Both God and the people have responsibilities within their relationship; the people are expected to be obedient to God, while God is thought to grant favors and is also expected to be ethical in the treatment of people (Fisher, 2005). The intervention by God is said to be the flood he created “to destroy all flesh under the sky” because he was displeased with the people—along with directions he gave to Noah to create an ark to save his family and two of each animal on earth, God promised to never again destroy the earth or interfere with earthly happenings (Fisher, 2005). Obedience to God is generally thought to be rewarded but people should not love God for this reason.
The Torah was often read communally and Jewish people often worshipped this way as well. Readings from the Torah were a central part of Synagogue services (Fisher, 2005). It was custom for people to have a basic knowledge of the Torah at a young age, but some men deeply studied the Torah indefinitely.
The Tanakh is referred to by Christians as ‘the Old Testament’ (Fisher, 2005). Moses is said to have wrote the Pentateuch (five books of Moses) after the information contained in them was revealed to him by a divine intervention (Fisher, 2005). Although some sources say the Talmud was written, some disagree and believe it was revealed to Moses along with the Pentateuch (Religion Facts, 2010).
The Ten Commandments are general guidelines—they dictate that one shall not steal, murder, or commit adultery. The Commandments were revealed to Moses along with “a set of rules for righteous living”, which would later be referred to as the Torah (Fisher, 2005).
After engaging in some diplomacy with the surrounding people, King David was able to secure Jerusalem, which would be the beginning of a safe and prosperous Israelite empire. King Solomon had a Temple constructed to house the Ark; inside the Temple was an area for offering sacrifices of animals, grain, and oil to the divine (Fisher, 2005).
Even before the holocaust, a small number of Jews immigrated to Israel because of the desire for a Jewish homeland (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2010). There was a biblical promise which ensured the Jews would have land to settle on along with the coveted return to the Temple of Jerusalem (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2010). Along with these reasons, the threat of growing anti-Semitism prompted many Jews to make a sort of pilgrimage to Israel.
The Essenes essentially exiled themselves to a compound at Qumran; The Essenes are also thought to be responsible for writing the Dead Sea Scrolls (Fisher, 2005). The leader of the Essene people was called the Teacher of Righteousness, and his name was never spoken (Fisher, 2005). Information in the Dead Sea Scrolls explained that the Essenes valued discipline, communities, obedience, study, and preparation for the ‘Day of Judgment’.
The Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust made up over a third of the entire Jewish population in the world (Fisher, 2005). The idea of anti-Semitism is essentially racism, theories stated that pure blood was favorable over the ‘mongrel’ blood of Jewish people. Adolf Hitler blamed the Jew’s for the German defeat in WWI, along with many other problems—Hitler stated that Germany could not recover until all the Jews were either discredited or removed from the country (Fisher, 2005).
Young boys are normally taught to read and write traditional Hebrew and to interpret scripture (Fisher, 2005). Special schools exist to teach young people to study the Torah. There are special instructions for butchering and preparing meat, along with guidelines as to what meats are acceptable to eat. Prayer rituals such as putting small leather boxes containing biblical verses up to one’s body and washing one’s hands before praying are practiced by orthodox Jews. Rosh Hashanah is what Jews call New Year’s Day and believe it is a time of renewal and remembrance; Yom Kippur renews the covenant with God and is a time for atonement and purification (Fisher, 2005).
Along with the many groups within Judaism, there are also many disagreements on varying things such as how closely the Torah and Talmud must be obeyed, conversion requirements, the use of Hebrew during prayer, and women within the religion (Fisher, 2005). Essentially all religions in existence have to adapt to the advances of the modern world, along with Judaism. Some areas where the Orthodox Jews differ from the Reform Movement include the acceptance or lack thereof non-Jewish people, toleration of the secular environment, and communication to other Jewish people regardless of the method of communication. The intermediate groups lay in the ‘middle of the road’ and borrow concepts from both the Orthodox Jews and the Reform Movement. Jewish feminists are beginning to be openly religious once again, but “not within the traditional mold”, which is believed to be sexist and more favorable to men (Fisher, 2005).
THE BASICS OF JUDAISMThis presentation will cover 9 basic areas of Judaism•The Relationship with God and the Torah•The History of Key Sacred Texts•The Ten Commandments•Jerusalem•The Nation of Israel•Different Sects of Judaism•The Holocaust•Sacred Practices and Holidays•Judaism as it is Today
RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD It is believed that heaven and earth were created by God in six days (Fisher, 2005) There is said to be a special relationship between God and Jewish people God intervenes periodically throughout history As a sign of the covenant between Abraham and God, God agrees to be the protector of everyone who follows Abraham God is thought to be „one‟, that is he is the one creator, the “cause of all existent things” (Fisher, 2005)
THE TORAH The Torah is the foundation for all Jewish sacred texts (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2008) The Jewish people accepted the Torah because God freed them from slavery and extinction (Fisher, 2005) The Torah was established as the basis of the Israelites around 430BC—reading was required from scrolls displayed in a public square (Fisher, 2005)
HISTORY OF SACRED TEXTS The Tanakh begins recorded Jewish history (Fisher, 2005) Jewish people believe the Pentateuch is the most sacred scripture—it is believed Moses wrote the Pentateuch (Fisher, 2005) The Talmud was written between the second and fifth century AD (Religion Facts, 2010)
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS The Ten Commandments are a set of rules for living The Commandments were revealed to Moses so he could pass them on to his people (Fisher, 2005) The Ten Commandments were originally set in stone
JERUSALEM Jerusalem is the capital of the Israelite empire King David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem A Temple was constructed to house the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem Jerusalem is still the capital city of Israel, the home of the Jewish people
ISRAEL Israel is the center of Judaism, although there are Jewish people scattered around the world A large number of Jewish people immigrated to Israel during the Holocaust Jews represent approximately 4/5 of the total population of Israel (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2010) Israel comes from both religious and political backgrounds (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2010)
SECTS OF JUDAISM Three sects of Jews formed under the Hasmonean kings—the Sadducees, Pharisees, and the Essenes The Sadducee people were made up of wealthy people and holy men, and were intent on upholding the law The Pharisees were essentially the opposite of the Sadducee, they were more liberal and sought to apply the Torah to every day life (Fisher, 2005) The Essenes were devoutly religious and considered current religious institutions to be corrupt (Fisher, 2005)
THE HOLOCAUST The Holocaust is defined as the murder of nearly 6 million Jews at the hands of Nazi Germany (Fisher, 2005) The Holocaust is believed to be the most tragic event in Jewish history Anti-Jewish feelings abounded in European cultures where Jews were successful The Jews were used as a scapegoat after WWI, they were blamed for all of Germany‟s problems
SACRED PRACTICES AND HOLIDAYS Daily spiritual study God is to be remembered in all aspects of life (Fisher, 2005). Adultery is strictly forbidden Special prayer rituals are performed by traditional Jews Rosh Hashanah Yom Kippur
JUDAISM TODAY There are many different groups within Judaism Judaism has had to adapt to modern advances in science, rationalism, industrialization, and materialism (Fisher, 2005) On one end of the scale are the Orthodox Jews, while on the other end the Reform Movement exists Between these two groups on opposite ends of the spectrum lie intermediaries Jewish feminism also exists, but not within the Orthodox belief system
WRAP-UPThis presentation about Judaism contained basic information about the Jewish faith. Obviously, there is more to Judaism than can be contained in this short presentation. However, the information presented does offer a basic overview of the Judaic faith, and offers some clarification on ten cornerstones of Jewish religious tradition.
REFERENCES Encyclopedia Britannica. (2010). Israel. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/296740/Israel Fisher, M. P. (2005). Living Religions (6th ed.). Published by: Pearson Education, Inc.. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2008). Jewish Sacred Texts. Retrieved from http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Facts+About+Israel/People/Je wish+Sacred+Texts.htm Religion Facts. (2010). Jewish Sacred Texts. Retrieved from http://www.religionfacts.com/judaism/texts.htm