.

Modern archeology has uncovered the practice of tattoos in many ancient cultures all over the world.

In 1992, in the Alps between the border of Austria and Italy, a perfectly preserved body of a man was found. He was estimated to have lived 5,000 years ago! And he had 58 tattoos all over his body.

Mummies from the ancient Egyptians had tattoos.

Clay figurines found in Japan dated 3,000 years ago were engraved with tattoo marks.

The ancient Greeks and Romans used tattoos to identify slaves and criminals.

But tattooing has only become acceptable in the mainstream society recently. Tattoo shops and parlors were nothing more than wretched hives of scum and villainy, located in the seediest parts of most towns have undergone significant changes.

English: Tattos of Cross on Croatian women in ...

English: Tattos of Cross on Croatian women in Bosnia and Herzegovina were defence from Ottoman Turks Hrvatski: Tetovaže križa i ostalih kršćanskih simbola na hrvatskim ženama u Bosni i Hercegovini bile su obrana od Osmanlija. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tattooing has really become popular with sports athletes. No one can forget the now-retired flamboyant NBA forward, Dennis Rodman, whose body was a tattooing canvas. A more current example is Allen Iverson of the Philly 76’ers. The tattooing trend is getting really popular in college basketball. And the trickle-down effect is appearing on high school athletes. Some old-fashion coaches forbidden any display of tattoos which meant some basketball players has to play with a t-shirt under their game jersey. Football fans can’t miss the barbed wire tattoos on the well-developed arms of football players.

The popular show, “Miami Ink,” from TLC is a reality-based show. The show’s popularity demonstrates just how mainstream the art of body art or “inking” has become. And it gives the viewers a look into the skill and history of both the artists and their customers.

Article Source: http://www.articleset.com


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Liminal and Liminoid

English: Rock concert at The Hexagon The band ...

Rock concert at The Hexagon The band are Jethro Tull, performing an acoustic number. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Expert from my blog… read more here

Browsing through my library, I recently found some interesting material on the idea of liminality. You’d think I’d know all about this concept; it’s right up my alley. But as things go, I’ve only made note of it until now.

Some quick research on Wiki produced these two links. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in religion and the related idea of numinosity. Of particular interest is the distinction anthropologist Victor Turner makes between the liminal and the liminoid. The one is structured and expected by society, and more like work (e.g. going to Church); the other is free and playful (e.g. going to a rock concert). But both apparently have similar effects. They transport you somewhere out of the ordinary.

This second link is an interview with Talal Asad. I was pleasantly surprised to discover his views on postmodernism and religion. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. And it’s always great to find an “established” thinker who’s saying things that you’ve already thought about. It gives you a sense of reinforcement and encouragement. After all, a single innovative thinker is often ignored or marginalized (as has been my experience). More than one, however, and people begin to take notice.

Apart from my personal story, I really believe that humanity would benefit from using all of the intellectual tools we have at our disposal… especially with regard to religion and society.

—MC


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Melding Theological Beliefs – An Honorable Approach towards Religious Strife

By Smith Baker

The education of various faiths in different schools and educational institutions is often carried out in a segregated environment which ensures that children and individuals of the same faith and religious background are grouped together. While the given educative scenario may seem to be feasible and highly productive from the teacher’s perspective, too often it is argued that this form of pedagogy does not result in peacemakers who are able to accept other faiths and grow as adults who have high tolerance for conflicting beliefs.

Educators around the world have therefore proposed a new pedagogical strategy for theology schools suggesting that instead of urging students to steep further into their own beliefs and faiths they should be introduced to a classroom setting that supports a multi-faith culture. Of course religion is one of the most ignored aspects in the American academia but given the immense need to nurture tolerant and peacemaking adults, this practical approach toward theology provides a unique and exciting way to handle the challenges being faced at a socio-political level.

Termed as an unorthodox approach, melding the education of different faiths and religions is an excellent way to preach peace and tolerance to our future generation. We live in an era that is dominated by a plethora of religious misunderstanding and theological strife. If schools and colleges were to adopt this approach, we will be providing the various religious communities across the globe to exist in harmony with each other. In addition, there is also a need to place meticulous focus on curriculum and course development and refinement in order to establish new certification programmes that introduce students to topics such as religious conflict resolution and theological ethics. Such programmes however cannot be run by a single faith and therefore will require a collaborative effort, housing the leaders from multiple sects under one roof.

Despite the numerous benefits of this proposed teaching methodology, the view has not been able to avoid considerable criticism and acrimony from various sects across the globe. A number of leaders in the Christian, Jewish and Islamic community have objected to the approach given the concerns that this educative stance may threaten to dilute their beliefs and the foundations of their faith. Many more have called for a critical review of the curriculum and suggest that the same will hamper adequate education in various institutes.

It is however worth mentioning that this approach towards religion and theology stems from the desire to learn. Melding together the studies and beliefs of different faiths is an excellent way to connect individuals across the globe at larger levels. The effectiveness of the approach however lies in how efficiently and how conscientiously it is executed.

About the Author

Smith Baker – I am Smith Baker, a person who possesses the ability to maintain corporate blog updates. Professionally, I have amassed a considerable…


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That Offends Me!


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Racism – How far have we come… how far do we still have to go?


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Are we living in an overmedicalized society?

People talk about the water supply, and water shortages in California. How many stop to consider all those “medications” (a bit of a euphemism, in some cases) that are being urinated into the water supply? And why isn’t this kind of drug problem making the headlines?

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