Introduction The teachings of Judaism have been the foundations for religions such as Christianity and Islam. Judaism is the oldest known monotheistic religion that is still practiced in the world today. Judaism is an Abrahamic religion “faiths which recognize Abraham as a Patriarch” (Robinson, 2005). Abraham is known to be the founder of Judaism because of his covenant with God. Moses is also considered a founder of Judaism because of his delivery of the Ten Commandments from Mt. Sinai sometime around 2000 BC (Robinson, 2005).
This paper addresses Judaism’s country of origin, historical figures, historical events, central beliefs, nature of God, sacred texts, rituals and practices, holiday’s, Judaism today, the comparison of Judaism and Christianity, and an interview with a member of the Judaism religion. Country of Origin Judaism was founded in Mesopotamia (Israel) around 1300 BC. Today, its main locations are in Israel, Europe, and the United States. Historical Figures There have been quite a few historical figures of Judaism such as Abraham “the first patriarch” and King Solomon “the builder of the first temple in Jerusalem”.
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Adolf Hitler is one of the more rememberable historical figures of Judaism. He is the cause of the Holocaust. Because of Hitler’s actions, millions of Jews were murdered by Hitler’s Nazi party. Historical Events There is one major historical event that many people can recall and that is the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party were the promoters of the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party blamed the Jews for all of Germany’s problems. They considered Jews to be unpure and not genetically ideal. Hitler claimed that Germany could not regain its health until all Jews were stripped of their positions or forced to leave Germany.
Many Jews left the country, leaving everything behind. Those who stayed hoped that it would end. Acts of violence against Jews in Germany grew as Hitler gained power. Laws were passed that separated Jews from others and took their rights away from them. Jews were forced to wear yellow or white badges with the Star of David on them to single them out. Hitler assigned special groups to slaughter Jews. Jews were also transported to concentration camps in cattle cars. There they were starved, worked to death, tortured, experimented on, and/or shipped to death camps.
The death camps were the “Final Solution”, the total elimination of all Jews in Europe. By its end, an estimated six million Jews had been murdered by the Nazis. Nature of God The Jewish people believe that God is formless. God is neither male nor female because God has no physical form. God is a unity (a single, whole, complete indivisible entity). God is in all places at all times and can do anything. God has no beginning and no end. He will always be here to fulfill his promises. Judaism maintains that we are all God’s children. Central Beliefs Judaism consists of several central beliefs.
The main belief is that there is one God. God is also believed to be the creator of the universe and the ruler of it. Next is the belief of the covenant between God and the Jewish people. They also believe that goodness and obedience will be rewarded and sin will be punished by God’s judgment after death (ORACLE’, 2007). Finally, they believe that at the end of the world, God will send the Messiah to redeem the Jews and deliver them to their Promised Land (ORACLE’, 2007). Sacred Texts Judaism consists of three sacred texts. These include the Torah, Tanakh, and the Talmund.
The Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible and known to Christians as the Old Testament, is where Jewish history begins. The first five books are of the Torah. The Tanakh includes the stories of Creation, the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, and the Tower of Babel. The Talmund was written after the temple of Jerusalem was captured and destroyed and the people were scattered apart. The Talmund is a codified summary of Jewish law and lore. These books date back from the 10th to 2nd century BCE and were mostly written in Hebrew. Rituals and Practices There are different rituals and practices in the Judaism religion.
Some of them are the Sabbath, Bar Mitzvah, circumcision, and what they eat. The Jewish Sabbath observes the unending covenant between God and the Jews. It begins at sunset Friday night and last until sunset Saturday night. All work is to stop when the Sabbath begins. Friday night is the time to drop all your cares away that you have from the previous week to be carefree and peaceful for Saturday “the day of rest”. They usually begin the Sabbath with a special dinner on Friday night. They eat special braided bread called Challah as a symbol of the double portions of manna in the desert.
The Sabbath day (Saturday) is for public prayer, study, friendship, and family closeness. Bar Mitzvah recognizes the coming of age, at thirteen, in Jewish boys. The boy reads a portion of the Torah and recites, in Hebrew, a passage from one of the books of the prophets. Then there will be a party thrown with blessings of wine and cake. This is a welcoming to adult responsibilities. Boys are circumcised when they are eight days old. This is done to honor the seal of God’s commandment to Abraham. Jews eat warm-blooded animals with cloven hoofs, which chew their cud, such as cows, goats, and sheep.
They can eat poultry, except birds of prey. All meat must be butchered with a sharp, smooth knife by an authorized Jewish slaughter. Meat and milk cannot be eaten together. Holiday’s Passover commemorates the Exodus from Egypt. Passover is celebrated for seven or eight days and it begins on the night of a full moon in April. Passover usually overlaps with Easter. Most Jews avoid bread and grain throughout this holiday in memory of the fact that their ancestors left Egypt in a hurry and did not have time for their bread to rise (Rich, 2006). Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year.
It occurs on the first day of the seventh month (July). It is a happy, festive holiday. Yom Kippur is the Jewish Day of Atonement, a day of fasting and repentance to reconcile themselves with God for the mistakes they have made in the last year (Rich, 2006). It occurs on the ninth day of Rosh Hashanah. Most Jews will leave work early the night before so they will have time for a large meal before the fast. It is said that this was the only time the high Priest would enter the Temple of Jerusalem and the only time he would pronounce the sacred name of the lord (YHWH). Chanukah is a festival of lights.
Chanukah commemorates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem (Rich, 2006). It begins between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and most of the time, it overlaps with Christmas. It is not Jewish Christmas, but some parents give their children gifts during Chanukah. Chanukah is about lighting candles for eight days, playing games for chocolate coins, and eating potato pancakes (Rich, 2006). Mt. Sinai Congregation Temple Mt. Sinai Congregation Temple is located about 20 miles from my home is Texarkana Texas. I went and visited the church a couple of weeks ago, and I have to admit, I really enjoyed it.
The church was rather large. It had synagogue windows that were very beautiful to look at. Some of the men in the church were wearing these small caps on their heads. I asked one of the members what that was, and she told me that it was a kipa. She also told me that some of the women also wear headcoverings at times, but none of the women were wearing any. The church had an ark. I thought this to be neat because I had just learned about the ark and what it meant to the Jewish religion. There were lots of musical instruments that created the most amazing music.
I had never been in a church with such music. There was also a Torah scroll in the church. That also was amazing to me because I knew the meaning of the Torah. All in all, I seen things in the church that I haven’t seen in any other church that I had attended before. I think that I might just visit Mt. Sinai Congregation Temple again. Interview I was so impressed with Mt. Sinai Congregation Temple that I asked one of its members, Shirley Brown, if she would mind if I asked her a few questions. She was happy to talk with me about her religion. She told me that she grew up in a very religious home.
As a child, she had always attended a small country Baptist church. She married a man who was Jewish. She was afraid at first to attend his church, but with an open-mind, she began to attend once a month. She said that she really enjoyed the way the priest would teach. Although she has not changed her religion, she does attend her husband’s church more often than her own. She said that her and her husband do celebrate Christmas, but this is only for her children. She said that when her children grow up, they would probably not celebrate Christmas any longer.
When it comes to some of the beliefs, she does not agree with them all. She thinks that her beliefs that she grew up on are overpowering the ones of Judaism. Although she doesn’t believe in all of the beliefs, she respects others and their beliefs. She said that she would never look down on anyone, regardless of their religion and their beliefs. Mrs. Brown seemed to be a very intelligent, open-minded, and respectful person. I thanked and commended her on her bravery in stepping into a whole new religion despite they way she was raised. I also told her that she had a very understanding family as well.
Judaism and Christianity Compared There are major differences in beliefs between Judaism and Christianity. Jews view God as a single, indivisible entity. Many Christians view God as a Trinity: a single entity with three personalities “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Robinson, 2005). Jewish people do not accept the Christian belief of original sin. This is the belief that all people inherited Adam and Eve’s sin when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden (Lucas, 2002). The Jewish people do not recognize the need for a savior as a mediator with God.
Jews also believe that their beliefs derive from their actions. Conservative Christians believe that their actions tend to derive from their beliefs. Judaism Today Judaism has changed a lot in the past centuries. There are many different branches of Judaism today. Some of them work hard to keep the same traditions as their ancestors. Others are trying to make Judaism a more modern religion that focuses on the modern tastes and modern minds of today’s society. Choirs have been added for effect and the Sabbath has been shortened and translated into their own language.
Judaism is understood as an evolving, open-ended religion rather than one fixed forever by the Torah. They now accept women into rabbinical schools as candidates for ordination of rabbis. Conclusion Judaism is one of the oldest religions that still exist today. Judaism began as the religion of a small nation. It has now grown to be one of the largest religions in the world. Not only is Judaism an influential religion, it is also a culture. The Jewish people practice many rituals that signify the importance of their beliefs. The beliefs of Judaism are put into everyday life, making life happier.
Judaism is open to all religions. They do not turn away anyone who wants to worship because of the way that they believe. Judaism is a way of life, teaching others how to love and get along in the world. References Lucas, S. , (2002). Symbol: The Star of David. Retrieved December 21, 2007, from http://www. mrswebdesign. net ORACLE’ Think Quest. (2007). Retrieved December 21, 2007, from http://library. thinkquest. org Rich, T. , (2006). Judaism 101. Retrieved December 21, 2007, from http://jewfaq. org Robinson, B. A. , (2007). Judaism. Retrieved December 19, 2007, from http://www. religioustolerance. org/judaism. htm