The Jewish Star’s Michael Orbach Interviews Lisa

On April 15th, 2010, Michael Orbach of the Jewish Star conducted a Q/A with Lisa:

Michael Orbach: Do Americans believe in heaven?

Lisa Miller: Emphatically yes. Eighty percent of Americans say they believe in heaven, up 10 percentage points from 1997. This is much different from Europe, where in some countries — France, Belgium, the Netherlands — a third of people are atheists. Yet I believe that if they had to answer the question, “What do you believe about heaven,” most people would not have a clear answer.

MO: Do Jews believe in heaven?

LM: Yes! The last of Maimonides “Thirteen Principles of Faith” of course, is the requisite belief in the resurrection of the dead, a belief that at the end of time, the faithful will be resurrected in the World to Come. The Orthodox affirm this belief every morning in the Yigdal prayer. This belief in resurrection — and, by extension — in living with G-d at the end of time, is a fundamentally Jewish idea, born around the time of the Macabbean Revolt (around 167 BCE), based on this verse from the Book of Daniel. “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”