Student balances Jewish faith, family and academics

by Apr 11, 2013 3:26 pm Tags: , , , , , ,

A Passover seder plate is set on the dinner table that holds symbolic foods eaten during the holiday. Carolyn Seng / Spartan Daily

A Passover seder plate is set on the dinner table that holds symbolic foods eaten during the holiday. Carolyn Seng / Spartan Daily

He sings with the glee club, concert choir, the Choraliers and an a capella group on campus.

He plays hockey and baseball.

He helps out with events for Hillel of Silicon Valley and Spartans for Israel, both of which offer trips to Israel for students.

He is Eric Medeiros, a graduate student in educational counseling.

“He's a terrific student and a great singer," said Jeffrey Benson, director of choral activities at SJSU. "He’s always upbeat and positive and ready to work hard. He’s a great student overall."

Medeiros said he would also like to be involved in singing at his synagogue, Temple Emanu-El in San Jose, where he sometimes teaches children, but his busy schedule clashes with their rehearsals.

Medeiros said he likes to be involved in a chorus because it takes many people working together to make one sound.

This concept of community is something that is also important in his religion, he said.

Medeiros said he considers himself a reform Jew.

According to Medeiros, the three types of Judiasm are: orthodox, conservative and reform.

He said followers of Orthodox Judaism, which is the most religious form of Judaism, believe the Torah, the religious book of Judaism, was written by God and they follow everthing exactly as it was written.

He said that reform Jews interpret things the way they want and follow the parts of the religion that match their personal lifestyle and they acknowledge that the Torah could have been written by man instead of God, he said.

Medeiros said many reform Jews are not kosher.

According to Medeiros, kosher is a term used to describe someone who does not eat milk and meat together in the same meal and who does not eat pork or shellfish.

He said he is not kosher because he was not raised kosher and those laws were made 5,000 years ago and some things in the Torah were meant to be followed 5,000 years ago, and not today.

There are certain reasons for this rule, Medeiros said.

He said 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, pigs were dirty and shellfish rested at the bottom of the ocean, so it was not sanitary to eat them.

Eating milk and meat in the same meal is forbidden because it is like adding insult to injury to the cow, he said.

This is because someone takes the milk from the cow and drinks it, then kills the cow and eats the meat, he said.

According to Medeiros, conservative Judaism is in between the two.

Medeiros said the most important holidays are called the High Holy days in September.

These include  the Rosh Hashana, Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement when many Jews fast for 25 hours.

“There’s a huge misconception that Hanukkah is the most important holiday,” he said.

Medeiros said he celebrated Passover, his favorite Jewish holiday, over spring break.

He said it involved getting together with family and telling the story of Moses and the Ten Plagues of Egypt.

They also ate a big meal, called a seder, that is traditionally on the first night of Passover, he said.

According to Medeiros, this holiday always corresponds with Easter and is eight days long.

Medeiros said all Jewish holidays go from sundown of the first day to sundown of the last day.

According to Medeiros, the meal usually features a seder plate that goes in the middle of the table with matzah, which is “basically like a big cracker,” an apple and nut dish called charoset, parsley dipped in salt water that “represents the tears of the slave” and wine.

“Wine is a big part of Judiasm,” he said.

He said it is used to say a blessing and it adds to the occasion of holidays.

Medeiros attended a few seders over the holiday and held one for his friends, he said.

“I really, really like being Jewish,” he said. “I want to have a Jewish family someday. "


Match: Israel and others.
  <scr" +="" ipt="" type="text/javascript"> Is·ra·el2 (ĭz'rē-əl) pronunciation
A country of southwest Asia on the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It was established in 1948 following the British withdrawal from Palestine, which had been divided by recommendation of the United Nations into Jewish and Arab states. Discord with neighboring Arab countries that had rejected the UN partition led to numerous wars, notably in 1948-1949, 1956-1957, 1967, and 1973. In the Six-Day War of 1967 Israel occupied the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jerusalem's Old City, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. The Golan Heights and Jerusalem were later annexed, and the Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1982. A 1993 Israeli-Palestinian accord granted limited Palestinian autonomy in the Gaza Strip, and a similar accord calling for Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank was signed in 1994. Jerusalem is the capital and Tel Aviv-Yafo the largest city. Population: 6,430,000.

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