RiDL form #8

RiDL form

Religion in Daily Life Report
Title of  document or event: Hillel Club Meeting & Elections
Reporter: Brian Levy
Date, Time of the Event  Wednesday, April 27 · 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Report Citation: N/A
Please provide a short summary of this event:  During this meeting we discussed future events and elected the executive board for the next academic year. You listening to the new Treasurer of Hillel!
How did this document, event display the role of religion in daily life? I am now the treasurer, so with these elections came an added responsibility and a bigger  part of the Hillel family.
How did this document, event reflect diversity in human life? It changed up the leadership of the club.
How did it reflect/influence your studies at Eastern? It’s not only building my resume, but making my time here at Eastern.
What do you want to learn, do after participating in this event or with this document? How to run the finance department of a club effectively.
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RiDL form #7

RiDL form

Religion in Daily Life Report
Title of  document or event
Reporter:  Chocolate Sedar
Date, Time of the Event:  Wednesday, April 13 – 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Report Citation:  N/A
Please provide a short summary of this event:  This was a Passover Seder, where everything is chocolate!
How did this document, event display the role of religion in daily life? The event was a traditional Jewish Passover Seder in the Knight house. The entire tradition of the passover seder was recreated using chocolate, and because normally we all do this separately with our families but could not do so because we are at college, Hillel decided to have a seder of our own.
How did this document, event reflect diversity in human life? This event spread the awareness of Judaism’s passover seder by hosting a seder where everyone who wanted could attend.
How did it reflect/influence your studies at Eastern? It provided a sense of family here at Eastern by hosting a traditional family event.
What do you want to learn, do after participating in this event or with this document That not too many non Jewish people have seen a passover seder in person before.
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RiDL form #6

Religion in Daily Life Report
Title of  document or event  Hilel Club Meeting
Reporter:  Brian Levy
Date, Time of the Event
Wednesday, April 13 · 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Report Citation:  N/A
Please provide a short summary of this event: This was a meeting of Eastern Connecticut State Hillel. Discussed in this meeting were the Purim carnivals and future Shabbat Dinners.
How did this document, event display the role of religion in daily life This meeting helped me coordinate when and what I would be doing to spread awareness regarding the Jewish culture. This meeting was also a relaxing change of pace from the daily grind of classes.
How did this document, event reflect diversity in human life? This event brought Jewish students and non Jewish students together to plan future events for Hillel.
How did it reflect/influence your studies at Eastern?  It was a relaxing break to the daily grind of classes. The balance of strong extra-curricular activities makes your school work that much easier.
What do you want to learn, do after participating in this event or with this document? I wish to enjoy the nice shabbat dinner at the knight house the Friday following this meeting.
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RiDL form #5

RiDL form

Religion in Daily Life Report
Title of  document or event:  Purim Carnival
Reporter: Brian Levy
Date, Time of the Event
Wednesday, March 16 · 5:00pm – 6:30pm
Report Citation:  N/A
Please provide a short summary of this event: This was a carnival for the Jewish holiday of Purim. It was a mini carnival with games, free food and lots of prizes! You could decorate a mask or win a goldfish too! You could wear a costume if you wanted, but it was optional.
How did this document, event display the role of religion in daily life? The Hillel here at Eastern put on a display of Jewish tradition by putting on a Purim carnival that we all grew up going to. It was in the student center and open to the public. Through the carnival we were able to spread awareness of the Purim holidays to those who had no idea it necessarily existed.
How did this document, event reflect diversity in human life? The carnival was open to the public and was in the student center with a giant poster outside. Because of this a lot of non Jewish observers came in and learned a lot about Purim
How did it reflect/influence your studies at Eastern? This helped me relax after a stressful day of classes. It also let spread some of my traditions to those on campus whom I had never met before.
What do you want to learn, do after participating in this event or with this document? I wish to learn more and more about Judaism.

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WRIT Table

WRIT Table

Group World Religions Information Table (WRIT)
Range of religious thought responses
1) Name of religion – how did it get the name?  When did the religion start?  Who started the religion? – provide some details on life of founder(s)  The word ‘Jain’ comes from the word ‘Jina’ which means a conqueror. ‘Jina’ comes from the root ‘Ji’—’to conquer’. It means conquering the passions. The passions are considered as enemies of the soul. They taint the natural qualities of the soul, obscure right belief, cause false knowledge and wrong conduct. Lust, anger, pride and greed are considered as the major passions.Parshvanatha, the twenty-third Tirthankar, is the earliest Jain leader who can be reliably dated. As noted, however, Jain mythology asserts that the line of Tirthankars in the present era began with Rushabhdeva; moreover, Jains themselves believe that Jainism has no single founder, and that it has always existed and will always exist, although it is occasionally forgotten by humans.

It is generally accepted that Jainism started spreading in south India from the 3rd century BC. i.e. since the time when Badrabahu, a preacher of this religion and the head of the monks’ community, came to Karnataka from Bihar.

2) what is the geographic range of  religion?, what language(s) are used in the  religion? Jains live throughout India. Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat have the largest Jain populations among Indian states. Karnataka, Bundelkhand and Madhya Pradesh have relatively large Jain populations.There is a large following in Punjab, especially in Ludhiana and Patiala, and there used to be many Jains in Lahore (Punjab’s historic capital) and other cities before the Partition of 1947, after which many fled to India. There are many Jain communities in different parts of India and around the world. They may speak local languages or follow different rituals but essentially they follow the same principles.

Outside India, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda) have large Jain communities. The first Jain temple to be built outside India was constructed and consecrated in the 1960s in Mombasa, Kenya by the local Gujarati community, although Jainism in the West mostly came about after the Oshwal and Jain diaspora spread to the West in the late 1970s and 1980s. Jainism is presently a strong faith in the United States, and several dozen Jain temples have been built there, primarily by the Gujarati community. American Jainism accommodates all the sects. Smaller Jain communities exist in Nepal, South Africa, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Fiji, and Suriname. In Belgium, the very successful Indian diamond community, almost all of whom are Jain, are also establishing a temple to strengthen Jain values in and across Western Europe.

3) any holy books? – describe the literature Kalpasutra · Agama · Tattvartha Sutra · Sanmatti Prakaran
4) are there any divisions, different denominations, among the faithful? Jain sangha is divided into two major sects, Digambar and Svetambar.

The differences between the two sects are minor and relatively obscure.

Digambar Jain monks do not wear clothes because they believe clothes, like other possessions, increase dependency and desire for material things, and desire for anything ultimately leads to sorrow. Svetambar Jain monks, on the other hand, wear white, seamless clothes for practical reasons, and believe there is nothing in Jain scripture that condemns wearing clothes.

5) do faithful form communities?, how & when do they meet? Jains live throughout India.Outside India, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda) have large Jain communities.

In Belgium, the very successful Indian diamond community, almost all of whom are Jain, are also establishing a temple to strengthen Jain values in and across Western Europe.

6) describe a religious service.  Please include internet links to examples, if available. Jains practice Samayika, which is a Sanskrit word meaning equanimity. During this practice, they remain calm and undisturbed. This helps in recollecting the teachings of Thirthankars and discarding sinful activities for a minimum of 48 minutes.
7) what is the role of music, dance, art in the  religion? N/A
8.) describe the religious calendar.  What are the religion’s sacred times?  Jainism’s holiday revolve around  a lunar calenderhttp://www.hinduism.co.za/moon3.htm
9) do the faithful have dietary restrictions?, other life-style restrictions?,  do the faithful have dress restrictions or distinctive clothing for certain life cycle events?, Is special jewelry or make-up worn? Jains are strict vegetarians. They avoid eating root vegetables in general, as cutting root from a plant kills it unlike other parts of the plant ( leaf, fruit, seed etc). Furthermore, according to Jain texts, root vegetables contain infinite microorganisms called nigodas. Followers of Jain dharma eat before the night falls. They filter water regularly so as to remove any small insects that may be present and boil (and may cool) the water prior to consumption, as heated water will not be the suitable base for micro organisms to develop immediately.
10) are there any special rituals at home?, grace at meals?, prayers? Jain monks and nuns practice strict asceticism and strive to make their current birth their last, thus ending their cycle of transmigration.[44]The lay men and women also pursue the same five major vows to the limited extent depending on their capability and circumstances. Following the primary non-violence vow, the laity usually choose professions that revere and protect life and totally avoid violent livelihoods.Jain monks and nuns walk barefoot and sweep the ground in front of them to avoid killing insects or other tiny beings.

Preparation for Prayer

  • Body Cleansing: A bath should be taken before the prayer. A clean body prepares and assists the mind to be in spiritual mode. This is also symbolic of washing one’s dirt or karmas. In order to assist in the meditative process place saffron paste or sandal paste on ring finger and anoint the forehead. This may be applied to earlobes, neck and other acupressure parts of the body.
  • Clothes: Simple, clean washed clothes are worn. White clothing is preferred. Traditionally, men wear non-stitched cloths (dhotis and khes).
11) how is the religion organized?, describe its leadership.  Temples all around India, Western Europe and the United States
12) describe the nature of the good & evil in the religion.  describe the nature of the sacred/divine in the religion. Jains do not believe in the concept of a God-head responsible for the manifestation of the Creation and Maintenance of Creation. The universe however keeps changing due to interactions between matter and energy in the course of time and governed by laws of nature with no necessity of a co-ordinator/regulator.
13) describe the nature of the good life & ethical behavior in the religion. Karma in Jainism is something material (karmapaudgalam), which produces certain conditions, like a medical pill has many effects.[32] The effects of karma in Jainism is therefore a system of natural laws rather than moral laws. When one holds an apple in one’s hand and then lets go of the apple, the apple will fall due to gravitational force. In this example, there is no moral judgment involved, since this is a mechanical consequence of a physical action.[33] The concept of Karma in Jainism is basically a reaction due to the attachment or aversion with which an activity (both positive and negative) is executed in thought, verbal and physical sense. Extending on the example outlined, the same apple dropped within a zero gravity environment such as a spacecraft circling around earth, will float in its place. Similarly, when one acts without attachment and aversion there will be no further karmic bonding to the soul.
14) what is the nature of forgiveness in the religion?, forgiveness of self?, seeking and granting forgiveness from other individuals?, other peoples?, are there any rituals for forgiveness? Jainism prescribes mainly two methods for shedding karmas (Nirjara), accumulated by the soul.

  • Passive Method – By allowing past karmas to ripen in due course of time and experiencing the results, both good and bad with equanimity. If the fruits of the past karmas are received with attachment or with agitation then the soul earns fresh karmic bondages. It is also not possible for the soul to know before-hand when and which karma will start to produce results. Therefore, a person should practice equanimity under all circumstances.
  • Active Method – By practicing internal and external austerities (penances or tapas) so as to accelerate the ripening process as well as reducing the effects produced. This is the recommended approach as it prepares and conditions the soul and reminds one to be vigilant.
15) what is the range of political thought among believers? Extremely Liberal; Peace keeping & nonviolent
16) what is the role of social activism  in the religion? While Jains represent less than 1% of the Indian population, their contributions to culture and society in India are significant. Jainism had a major influence in developing a system of philosophy and ethics that had a great impact on all aspects of Indian culture. Scholarly research and evidences have shown that philosophical concepts considered typically Indian – Karma, Ahimsa, Moksa, reincarnation and like – either originate in the sramana school of thought or were propagated and developed by Jaina and Buddhist teachers.
17) how does the religion provide outreach within the community?, to others? Jains have also contributed to the culture and language of the Indian states Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
18) what are the religious attitudes towards education and peace? Indian religion that prescribes pacifism and a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state of supreme being is called Jina (Conqueror or Victor). Jainism is also referred to as Shraman (self-reliant) Dharma or the religion of Nirgantha (who does not have attachments and aversions) by ancient texts.
19) describe the nature of the afterlife in the religion. Reincarnation and Kharma
20) how does the religion envision the end of time, the last days of humankind?  N/A
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THE CATCHER WAS A SPY: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg

This book I chose to further my higher education with over break is the true story of a Jewish ballplayer who was anything but. The Catcher Was A Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg, by Nicholas Dawidoff, is the autobiography of Moe Berg. Berg, at a glance, seems like just another journey- men, defensive catcher in Major League Baseball in the 1950’s. However, what you do not about Moe could well fill a book. He was extremely intelligent and prior to his career on the diamond, attended NYU and Princeton where he graduated Cum Laude studying modern languages. He later he attended Colombia where he earned a law degree. All these impressive accomplishments are just the start for Moe Berg.

For baseball players, especially Major League players, this was unprecedented. Most players were considered unintelligent because they had received little or no formal schooling being signed either out of high school or while in high school. So, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1942, and World War II had begun, Berg, who is fluent in seven languages (Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Latin, and Sanskrit), picked up the proverbial white courtesy phone, and joined the OSS (Agency that preceded CIA). Berg was extremely valuable as a spy and went on countless missions in Europe and Africa. After the war, Berg was sent South America to prevent developing countries from adapting Communist ideologies.

This book is the amazing story of a Jewish- American who made the most out of hard times. Despite the holocaust going on in Europe, Berg, found a way to stand up for his beliefs and serve his country while doing so. He’s personally a role model not only for having a long Major League Baseball career, but for standing up and using his intelligence to fight injustice in the world, without any recognition whatsoever. Berg, unfortunately after living an interesting life, and having a lustrous career, in both government and Baseball, could not find success after World War II. He declined coaching offers from various teams, and never joined a law firm, living out the rest of his life with family.

This story does not have a happy ending. However, that really did not bother Berg. When asked if he’d wasted his intelligence on baseball, he replied, “I’d rather be a Major League Baseball player, than a Justice in the United States Supreme Court.”

I can relate to this story almost too much. I was never a spy in a War, but throughout my life, my love for the sport of baseball has trumped any other responsibility or opportunity that has come up. In high school, I had the opportunity to join a number of different clubs. I finally joined Model Congress, my senior year, and discovered that I should have joined years earlier. For my college process, I picked schools where playing the sport I loved was an option. Instead of looking at colleges that were a tad bigger in size or that were further away, I stayed close with somewhat small schools with the hopes of being recruited to play baseball. In hindsight, maybe I should have done things a little differently. This book really made me take a good look my system of core beliefs that have shaped my life so far. This story is a wake up call that shows life can change in the blink of an eye.

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Mid Year Reflection

 

This semester in World Religions has been interesting to say the least. On the first day of class, I had no idea what to think. My senior year in high school, I had taken a course titled, “ World Views,” which was about the world’s theologies and philosophies as they relate to daily life. So, when I signed up for the course I figured it would be something similar. So far, I have been pleasantly surprised by the differences in the two courses. Whereas World Views used film, literature, and current events to cover the material, this course is more speaker oriented. Which is, through my eyes a good thing because despite all being experts in his or her respective fields, not everyone can teach a class. Some of the speakers we have had were better and more intellectually stimulating than others.

One of the concerns I have regarding this class is the diversity at which we cover all the religions. It seems like Christianity and its different sects have made up more class time than say some of the Eastern religions and Islam. I feel as if we should cover the religions people don’t have any common knowledge about first, and Western religions such as Christianity and Judaism later on. Another thing I’m slightly bugged by is how some speakers preach instead of teach. I understand that the chosen speaker is giving a lecture on his religion, however the presenter should not impart his views upon us, the students. Other than these minor grievances, the class is great way to begin my Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

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RiDL form

RiDL form #4

Religion in Daily Life Report

Title of document or event

Eastern Connecticut State University Hillel Meeting

Reporter:

Brian Levy

Date, Time of the Event

Wednesday, February 23 · 3:00pm – 4:00pm

Report Citation:

N/A

Please provide a short summary of this event:

During this meeting we discussed the upcoming Shabbat dinner, as long with trips to UConn to visit their Hillel chapter.

How did this document, event display the role of religion in daily life?

This meeting was solely based on pairing up with those with beliefs close to my own. These trips will be a great way to meet new people, and expand my faith.

How did this document, event reflect diversity in human life?

The reason for Hillel going up to UConn is to raise money for some charitable cause. Teaming up with UConn will make our contribution that much greater.

How did it reflect/influence your studies at Eastern?

This will help me further develop my skills regarding interpersonal relations.

What do you want to learn, do after participating in this event or with this document?

How other universities Hillel chapters operate, and how many there are throughout the country.

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RiDL form

RiDL form #3

Religion in Daily Life Report

Title of document or event

February Friday Night Shabbat Dinner

Reporter:

Brian Levy

Date, Time of the Event

Friday, February 11 · 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Report Citation:

N/A

Please provide a short summary of this event:

This Shabbat dinner was one of my favorites this semester. The featured meal was Lox and bagels. Despite not being very big on salmon, I truly enjoyed the meal, and people who attended. This time a few more people who weren’t Jewish came to share some food and some laughs.

How did this document, event display the role of religion in daily life?

These dinners provide students such as myself and many others with one of the cornerstone’s of Judaism, community. Hillel features an eclectic bunch of fun people.

How did this document, event reflect diversity in human life?

As true with al Hillel events, they are open to everyone Jewish or not.

How did it reflect/influence your studies at Eastern?

This dinner in particular gave me a good outlook towards the weekend ahead from the fun atmosphere from dinner.

What do you want to learn, do after participating in this event or with this document?

Still take a walk down to check out Rab Jeremy’s Synagogue.

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RiDL form

RiDL form #2

Religion in Daily Life Report
Title of document or event Eastern Connecticut State University Hillel Meeting
Reporter: Brian Levy
   
Date, Time of the Event Wednesday, January 26 · 3:00pm – 4:00pm
   
Report Citation: N/A
   
Please provide a short summary of this event: This is a weekly meeting of Hillel Club here at Eastern. The meetings often consist of suggestions for events and upcoming plans for the semester. However, the talk usually turns to religion as soon as the planning process finishes.
   
How did this document, event display the role of religion in daily life? It’s a weekly meeting of mostly Jewish students who discuss upcoming religious events, along with current events, and Jewish life here on campus.
   
How did this document, event reflect diversity in human life? Meetings often bring together students who are and are not Jewish. It’s a great way to meet people.
   
How did it reflect/influence your studies at Eastern?  

Hillel has given me yet another way to broaden my horizons and involvement here at Eastern Connecticut State University. I’m glad I have found a way to reconnect with my religion.

   
What do you want to learn, do after participating in this event or with this document? I would love to take a walk down to Willimantic and check out the Reconstructionist synagogue with Rab Jeremery.

 

 

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