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More alike than you think: Mormons and Jews

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 1 2015 2:48 p.m. MDT

Paul Cook reads along with the passover program at Paul Cook reads along with the passover program at "A Passover for Joseph and Judah," a passover event showing links between Jews and Mormons on April 10, 2009. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News)

Large families, dietary restrictions and modest dress are a few of the similarities author Rabbi Perry Tirschwell noted in his article, “Our Friends the Mormons” that ran on The Jewish Press.com on Aug. 29.

“Orthodox Jews surprisingly have much in common with one of the fastest growing religions in the United States — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), colloquially known as the Mormons,” Tirschwell wrote in the article.

The piece touched on common practices between Orthodox Jews and Mormons, including paying tithing and sending “their children away after high school for one or two years to experience spiritual growth.”

Even concerning membership numbers, the two religions parallel each other. According to the article, both Jews and Mormons have 14 million members worldwide, and 6 million members within the United States.

Tirschwell also clarified misunderstandings Jews may have toward Mormons regarding the BYU Jerusalem Center as well as posthumous baptisms of Holocaust victims.

“The church uses its Mt. Scopus facility to inspire its own members with a love of Israel and is committed to not proselytizing in Israel,” Tirschwell wrote. “And the church also forbade these posthumous baptisms.”

The article explains that Tirschwell and other Jews met with two LDS apostles and a member of the Seventy in Utah.

“They provided and ate kosher food with us and offered to drive us to minyan at the Chabad of Utah,” Tirschwell said. “Neither they nor we brought up matters of theology. We spoke exclusively about issues of common cause such as the increasing secularization of American society, legislation, and how to keep our youth in our respective folds.”

Tirschwell spoke positively about his interactions with Mormons.

“I learned that the Mormons have great respect for Jews and the state of Israel and truly want to help us. We should work toward building bridges to the LDS in our local areas, as these people share many of our values, ideals and concerns, and essentially are our allies,” Tirschwell wrote in his article.

Abby Stevens is a writer for the DeseretNews.com Faith and Family sections. She is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University–Idaho. Contact her at astevens@deseretdigital.com.

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