On May 9th, the LDS ASU Alumni group, Sun Devil Saints, and Ditat Deus hosted an exceptional interfaith event at Heritage Academy. Attendees enjoyed two speakers, Ariel Picker and Rabbi Pinchas G. Allouche, and a question and answer session on Shabbat observance featuring these two faithful Jewish men.
Chad Heywood, co-founder of the Sun Devil Saints, directly ties this event and others to the mission of Mormons for Israel. During the Israeli Syrian conflict in 2013, there were serious misunderstandings that Mormons for Israel stepped up to clarify through direct support and open communication.Events of this kind are high-impact, and representatives from Rep. Andy Biggs’ office and several prominent community figures attended, including Mesa Mayor John Giles.
Ariel Picker gave his address first, sharing his experience as a member of the Jewish community in Mexico, as well as his friendship with Kirk Adams, Governor Ducey’s Chief of Staff, who helped with the event. Picker contributed to the warm atmosphere of the evening, sharing his feeling of kinship with members of the LDS faith. He expressed gratitude for both religions’ dedication to family values as well as a shared interest in honest, ambitious business endeavors. Kirk Adams’ son is currently serving a mission in Mexico, which strengthened their friendship, and Picker flew to Mesa out of love and respect for his friend and the LDS community.
Respect for and obedience to the law of the Sabbath is one strong tie between the LDS and Jewish faith. This shared doctrinal ground presented an excellent topic for the rest of the event.
Rabbi Allouche began his address by describing the nature of man’s soul through the creation of first, Adam’s body, and then, Adam’s soul. This duality, he explained, is present in everyone and, as we feed and care for our physical selves, our spiritual selves require nurturing as well. This, he says, makes the Shabbat crucial to spiritual wellness and unity with God.
Attendees enjoyed the chance to address the speakers and share their questions. Thomas Greer, of Criterion Public Affairs and the Sun Devil Saints, who helped organize the event, comments, “I came away from hearing the speakers with a kind of holy envy. It really made me want to commit to living our Sabbath day in a better way.”
Brother Greer especially emphasized the community benefits, observing how Shabbat observance ties Jewish families together on a cultural level. Often, even those who leave the Jewish faith continue Shabbat traditions as a matter of family culture rather than strictly religious observance.
Brother Heywood says of what he and others took away from the event, “I know I left feeling renewed, with a greater commitment to making the Sabbath part of my family’s lives, and a delight.”
More events like this are planned, thanks to the Sun Devil Saints and their partners. Follow their Facebook page for event announcements and details on upcoming activities to further education and community causes.