It’s been a while since I posted, but for those who remember, I came on here to get some information about Jehovah’s Witnesses because I have a nephew who was getting engaged to a girl who was a Jehovah’s Witness and, along with some other sites, I was recommended this one.
Since then we’ve been busy with Passover and Jehovah’s Witnesses have had something they call the Memorial of Christ’s Death (I believe I have that right). This clashing of the two observances apparently did more for this girl than anything else I ever saw in our months of conversations with her.
Respectfully, Jews do not proselytize. Yes, there are Jews-by-choice. These are people who, of their own desire, “join the Tribe” after some years of study and practice--something this girl has just begun to do. But prior to this, this girl was definitely heavily proselytizing my nephew and the rest of the family every chance she got (though she admits she thought she was being subtle about it---HA!). This is, from what I understand and from my own experience, what Jehovah’s Witnesses do--preach their unique gospel every chance they get to everyone because "we’ll die without it."
The Passover Date: Nisan 15
What changed everything for this girl was our inviting her over to celebrate Pesach or Passover with us by coming over for Seder. She said that she couldn’t because she would be busy on Saturday night to “observe the Memorial of Christ’s Death on Nisan the 14th.”
When we told her that the 14th of Nisan was on Thursday night after sundown and the Passover began on Friday after sundown, she was taken aback. At first she began to argue with us that we had our dates wrong, that Passover was on Saturday evening. We told her that it was on Friday. She said it had to be on the 14th, and that the 14th was on Saturday.
We showed her the Jewish calendar on our wall, and it clearly demonstrated that the 14th was Thursday evening after sundown, the 15th was Friday night, and that Saturday after sundown was the 16th of Nisan.
She still believed it to be in error (a mass-produced, printed calendar we purchased from a Judaica store). So we showed her Hebcal.com, the Internet Jewish calendar site, and we showed her from there that we were not in error: “Nisan 15, the (1st) Erev (Evening) of Passover, Friday Night. Seder/Candle lighting begins at . . . Local time.”
She then began to panic. “This can’t be right! Saturday has to be the 14th! The full moon will be visible over Jerusalem starting on Saturday night.”
“No,” I replied. “The full moon will be visible over Jerusalem beginning on Friday, the 15th. In fact, if you want, we can make a video call to my family in Jerusalem and we can ask them to show you the sky and you can see for yourself.”
She suddenly calmed down, sat on the sofa in my living room and began to speak softly. “No,” she said. “That is okay. I believe you.”
She did not attend her Memorial of Christ’s Death at her Kingdom Hall or any other meeting after that. She attended her first Passover Seder instead and has been studying Judaism.
JW vs. Jew
Today she is bravely walking down a new path her family doesn’t understand, but she seems to be the voice of power and strength in her household. When they told her that they will reject her and not speak to her if she becomes a Jew, she sat them down and told them they had better not and won’t allow their rejection if they know what’s good for them. I was there when she did this, and I’ve never seen a father (who was a man twice her size) cower to such a tiny person. She has a strong personality. (I don’t know if officially this will work. I doubt it, but this girl’s got fire.)
Still, despite her determination it is not coming easy, and I am glad. She is learning that she cannot accept things at face value as she did when she was a Jehovah’s Witness. It confuses her at times because she expects there to be a Bible verse for everything, and there isn’t. At least she has come to accept that this will take much time to understand where she is going and what she is learning.
For instance, we belong to the Reconstructing Judaism movement and our views are very different from what she has known as a Jehovah’s Witness. I share a few here so you who have been or still are Jehovah’s Witnesses might see what she is switching over to (JW view--from her--in bold):
God is a Spirit person.
God is not a person.
The Bible is the inspired Word of God, written by humans as direct instruments of God.
The Bible is a collection of writings of the Jewish people’s attempt to understand God, written by themselves, an ancient means of trying to comprehend the concept of God or what is godly through myth, fable, and history romanticized as liturgy and poetry.
There is one true religion, and those who follow it are God’s chosen.
There is no true religion, and not even the Jews are God’s chosen people. Judaism is a community and a people, and religion is but part of its cultural expression.
You must use God’s name in order for God to hear your prayers.
There is no indication that the Divine Name was ever pronounced or preserved. God is not a supernatural entity that literally hears prayers like a genie or fairy that grants wishes. Prayer is a means to connect with God, community, and even self on a spiritual level. As the old Jewish proverb goes: “Pray as if it all depends on God, but act as if it all depends on you.”
Without faith in God, one cannot practice the religion of God.
Many people reject God because they understand God as a being that can break the laws of nature and act like a person. The current theology of Judaism does not require that God be believed in or be supernatural or an entity, and this allows for many who practice Judaism to be atheist at the same time.
The main goal of worshiping God is to gain everlasting life.
Jews don’t worship God or do good or pray to gain eternal life. Many don’t even believe in the concept of an afterlife. There is good in doing good itself right now. Because God is often found not so much in some external spiritual experience as much as in some practical experience wherein we meet the real need of someone, bring about justice, care for someone, love someone, God is not so much where but when. So some Jews don’t see reward as something future but present when we strive to bring redemption to the world even now. Waiting to participate in eternity after we are dead is too late in the eyes of some when we can participate in it by doing something godly right now.
So things have changed dramatically for my nephew and his once-JW friend. As I wrote previously, I don’t get away often and have the free time to do so but I did want to add this here.
I will have to ask her one day just exactly what it was about the date that acted so dramatically upon her that made all this happen. It caused such panic in her originally, such fearful panic, then a panic of denial, and then immediate acceptance. It was very quick. But, after all, it was still just a date on a calendar. Maybe some of you will know more about this than me because of your experience as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I am also not sure why Jehovah’s Witnesses are claiming to follow the Jewish calendar for Christ’s Last Supper but ignoring the actual calendar itself when it’s available everywhere in this day and age on things like the Internet, again such as on Hebcal.com. I can understand them being stubborn and even claiming that the world is wrong and under Satan’s control and everything, but ignoring an actual calendar and being two whole days off? How do they get away with it?
Thanks for reading.