April 2013 Marlena Muchnick
We are All the Family of God, and Come Together in the Temple
This is written by Marlena's husband, Daniel Baker, December 2018. It will have a little bit of a testimony of how events come to happen. How the Lord spiritually enriches the lives of those who loves and serves the Savior.
I have written this as more of a story, because there is a whole story surrounding, and following, this specific event. In my view, it's about how things can happen when we dedicate our hearts to the Lord. I hope it will not seem like I write about me, her, or us. It's unlikely that this page will be discovered unless someone is explicitly directed to it. I hope that context will be seen by anyone who is referenced to this, or who stumbles upon it.
Marlena is a Jewish convert; her ancestry is 100% Jewish, basically from the Berdichev region of Ukraine although she was herself born in the US.
Marlena has given some 50 firesides and presentations ( www.jewishconvert-lds.com ) in the past. She usually has given an excellant talk from a carefully written script. Those talks have been a deep testimony and information about Judaism so the listeners can have understanding of their Jewish friends and neighbors.
Given that breif background, it should be remarkable that on two or three days notice from Daniel Rona, she was asked to speak at B'nai Shalom. She gave her talk 100% spirit driven, from her heart (no script or notes). It was, and still is, the best talk she has ever given.
With deep regrets, we have no notes or recording of that talk. (Only recently have we begun recording, for reference by others who could not attend or for others to learn from.)
But in summary it was about her testimony as a Jewish Convert, how her conversion occurred, about the temple, where we discover who we are and our potential, and grow our spirit. And about how we all come together as a family, with the temple teaching us we are all equal in the sight of God. We are the same family, serve the same God, whether Gentile, Jew, Muslim, Sikh, or whatever. Yes, there are different understandings and such.
We do discuss that theme a lot; from time to time we are enriched by interfaith contacts and events. We discuss and occasionally work to further understanding between major world religions. And we deeply enjoy the greater meaning of the temple.
Here is the start of the "how events sometimes come to happen" part.
I was working in a major telecom corporation. On the Wednesday - that's the day before this B'nai gathering - the company laid off some 450 employees, with severance packages and immediate dismissal from the campus. I was one of them. I call it an involuntary retirement. I was way past retirement age.
The Bnai Shalom election followed her talk. Marlena was elected president of B'nai Shalom for two years, followed by another two years. She proceded to do great work in making the group into an organization with growing membership.
So when she was elected, I was asked to assist her. (This isn't about me, it's about the way the Lord sometimes works.) Working with B'nai, as well as temple, pretty much become my new career, enabled by that layoff (don't misundertand, there is no monitary compensation from B'nai). I have been aiding with membership management, website work, email notifications, and some aid in arranging speakers for events. Marlena established gatherings in the Seattle area. A lot happened that took days and days of work.
Developing understanding between cultures and belief systems of Sons of God (Genesis 5) is a part of the Lords work. It is challenging, educational, and spiritually rewarding.
We seek to have those of Jewish ancestry understand and realize their great value and their full potential within the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ (the great Jehovah), even within the restored spiritual elements of the Temple and under a latter-day prophet.
We seek to help members of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ realize and respect what the Jews have brought them ("What thank ye the Jews..."; 2 Nephi 29:4), in a greater understanding of First Testament, of spiritual significance in the Festivals, and in how all scripture is interlaced in a wonderful tapestry - as President Nelson and Elder Maxwell have specifically stated.
The layoff on Wednesday the day before her talk and election wasn't a coincidence. The Lord made time available to assist in a huge undertaking. It's been a wonderful knowledge enriching trip, with our meeting some wonderful and remarkable people. It's more rewarding and meaningful than.... a lot of things you and I could be doing.A residual article written by Mark Paredes, who formerly had a regular blog on Jewish Journal, about Marlena. https://jewishjournal.com/culture/religion/104805/
Mark has his own impressive history: employment with Jewish organizations, regional public affairs for the Church, and now being a former bishop; read here: Mark spoke in 2007 at our B'nai gathering. Here is a search result for more of his blogs: https://jewishjournal.com/?s=mark+paredes.