What is Judaism? Is it a religion, a culture, a nation, a people, a system of ethics, an ethnic group, a pre-requisite for making it as a successful comedian?
It’s a religion It’s an ethnicity One God Universal Creator Specific God of Israel System of ethical and ritual laws & practices Sacred homeland Sacred texts Torah and Hebrew Bible Talmud, Midrash, Kabbalah Holidays Sacred narrative (Moses, etc.) Common language(s) Shared history Shared rituals Shared foods Shared humor Shared roots in a particular land Sense of shared destiny Shared physical appearance attributes
Ashkenazi Jews (European descent) Sephardi Jews (trace roots back to Spain) Mizrahi Jews (Jews descending from the Middle East, North Africa, and Persian Gulf) Ethiopian Jews Sabras Jews-by-choice Jews adopted as children
“Judaism is an evolving religious civilization.” history languages Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan1881 - 1983 religion cuisine culture homeland humor art & literature
Centers of Jewish civilization today EUROPE 1,500,000
Different Ways of Analyzing or Surveying Contemporary American Jewish Cultures
By Movement/Philosophy Conservative Orthodox Modern Orthodox Haredi Chabad Other Hasidic Sects Reconstructionist Renewal “Just Jewish” Secular/Cultural Reform Humanistic
How the movements differ Beliefs about Torah & Sacred Texts Beliefs about God Authority of Jewish law (halakhah) Who has authority to determine halakhicdecisions or other decisions of ethics and ritual practice Nature and purpose of the Jewish people Ways of relating to modernity & the contemporary world