Posted by Mark Paredes
And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you. – Genesis 9:8-9
Righteous people of all nations have a share in the world to come.—Sanhedrin 105a
One of my regular readers is an LDS Swedish theologian who is doing her best to counter anti-Semitic and anti-Mormon bloggers in her über-secular country. This week she posed a question that would be a great topic for a book: Do rabbis believe that Mormons are Noahides? Rabbis who understand our beliefs would undoubtedly apply that label to observant Mormons and other practicing Christians. However, there are good reasons for Mormons themselves to reject it.
Rabbinic Judaism divides the world’s moral people into two groups: Jews who observe the laws of the Torah, and Gentile Noahides who observe the Seven Laws of Noah. Jews believe that these laws were given to all mankind through our non-Jewish common ancestors Adam and Eve (Talmudic interpretation of Genesis 2:16) and Noah (9th chapter of Genesis). According to Jewish teachings, only Jews are required to observe the Torah’s 613 commandments, which include the Ten Commandments and the Noahide laws, while non-Jews who keep the Noahide laws are considered to be “righteous Gentiles” who will be rewarded in the world to come.
Mormons certainly have no theological objection to any of the Noahide laws. We are firmly opposed to idolatry, murder, theft, sexual immorality, and blasphemy. While our scriptures do not contain a specific prohibition against eating flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive, I doubt very much that many Mormons are guilty of doing so. Moreover, the Word of Wisdom (our health and dietary code) commands Latter-day Saints to use meat sparingly and only in times of winter, cold, or famine. Mormons have always established legal courts in their communities and believe in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the laws of the land. In spite of our scriptures’ lack of an affirmative commandment to avoid eating meat cut from a living animal, I’m pretty sure that Mormons would get a passing mark on any objective Noahide assessment. When Mormons are asked by Jews whether they are Noahides, they almost always answer yes.
When asked, I always tell rabbis that I consider myself to be an Israelite, so I can’t be a Noahide. Faithful Mormons are given special blessings (patriarchal blessings) that declare in which Israelite tribe they will receive their spiritual inheritance. The tribe may or may not correspond to their blood lineage, but the tribal designation is very real to Mormons, who strongly believe that they are Latter-day Israelites. My patriarchal blessing goes one step further by informing me that I am a direct descendant of Ephraim, the son of Joseph. If Israelite descendants of Ephraim could somehow be found and identified by rabbis today, would they be expected to observe the Seven Laws of Noah or the laws of the Torah? My guess is the latter. The Hebrew Bible clearly teaches that all of the Children of Israel, not just the Jews, received the Torah at Sinai. The 10 Lost Tribes disappeared from history about 600 years after Moses, but while the Israelites wandered through the desert and lived in the Land of Israel, they all had the same responsibility to observe the Law of Moses. For this reason, I believe that a Mormon who claims to be a Noahide—outside the covenants of Abraham and Moses—is implicitly denying his Israelite identity.
Regular readers know that one of my goals is to seek common ground and promote understanding between Mormons and Jews. On one level, it’s great for Jews to consider their LDS friends as “righteous Gentiles” who live moral lives worthy of respect (and vice versa, of course). However, they should know that by doing so they are exempting Mormons from the religious obligations expected of members of the House of Israel, which is impossible to square with our theology. I wish I had a quick and easy answer for my Swedish friend, but on this important issue I think clarity is even more important than agreement.
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January 18, 2011 | 10:25 pm
Posted by Mark Paredes
Hine ma tov u’ma naim
Shevet achim gam yachad
[“How good and pleasant it is
When brothers dwell together in unity”]
- Jewish hymn
There was certainly a lot of unity on display on Sunday night in Lenexa, Kansas. More than a thousand Mormons and Jews gathered to witness a theological dialogue between Conservative Rabbi Alan Cohen, Director of Interreligious Affairs for the JCRC in Kansas City, and yours truly (see picture at right). After an hour of discussing prayer, worship, halachic pluralism, and proselytizing, we took questions from the audience. The most memorable one was from a young man who wanted to know what the difference was between Orthodox and “un-Orthodox” Jews. [I can think of many Orthodox rabbis who would have given him two thumbs up for that one]. This is the second Jewish-LDS dialogue in Missouri that has drawn more than a thousand people; the first one took place in St. Louis last year when I shared the pulpit with another Conservative rabbi. It looks like the “Show-Me” State is showing the rest of the country how interested Mormons and Jews are in learning about each other.
The dialogue was the result of one of those random encounters that sometimes bear fruit in unexpected ways. Last year Rabbi Cohen contacted Larry Nicholson, an LDS photographer and lucky husband of author Dorinda Nicholson (“Pearl Harbor Child”). After seeing the word “interreligious” in the rabbi’s title, Larry suggested to Dorinda, who is also a local public affairs leader in the LDS Church, that she speak with Rabbi Cohen to see whether he might be interested in working with her on an interfaith project. The rest, as they say, is history.
Our event capped a very productive bridge-building week for me. On Friday night I joined LDS leaders, Rabbi Cohen and Rabbi Robert Tobin for a worship service and dinner at Congregation Beth Shalom in Kansas City. On Wednesday I was honored to speak at the stunning Jewish Community Center in Salt Lake City, where I learned that most couples in the city’s Kol Ami synagogue are interfaith, including many LDS-Jewish pairings. The evening couldn’t have gone better: I was interviewed by the state’s two leading newspapers, my journalistic colleague Christa Woodall attended my speech (she blogs on LDS-Jewish issues for J Weekly in San Francisco), I got to hold my friend Karen’s three-month-old baby girl, and a lovely LDS woman presented me with two copies of her recently-published book “The Jews of Valencia and Tortosa and The Spanish Inquisition.” I have already found homes for them.
It’s weeks like this that make it all worth it. Shavua tov, everyone.
January 10, 2011 | 1:39 am
Posted by Mark Paredes
“Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” – Genesis 9:6
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regards the question of whether and in what circumstances the state should impose capital punishment as a matter to be decided solely by the prescribed processes of civil law. We neither promote nor oppose capital punishment.” – LDS Church official statement (www.lds.org)
The senseless killings in Tucson this weekend present as good an opportunity as any to discuss capital punishment, which may very well be applied in the future to the deranged Hitler lover who attempted to murder a Jewish congresswoman. Many Jews are surprised to learn that the LDS Church, which publicly and passionately opposed gay marriage and the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, does not take positions on many other controversial moral issues of the day. While other churches line up on all sides of the debates on evolution, stem cell research, and capital punishment, the Mormon Church asks members to let their conscience be their guide on these issues.
With regard to capital punishment, the five books of LDS scriptures can be used both to justify and oppose the killing of murderers by the state. While the Hebrew Bible clearly sanctions (indeed, commands) the shedding of murderers’ blood, the New Testament seems to promote the turn-the-other-cheek, recompense-to-no-man-evil-for-evil approach (Matt. 5:38-41; Romans 12:17-21). Similarly, capital punishment was practiced by the societies in The Book of Mormon that observed the Law of Moses, but there is no record of murderers being killed after Jesus appeared in the Americas and taught the people there the same principles that He had taught in the Holy Land. Verse 19 of the 42nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants clearly states “he that killeth shall die,” but 60 verses later we read that killers “shall be delivered up and dealt with according to the laws of the land…and it shall be proved according to the laws of the land.” The latter approach is the current policy of the Mormon Church.
While the scriptures may be ambiguous, there was no ambiguity in the actions of the LDS Church leaders who established capital punishment in the state of Deseret and the Utah territory in the 19th century. The State of Utah has always had the death penalty for murder, and it was the first state to resume executions after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted its ban on capital punishment in 1976. Nevertheless, Mormons’ views on such issues tend to reflect those of their societies unless they directly contradict the doctrines of their church. For example, Most Mormons in this country almost certainly favor the death penalty for murder, but I have yet to meet an Italian Mormon who does. I suspect that the same is true for most Mormons living in Western Europe. Given the modern LDS Church’s status as an international organization with a presence in nearly 180 countries, I think it is wise for it to avoid taking a position on state-sanctioned killings. The death penalty is not applied uniformly throughout the world, and any statement in support of it could reasonably be interpreted as Church support for the stoning of adulterous women in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, public executions in Iran, etc.
By way of comparison, the rabbis of the Talmud effectively outlawed capital punishment in Judaism, and the State of Israel (which is not governed by Jewish law) bans executions except for perpetrators of genocide and wartime traitors. The only person executed by Israel to date was the Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann in 1962. [Having visited Auschwitz, I think that the witnesses to his execution should have applauded].
Truth be told, capital punishment has never been a front-burner issue for me. My home state of Michigan abolished the death penalty for all crimes except treason in 1846, and completely abolished it in its 1963 constitution. No one has ever been executed in the state. However, I do think that each state should have a terminal sentence (for Ohio State fans who may not understand the term, it means execution or life imprisonment without parole) to give to murderers like Charles Manson who should never walk the streets again. Would I support the death penalty with more fervor if a close family member were brutally murdered? Quite possibly. Whatever one’s views on capital punishment, people of all faiths should agree that if the State of Arizona intends to execute people who commit heinous murders, it has just found its poster child.
I would like to interview Mormon converts to Judaism for a future post. Please contact me if you would like to share your experiences.
I will be speaking at the Jewish Community Center in Salt Lake City on January 12 at 7:00 p.m. I will also be speaking with Rabbi Alan Cohen at the Lenexa Stake Center in Lenexa, KS on January 16 at 7:00 p.m.
January 5, 2011 | 10:36 pm
Posted by Mark Paredes
I am always happy to hear from Dr. Jahan Stanizai, a prominent Muslim interfaith leader in Los Angeles, but this week one of her emails was especially reassuring and timely. The Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, an influential umbrella organization for mosques and Muslim organizations in our region, had a prominent header on its website entitled “In Grief and Solidarity with the Coptic Christian Community.” The accompanying article condemned the “senseless killing” of 21 worshippers in the bombing of the Saints Coptic Church in Alexandria, Egypt, on New Year’s Eve. The council’s Egyptian-American chairman affirmed his abhorrence of “the heinous crime,” and its executive director sent a letter of sympathy to the Coptic Bishop of Los Angeles. Their actions were repeated throughout the Middle East by people of goodwill, including many Muslims.
While these expressions of solidarity were sincere and appreciated, the killing of the Copts is but the latest manifestation of the evil that is present in a very sick society. I visited Egypt many times while living in Israel, and enjoyed exploring the Sinai Peninsula, Cairo, and Luxor. A part of me will always love touristy Egypt, the ancient land of the pyramids, the Nile, the Sphinx, and my beloved ful. However, after I found out that almost all Egyptian women are mutilated, I stopped visiting. According to the latest UNICEF figures, 96% of Egyptian women between the ages of 15 and 49 undergo some form of female genital mutilation. I have no interest in whether the practice is cultural or religious, or whether the Egyptian government at one time enacted a law banning the procedure. The truth is that 96% of Egyptian women continue to be brutally and cruelly tortured in a country that receives billions of dollars in U.S. aid. Given that Coptic Christians are 10-20% of Egypt’s population, one can assume that many Copts torture their women as well. I have no hope that such a country will ever become civilized. It’s no wonder that Hosni Mubarak insists on only answering questions about Israel in his press conferences and statements. It sure beats addressing the mutilation of females or the bombing of churches.
Last year I felt compelled to correct a well-meaning Mormon couple who had recently returned from a trip to Egypt convinced that Egyptians value chastity and modesty in the same way that Mormons do. Needless to say, they were shocked when I asked them when they had mutilated their two daughters. The idea that Egyptian society cherishes women and womanhood in the same way that Mormons and Jews do is utter nonsense. Instead of promoting modesty and virtue, Egyptians mutilate girls and create a society that incubates religious fanatics who fly commercial planes into buildings (Mohammed Atta, September 11, 2001) and blow up Christian churches. Such a society must be anti-Semitic at its core, and indeed this is the case with Egypt.
I will pray for the Copts to have a peaceful and joyous Christmas celebration this Friday, but I’m not optimistic about their fate in a country that tortures its daughters and sisters. When I contrast the Pharaonic dynasties and pyramids with Mubarak and mutilations, I conclude that Egypt is in fact a potato nation: the best part is underground.
January 1, 2011 | 1:52 pm
Posted by Mark Paredes
I spent the last morning of 2010 at a screening of the new Yogi Bear movie with some very special kids. My autistic nephew’s therapy group reserved the theater, and about 100 people came to enjoy the movie with other families who don’t mind occasional outbursts or other disruptions from their neighbors. While being introduced to my nephew’s many friends as the uncle who was a Portuguese fisherman on the TV show Family Guy, I couldn’t help but reflect on LDS and Jewish teachings on the mentally disabled and our obligations to them.
According to LDS theology, all men and women lived with our Heavenly Father and Mother before coming to earth to gain a physical body and to be tested to see whether we would be faithful to God and prove worthy to live with Him again for eternity. Some of our spiritual siblings were so obedient and valiant in the pre-earth life that they do not need to prove themselves in this one. That is, their salvation is assured; they only need to come to this earth to gain a physical body that will someday be resurrected. It is our belief that people with severe mental disabilities are members of this elite class of souls who will be fast-tracked to heaven.
Other members of this group include infants and children who die before reaching an age where they can be held accountable by God for their moral choices, which we believe is eight years old for normal children. We do not baptize children before they are eight years old, and we hold that children who die before reaching the age of moral accountability are automatically saved in heaven. In addition, we do not believe that Satan has the power to tempt little children before they are morally accountable (which as any parent knows does not necessarily mean that little kids are incapable of doing “wrong” things). For us, circumcision reinforces the moral accountability of children: our modern scriptures teach that Israelite parents were commanded to circumcise their sons at eight days as a reminder that children are not accountable for their moral choices until they are eight years old (JST Genesis 17:11).
I am not aware of any authoritative Jewish teaching that explains why some people are born with severe mental disabilities and/or assigns a role to them in the next life. However, both Mormons and Jews, along with decent people everywhere, believe that we have a special responsibility towards them. According to Conservative Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner, “Contemporary Judaism sees the disabled as those who have a challenge to overcome and we are bound as a community to be compassionate, understanding and to facilitate their needs. That is why you see many more synagogues with hearing aids of various types, ramps to the bimah, etc.” My nephew has already taught me a great deal about unconditional love and acceptance, and I can only hope to deal with life’s trials and challenges in a way that will allow me to be where he will be in the world to come. The way things stand right now, it’s obvious which one of us has the true disability.
Best wishes for a successful and spiritual 2011 to all of my readers.
I will be speaking at the Jewish Community Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, January 12 at 7:00 p.m. I will also be speaking with Rabbi Alan Cohen at the Lenexa Stake Center in Lenexa, KS on Sunday, January 16 at 7:00 p.m.
December 25, 2010 | 1:48 am
Posted by Mark Paredes
Since I will be celebrating Christmas with my family next week in Michigan, I decided to spend Christmas Eve with observant Jews attending the annual Orthodox Union’s Torah Convention. The first Christmas Eve OU event that I attended was a 2006 debate on Orthodoxy between Dennis Prager and my good friend Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Tonight a few dozen people gathered at the regal home of Dr. Steven Tabak and his better half Linda to hear two of America’s great rabbis share their thoughts on defining Jewish values. They discussed several topics that are of interest to Mormons, and the LDS Church was mentioned several times. The discussion lasted two and a half hours, and was so wide-ranging that the rabbis only managed to address one of three questions that the eloquent moderator, Rabbi Adir Posy, had planned to cover. No one present seemed to mind.
Rabbi Steven Weil, the OU’s National Executive VP, began his presentation by identifying Jewish parents as being primarily responsible for the transmission of Jewish values and moral character to their children, with schools and synagogues serving as concentric circles around the parents. This responsibility requires parents to behave in an ethical manner so that their children will be drawn to Judaism; hypocrisy on their part will cause their kids to leave the faith. Rabbi Weil went on to say that it is ethical behavior, not outward signs of Orthodoxy like Sabbath observance, that truly characterizes an Orthodox Jew. He could have easily made the same speech to Mormon parents.
The other presenter was Rabbi Michael Broyde, a law professor at Emory University in Atlanta and a member of the Beth Din of America (the nation’s largest Jewish law court in the country). I had heard Rabbi Broyde speak on the halachic principle of dina d’malchuta dina (equivalent to the LDS Twelfth Article of Faith), and was eager to hear his thoughts on this topic. He focused on economic issues related to living an Orthodox life, lamenting the fact that many Jewish institutions granted Jewish immortality (i.e., honors including having their names engraved on buildings) to big donors instead of adhering to the past practice of honoring learned rabbis, scientists, judges, etc. Needless to say, a lively discussion ensued between several audience members and the rabbis.
The rabbis were kind enough to include me in the discussion by mentioning that both of them have engaged in dialogue with LDS leaders and praising Mormons’ desire to work with Orthodox Jews on school vouchers and other issues of interest to both communities (the LDS Church does not take an official position on vouchers). They also mentioned Mormons while addressing two issues: tithing and excommunication of unethical members of their community. Both rabbis appeared to advocate an arrangement of lifetime tithing for the Orthodox in exchange for the provision of certain services, including tuition for their children at Orthodox day schools. They pointed to the LDS Church as a model to be followed in this regard (i.e., the building of chapels, temples, universities). Rabbi Broyde then initiated what became an intense discussion of what to do with donations given by people who had engaged in criminal and/or unethical behavior. He went on to point out the difficulty of applying the LDS practice of excommunicating members guilty of serious sins to the Bernie Madoffs of the Jewish community.
When an audience member asked whether Mormons debate similar issues, I was asked to respond. While Latter-day Saints do pay tithing and are required to be honest in their business dealings in order to enter an LDS temple, there is very little debate within our community on the suitability of individual members to give money to our church. Our leaders’ general policy, as stated by Joseph Smith, is to teach members correct principles and to let them govern themselves. However, I assured those present that people of all faiths do wrestle with these issues. By way of example, I shared with them my personal boycott of Marriott hotels, which bear the name of a prominent Mormon family, due to the pornographic TV channels and alcohol that they make available to their guests. Eight years ago I discussed this issue with an official spokesman for Marriott hotels, and he confirmed that the money from pornography and alcohol was not segregated, but made its way along with other revenue to the bank accounts of the company’s board members, including Marriott family members. Since that day I have never paid for a stay at a Marriott hotel. The Marriotts are prominent donors to Mormon causes, and as far as I know their donations have never been refused or questioned. [I am not suggesting that they should be; my boycott is a personal one].
The first Christmas Eve was memorable because of one Jewish baby, and tonight was memorable because of the efforts of many Jews to define and engage their tradition with intellect and passion. I’m grateful that they allowed me to participate in this dialogue, and look forward to attending the convention’s Christmas Day lectures.
Merry Christmas to my Christian readers and Merry Shabbos to my Jewish ones.
I will be speaking at the Jewish Community Center in Salt Lake City on January 12 at 7:00 p.m. I will also be speaking with Rabbi Alan Cohen in Kansas City on January 16. Single LDS women who love Jews are especially encouraged to attend.
December 22, 2010 | 4:15 pm
Posted by Mark Paredes
BYU students are in luck this academic year. Not only do they have an opportunity to take a comparison course on Judaism and LDS Christianity, but their teacher for both semesters is Dr. Fred Woods. More than 180 students have already signed up for three classes on “Judaism and the Gospel” that will be taught by Fred next semester. I’ve known him for several years and consider him to be one of the most energetic, dedicated teachers on BYU’s religion faculty. He and BYU colleague Dr. Andrew Skinner (the subject of a future profile) are speaking on Mormons and Jews in St. Louis in April of next year; it will be the third in a series of presentations by leaders of the two communities in that city.
Fred was kind enough to take a few minutes from his Christmas preparations this week to answer a few questions about the class.
1) How did you become involved in interfaith work? I was appointed to a Richard L. Evans professorship of Religious Understanding from Fall 2005 to Fall 2010. My background fit this assignment very well inasmuch as I grew up in the melting pot of the LA region, had a family of diverse religious backgrounds and converted to Mormonism as a young adult.
2) How did you develop an interest in Judaism? I have always been interested in Jewish studies inasmuch as I have had an interest in the Bible since I was a boy. I studied in Israel in 1980 and have a PhD in Middle East Studies: Hebrew Bible from the University of Utah. I have been teaching the Bible for the past three decades.
3) What do you plan to discuss in the course? I plan to discuss the basic beliefs and practices of the Jews and use the textbooks on these two topics written by Louis Jacobs.
4) What is the purpose of the course? To help students have a basic understanding of Judaism and compare its teachings with Mormonism.
I am obviously very pleased that more than 360 LDS students will learn about the Jewish-Mormon connection at BYU this year, and I long for the day when Fred and other LDS instructors will be able to teach similar classes at Brandeis, JTS, HUC, Yeshiva University, and other Jewish educational institutions.
A very Merry Christmas to my Christian readers.
I will be speaking on LDS-Jewish relations at the Jewish Community Center in Salt Lake City on January 12 @ 7:00 p.m. I will also be speaking with Rabbi Alan Cohen in Kansas City on January 16. Single LDS women are especially encouraged to attend both lectures.
December 18, 2010 | 6:42 pm
Posted by Mark Paredes
And he [Jacob] blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. – Genesis 48:20
This week’s Torah portion or parsha, Vayechi (Gen. 47:28 – 50:26) is the most important one for Jews seeking to understand Mormons’ views of their place in covenant Israel. Before we get to patriarchal blessings and their promises, a brief summary of the biblical narrative is necessary. As we begin reading the parsha, Jacob the patriarch – also known as Israel – calls his son Joseph to him, tells him that he is about to die, and makes him swear not to leave his body in Egypt. Mormons believe that Joseph inherited the birthright in Israel after Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn) committed a serious sexual transgression (1 Chron. 5:1-2), so it was only proper that Joseph be asked to make this promise on behalf of his brothers.
In the next chapter, Joseph and his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, visit the ailing Jacob. The aged patriarch rises from his sickbed to bless his two grandsons, but while doing so he places his right hand – the favored one for blessings – on the head of Ephraim, the youngest. Joseph is “displeased” (v. 17) and tries to place Jacob’s right hand on the head of Manasseh. Jacob refuses to do this, saying that while both men will become great nations, Ephraim will be greater than his brother (vv. 19-20). Mormons agree with Jeremiah (Jer. 31:9) that Ephraim inherited the birthright from Joseph after his death.
In chapter 49, Jacob pronounces blessings upon each of his 12 sons, then dies. Of particular interest to Mormons are the promises made to Joseph, the birthright son, who receives the longest blessing. Joseph is a “fruitful bough” (great nation) whose “branches run over the wall.” For Mormons, this has reference to the fact that some of Joseph’s descendants would be led to the ancient Americas, where their story is told in the Book of Mormon. During Joseph’s blessing, Jacob also declares that the Messiah would come through his [Jacob’s] bloodline (“from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel”). In modern revelation, Mormons are told that Joseph prophesied in chapter 50 that Moses and Aaron would be his descendants.
Once in his lifetime, a faithful Mormon receives a blessing from a church official known as a patriarch. The blessing is recorded and sent to the recipient, for whom it is considered a personal revelation. The member is told in which tribe of Israel he will receive his spiritual blessings, and he is also given promises, blessings, and warnings that the patriarch feels inspired to give. In many cases, the person is told that he is a literal descendant of the designated tribe. However, regardless of the person’s blood lineage, he is promised the blessings associated with that tribe (and by extension the House of Israel and the Abrahamic covenant) if he leads a worthy life. The first thing that most people do after receiving their patriarchal blessing is to read Genesis chapter 49 to learn more about their tribe’s blessing given by Jacob. Since Ephraim is the birthright tribe, we believe that his descendants have been called to lead the gathering of Israelites in the latter days. As a result, most LDS Church members have been declared to be Ephraimites, including the author of this blog.
Latter-day Saints believe that there are two gatherings of Israelites going on today: the physical gathering of Jews to Israel (and, I would add, to the United States) and the spiritual gathering of Israel led by Ephraim. The two tribes didn’t exactly get along in ancient times, but there is a growing rapprochement in modern times that is heartwarming. It is my belief and hope that blessings from patriarchs both ancient and modern will strengthen bonds between Israelites in modern times much as they did anciently. Shabbat shalom.