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Jewish Journal

Giving Thanks

by Mark Paredes

November 25, 2010 | 1:16 am

In this season of thanksgiving, I would like to express my thanks to the members of the Jewish community of Los Angeles for accepting me as an honorary member eight years ago. Their passion, dedication and warmth have inspired me, and they make me want to be both a better Mormon and a better person.

I’m grateful to the Jewish Journal and in particular to its managing editor, Rob Eshman, for taking a chance on this blog. Not every Jewish editor would consider hosting a column on LDS-Jewish relations, and I’m lucky to know one who does. Yasher koach, my friend.

I’m grateful to the Mormons and Jews who have supported this blog by e-mailing, calling, commenting, and forwarding posts to friends. Others have helped to organize LDS-Jewish events that have brought the two communities together in marvelous ways throughout the world. I am greatly in your debt. Thank you.

I’m grateful to Craig Nelson and Gaye Smith, publisher and former editor of the Latter-day Trumpet newspaper, for encouraging me to write a religion column (“De Vera Religione”) two years ago.  I often rely on the guidance they gave me on my columns as I write the posts for this blog, and I am pleased that Craig’s paper is now online for all the world to see.

Finally, I am grateful for Jewish leaders like the prominent Orthodox Talmudist who sent us a moving thank-you letter following his trip to Salt Lake City. He reminded us all why this work is so important. Here is a poignant excerpt:

“I want you to know I’m almost 75 years old. And for half a century I’ve been involved in all kinds of interfaith programs. And most of the time they are superficial. Everybody smiles and everybody else says absolutely nothing of content and importance. You sort of congratulate yourself for doing the right thing and extending yourself. And that’s really it. This was a totally distinct and unique experience for me, in every sense of the word. And I want you to know that there was a feeling of honest brotherhood in all of these gatherings that I have never experienced before at any of these functions. There was a real spiritual connection that we felt. I know I felt it very, very strongly. I’ve been trying to analyze it, and the only conclusion I can come to is that there is a Jewish-Mormon connection. It is very real and very honest. It’s that commonality of shared values and ideals; I think it’s also a commonality of shared histories of persecution. But whatever it is, it was a feeling of such intimacy that I had, that we all had, and it’s almost indescribable. It is a religious experience, to put it accurately. It was something unlike any sentiment I have had in half a century of this sort of work. The other meetings were in many ways not dishonest, but superficial. This was real, this was honest, this was God. And that my friends is what I wanted to share with you.”

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Mark Paredes is a member of the Jewish Relations Committee of the LDS Church’s Southern California Public Affairs Council. He has worked for the ZOA, the American Jewish...

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