Questionnaire reportage of Gidon Ariel - Root Source
Author: Gidon Ariel

Published Date: April 23, 2017

Around January 2017, I was asked by a foreign documentarian to be interviewed. The interview ultimately didn’t take place, but he asked me some initial questions that I though our Root Source readers would like to have a chance to see.

What is Judaism for you?

Judaism is my identity. My way of life. It is a conglomerate of hundreds and thousands of years of factors, social, legal, philosophical, that apply to the Jewish People, and most importantly in the last generation when the Holocaust happened and the State of Israel was founded and flourished. It is a faith and relationship with God, a commitment to a set of laws initiated with the Revelation at Sinai and developed over the millennia through a system that grew naturally and dynamically.

What is, according to you, the central message in Judaism?

Believe in God, follow His commandments, be nice to others

Tell me about your experiences connected to your religion (good or bad) that have affected you as a person the most.

When I was around 10, my parents transferred me from the Jewish elementary school I had attended since 1st grade to a public school (probably for financial reasons). This made me reconsider my religion and decide that I would adopt it as binding.

Around the same time, I joined Bnei Akiva, a religious Zionist Jewish youth movement, which supported this decision, and introduced to me the importance of State of Israel must have in my Jewish identity. Ultimately, by my 15th birthday, I moved to Israel and attended an intensive religious high school, and afterwards a post-high school religious academy (called a yeshiva) which prepared me spiritually for army service, which I completed as well. I consider Israeli army service, to defend the citizens’ lives, is a religious imperative.

Between my moving to Israel (called aliyah, literally moving up, and also a religious imperative) and my getting married some 20 years later, I frequently was a guest at a family shabbat festive meal. Seeing these many families and experiencing the beautiful Shabbat were wonderful religious experiences that my family continues to observe and share.

Which religious traditions do you observe?

All the traditions/commandments/rules that comprise Orthodox Judaism. There are books and encyclopedias that list and describe these, it is much too much to try to answer in a short question.
See these for a start:
http://www.jewfaq.org/tocdeeds.htm
http://www.jewfaq.org/toctimes.htm
http://www.jewfaq.org/tocevents.htm
It is important to note that Judaism recognizes that no one is perfect, sincere striving to observe religion is considered observance.

Tell me about what you prefer to spend your time on when you are not working.

I like speaking to Christian groups visiting Israel, telling them about my life, Judaism and Israel, and fielding their questions.
I like travelling around Israel, the beautiful country.
I sometimes go to the Knesset (Israel parliament) and other political meetings; I am an active member of the Likud Central Committee.

Have you encountered prejudices because of your religion or ethnicity? Any specific situations you remember?

Barely if at all. But Judaism has a long history and tradition of others hating us, it is ingrained into the Jewish psyche. I personally try to overcome this and reach out and establish friendly relationships with others, like Christians and Arabs.

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