Mary Jo Adams, from Reno, Nevada, USA, chose as her first Wilmette course Exploring the Hebrew Bible 2016 (Lead Faculty Ted Brownstein), which provided rich themes to discuss with her Jewish family and details to share at a Feast. She plans to organize her notes for a presentation to one or more friends. For an art project, she, tongue in cheek, is contemplating “a nice fat golden calf!”
“In reviewing my Personal Learning Plan, I am happy with how the course has gone for me. I was able to learn and digest the major teachings/themes of the readings covered in the course and have had discussions about them with Jewish family members. I have a deeper understanding of holy days, such as Passover and Purim. At the last Feast I shared with the friends many things from the class I thought they would find interesting, from calling the Tanakh the Hebrew Bible in the spirit of ecumenicalism as opposed to Old Testament, along with some of the learnings I found most enlightening—namely, how the laws of the Israelites differed from other groups of the same eras in their fairness (same punishment regardless of transgressing by an upper-class person or by a slave; less “state sanctioned” violence—for example, if your ox kills a child, your child does not have to be put to death).
“I also shared some of the Bahá’í insights on the readings about Adam and Eve to the different stations of prophets to the writings on Job. These readings, mostly from Some Answered Questions, were very satisfyingly understandable and lent much clarity. I enjoyed the forums; one of my favorite posts was one of my own about the racial acceptance the Jews displayed and how that is similar to the Bahá’í Faith. I have a new appreciation for the scholars who painstakingly study and analyze archeological finds and help the rest of us understand and have perspective on ancient writings. I think I understand that, although some of the Bible stories happened, others were written to teach lessons. I relate to the People of the Book in their difficulty in following the straight path, finding comfort in God’s mercy and fear in the tales of His punishment.”
As a postscript, Mary Jo wrote this:
“I wish to add an insight I didn’t mention: Seeing how Moses’ time shepherding aided his task of leading the Jews through the desert; and David’s experiences protecting his flock gave him skills to defeat Goliath; and Esther, an exiled orphan, ended up in a position to save her people called to mind the following from Bahá’u’lláh’s Hidden Words (Arabic No. 18):
“O Son of Spirit! Ask not of Me that which We desire not for thee, then be content with what We have ordained for thy sake, for this is that which profiteth thee, if therewith thou dost content thyself.”