Judaism At the outset, it is important to note that there is a distinction between the Jewish people and the religion of Judaism; not all Jewish people are religious. Many profess to be atheists or agnostics. There are also Jews who are religious, yet have converted to other religions. Of the some 15 million Jewish people in the world today: • around 4.5 million are in Israel • some 7 million are in North America • approx.1 million are in countries that were part of the former Soviet Union • approx. 2 million are spread throughout European countries Is “Jewish” a Religious or Ethnic Identity? Yes and no. Being Jewish can mean you are a part of a religious movement. However, the great majority of Jews become a part of the religious movement through birth and not due to their beliefs or actions. In this way, being Jewish is like being a citizen of a religious movement. A Jewish identity is automatically bestowed on the babies of Jewish mothers. And this identity stays with them throughout life no matter what they believe or how they act. A person who was born to a Jewish mother or has gone through the conversion process is considered a Jew even if he or she does not believe in Judaism and does not observe Jewish practices. Thus, there are non-religious Jews or secular Jews. A person who was not born to a Jewish mother or has not gone through the conversion process is not considered a Jew even if he or she believes in Judaism and observes Jewish practices. Thus, the conversion process is a very meaningful because it is the only way for a non-Jew to become Jewish. Abraham – Father of the Hebrew people • Lived near Ur in Mesopotamia (between Tigris and Euphrates Rivers) • Obeyed a command by God to leave his relatives and take his wife and household westwards to the land God wanted him to have • God appeared to him in a dream and told him that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands of the beach Abraham and Sarah • Abraham was visited by three angels, who told him that by the following year his wife Sarah would be pregnant. • Sarah was believed to be barren. She told Abraham to sleep with her servant Hagar, who bore him Ishmael. Perhaps, this is what God intended. • Not so, eventually Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son, who was named Isaac. • Sarah regretted telling Abraham to be with Hagar and feared that Ishmael would take Isaac’s inheritance. She pestered Abraham until he sent Hagar and Ishmael away. • According to Islamic tradition, Abraham and his son Ishmael were the founding fathers. Abraham and Isaac • While Isaac was still a boy, God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. • Abraham was going to follow through with it. • God sent an angel to stop Abraham before he killed Isaac. This act of obedience was credited as obedience to Abraham. • Abraham and God made a covenant (agreement). Abraham would make sure all his descendants were circumcise their sons, and God would bless them. This would be an outward sign of their cleanliness, holiness, and dedication to God. Sacrifice of Isaac (Brunelleschi) Moses Moses was the greatest prophet, leader and teacher that Judaism has ever known. In fact, one of the primary Principles of Faith is the belief that Moses‘ prophecies are true, and that he was the greatest of the prophets. He is called "Moshe Rabbeinu," that is, Moses, Our Teacher/Rabbi. Interestingly, the numerical value of "Moshe Rabbeinu" is 613: the number of mitzvot that Moses taught the Children of Israel! He is described as the only person who ever knew God face-to-face (Deut. 34:10) and spoke directly to God (Num. 12:8) Moses continued God spoke to Moses directly, in plain language, not through visions and dreams, as God communicated with other prophets. The story Moses is so central to the Jewish faith because of his leadership in the Hebrew exodus from Egypt, his founding of the nation of Israel, and his role as the person receiving the law of the Jewish people (the Ten Commandments & the Torah). Key Leaders from Ancient Israel • Abraham – father of the Hebrew people; set them on the path of monotheism – different from neighboring tribes • Moses – giver of God’s law which includes Ten Commandments (called the Law of Moses) • Joshua – successor to Moses; led the conquest of Canaan giving Hebrews a foothold in Palestine • The Judges – spoke God’s word • David – Greatest king of Israel in terms of pleasing God; a man after God’s own heart • Solomon – Son of David, wisest man who ever lived, built the first permanent temple for God Deed – Not Creed Judaism is a religion that focuses on the importance of the actions of the righteous, rather than justification found in faith. The “correct actions” for a Jew are spelled out in the Torah. Whether one is an Orthodox, Reform, or Conservative Jew, the unifying belief is that the goal of all humanity is to live in such a way as to perpetuate the betterment of self and of society, therefore affirming one’s standing before God’s standard. If there is any one religious principle that all Jews explicitly affirm and teach, it is the unity and singularity of God as He is revealed though the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”) This – the Sh’ma as it is called – is the cornerstone of all Jewish belief. The Jewish life is one of duty and deed; it is what you do to improve the here and now that matters – the idea of “storing up treasure for heaven” is unknown to the Jew. Jews believe that they are born in grace, live in grace, and that they will die in grace (sin is not a fact of birth, it is a matter of choice). What’s the Purpose Then? Tikun Olam: “Fixing the World” – the Jewish believer is engaged in the literal process of fixing a broken world. This is the ultimate purpose of every Jewish believer’s life. Through the observance of the law, the Jew will contribute to the restoration of the nation of Israel, preparing the way for the Messiah to come and take his place in God’s kingdom on earth: “Judaism is a faith that believes in the renewal and change of the human being. Change is hard and arduous but possible. We can remake ourselves, because more than anything else, what we are is a product of our own choice and our own work.” Rabbi David Wolpe Olam Ha-Ba: “The World to Come” – Jews believe that there is a world to come in which the Messiah will reign, a world in which the Jewish temple will be rebuilt and the nation of Israel will be fully restored, instituting a world order of justice and compassion. The Daily Life of a Jew Mizvot: the 613 “do’s and don’ts” regarding the daily life of a Jew – none of the Mizvot deal with beliefs, each of them deal specifically with a particular action. “Some look at the teachings of the Mizvot and deduce that Jews are trying to earn their way into Heaven by observing rules. This is a gross mischaracterization of the Jewish religion. It is important to remember that unlike other religions, Judaism isn’t focused on the question of how to get into Heaven. Judaism rather, is focused on our life on earth and how to best live that life. Non-Jews frequently ask me, ‘do you think that you will go to Hell if you don’t do such-and-such?’ – to which I always respond that the question of where I’m going after death simply doesn’t enter into the equation when I think about observing the Mizvot. We perform the Mizvot because it is our privilege and our sacred obligation to do so…we perform them out of a sense of love and duty to our Creator, not out of a desire to get something in return.” Rabbi Izakson The “Branches” of Judaism Reform Orthodox Conservative Orthodox Jews are the oldest, most conservative, and most diverse group of religious Jews. Modern Orthodox, hasidism and Ultra Orthodox share a basic belief in the derivation of Jewish law, even as they hold very different outlooks on life. They attempt to follow the original form of Judaism as they view it to be presented in the Torah. They look upon every word in their sacred texts as being divinely inspired. Reform Jews are a liberal group, comprised of mostly North American Jews, although the movement started in the 1790's in Germany. They follow the ethical laws of Judaism, but leave up to the individual the decision whether to follow or ignore the dietary and other traditional laws. They use modern forms of worship. There are many female rabbis in reform congregations. Often this group is referred to as practicing “contemporary Judaism.” Conservative Judaism began in the midnineteenth century as a reaction against the Reform movement. It is a main-line movement midway between Reform and Orthodox. Some of the more “obscure” or “ancient” traditions are not observed, however the goal is to avoid changing the religion to simply conform to cultural norms. The Messiah? Jews believe that the Messianic prophecies are not fulfilled in Christ… 1) Build the third temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28). 2) Gather all Jews back to the land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6). 3) Usher in an era of world peace, ending hatred, oppression, suffering and disease (Isaiah 2:4). Messiah continued • • Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel – uniting the entire human race as one (Zechariah 14:9). 5) Jews believe that the Messiah will be a prophet, and because prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of the world Jewry, Jesus was not a prophet (during the time of Ezra – circa 300 B.C. – this time the majority of Jews refused to move from Babylon to Israel, thus ending the line of prophets with Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). Messiah cont. 6) He must be descended on his father’s side from King David (Genesis 49:10 & Isaiah 11:1). Of course, according to the Christian tradition Jesus was born of a virgin, and therefore the Jewish believer holds that Christ could not possibly have fulfilled this messianic requirement. 7) The Messiah will lead the Jewish people into full Torah observance. Deuteronomy 13:1-4, states that all mitzvahs (laws) remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet…(see Jesus’ words on this in John 1:45, 9:16, & Acts 3:22, 7:37). Jewish Life: Keeping Kosher Kosher – follows dietary laws set out in the Law of Moses (In determining whether a recipe you want to post is kosher, bear in mind the basic concepts of kosher food: no mixing of dairy and meat; no pork or pork products; no shell fish. This also applies to food products containing such ingredients. For example, a food coloring made from a shell fish would be considered unkosher and would taint the food in which it might be used. Similarly, using, e.g., an animal fat together with dairy ingredients renders the product unkosher and taints even the implements used in making it. Kosher If a recipe is not in keeping with these basic requirements, consider whether substitutions can be made to adjust it (e.g., substituting margarine for butter in a meat recipe). If you are unsure of how to make such substitutions, post the recipe and ask for suggestions as how to do so. Bar/Bat Mitzvah • Bar/Bat Mitzvah (“son/daughter of the commandment”) – Under Jewish Law, children are not obligated to observe the commandments, although they are encouraged to do so as much as possible to learn the obligations they will have as adults. At the age of 13 (12 for girls), children become obligated to observe the commandments. Bar/Bat Mitzvah • The Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony formally marks the assumption of that obligation, along with the corresponding right to take part in leading religious services, to count in a minyan (the minimum number of people needed to perform certain parts of religious services), to form binding contracts, to testify before religious courts and to marry. Bar/Bat Mitzvah • Although a Jewish girl or Jewish boy automatically becomes a Bar Mitzvah upon reaching the ages of 12 & 13 years, technically no ceremony is needed to confer these rights and obligations. The popular ceremonies are not required, and do not fulfill any commandment. It is a relatively modern innovation, not mentioned in the Talmud, and the elaborate ceremonies and receptions that are commonplace today were unheard of as recently as a century ago. Significant Jewish “Holy” Days Shabbat – The Sabbath (or Shabbat, as it is called in Hebrew) is one of the best known and least understood of all Jewish observances. It is primarily a day of rest and spiritual enrichment. Shabbat is the most important ritual observance in Judaism. It is the only ritual observance instituted in the Ten Commandments. It recalls how God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. It is also the most important special day, even more important than Yom Kippur. Shabbat: Sabbath "Shabbat" means to cease, to end, or to rest. Third Commandment – Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. People who do not observe Shabbat think of it as a day filled with stifling restrictions, or simply as a day of prayer; Those who observe Shabbat consider it a precious gift from God, a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout the week, a time when we can set aside all of our weekday concerns and devote ourselves to spiritual pursuits. The following are forbidden on the Sabbath: Sowing, plowing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, selecting, grinding, sifting, kneading, baking, shearing wool, washing wool, beating wool, dyeing wool, spinning, weaving, making two loops, weaving two threads, separating two threads, tying, untying, sewing two stitches, tearing, trapping, slaughtering, flaying, salting meat, curing hide, scraping hide, cutting hide up, writing two letters, erasing two letters, building, tearing a building down, extinguishing a fire, kindling a fire, hitting with a hammer, taking an object from the private domain to the public, or transporting an object in the public domain. Also prohibited are travel, the use of electricity, buying and selling of goods or services, and other weekday tasks that would interfere with the spirit of Shabbat. “Holy” Days cont. Yom Kippur – very important holiday of the Jewish year. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast and/or attend synagogue services on this day. "Yom Kippur" means "Day of Atonement.”It is a day set aside to "afflict the soul," to atone for the sins of the past year – sins between man and God. On Yom Kippur, the judgments of God are entered into “the books” and then sealed. This day is, essentially, the last appeal, the last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate repentance and make amends. Rosh Hashanah – In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. Little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the Jewish year, and the American midnight drinking bash and daytime football game. Important similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American one: Many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making "resolutions." Jewish New Year is a time of introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. Passover – Passover is the time when each Jew embarks on a personal journey from slavery to freedom. God performed many miracles and sent plagues upon Egypt until Pharaoh freed the Hebrews from slavery. God sent an angel to destroy all the first-born males in Egypt. Moses instructed his people to put the blood of a lamb on the door lintel and door jambs. The angel would know to pass over these homes and the first-born therein would be spared. Much like God delivered the Hebrew people from their enslavement in Egypt (“passing over” their firstborn, further convincing Pharaoh to free the Hebrews). Passover continued In order to guide Jews in their quest, their Sages carefully wrote an outline of 15 steps to freedom. It's called the Haggadah. The Sages say that Passover occurs on the 15th of Nissan (the Jewish month), to teach us that just as the moon waxes for 15 days, so too our growth must be in 15 gradual steps. Think of these as 15 pieces of the Passover puzzle. Assemble them all and you've got freedom! Conquest of Israel • The nation of Israel repeatedly fell into idol worship. • The Jewish Bible (Old Testament of Christian Bible) tells how God allowed Israel to lose time and again against enemy armies as punishment for their infidelity. • God allows the Assyrians to conquer Israel (Israel became a divided kingdom; the northern ten tribes were still called Israel; the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to the south and including the holy city of Jerusalem called Judah). The Assyrians killed many and uprooted their leadership and talented citizens sending them to far flung parts of the Assyrian Empire. Conquest and Return to Jerusalem • The Israelites of Judah and Benjamin were taken in captivity to Babylon to lived under King Nebuchadnezzar. • The best and brightest were trained to serve the Babylonian government. Among them were Daniel, the famous interpreter of dreams. • The Medes and Persians supplanted the Babylonians. Daniel, by virtue of his God-given abilities, continued to serve as an administrator under the Persians. The Bible tells that he always remained true to God and prayed faithfully. The Return continued • King Darius had sympathy for the Israelites and allowed them to return to Canaan even furnishing them with money and supplies to rebuild Jerusalem. • The Jews, who chose to return (many preferred to remain in Babylon and were now speaking Aramaic not Hebrew), rebuilt the walls of the city and King Herod the Great built a new, spectacular temple for God. Prelude to the Great Revolt (66-70 C.E.) • Israel had been ruled by Roman puppets since the beginning of the common era. • They collected taxes from the people and gave them to Rome. They often collected more taxes to enrich themselves. • In 63, Emperor Caligula pronounced himself a god and ordered that a statue of him had to be put in every temple in the Roman Empire. • The Jews refused. They tried to pacify him to no avail; Caligula raged against them. His sudden assassination saved the Jews from an early destruction. Great Revolt • In 66, Roman procurator Florus steals vast quantities of silver from temple • Jews kill Roman garrisons. • Roman army of 60,000 attacks Galilee (kills or sells into slavery 100,000 Jews); survivors flee to Jerusalem to make a last stand. • Roman army besieges Jerusalem. Jewish radicals called ZEALOTS, start killing any moderate leaders and rabbis – major civil war in Jerusalem. • Burn Jerusalem’s supply of food to force everyone to fight harder against the Romans. • Summer of 70, Roman army breaches the walls of Jerusalem beginning a major outbreak of violence and death and destroy Second Temple. • Estimated 1 million Jews died during Great Revolt Arch of Titus in Rome The Wailing Wall The Wailing Wall • Western Wall of the Temple built by Herod the Great. • Babylonians destroyed the original temple, the Temple of Solomon, when they conquered Jerusalem in 597 B.C.E. • The Romans destroyed the Second Temple when they conquered Jerusalem. The West Wall is all that remains. • Jews pray and shed tears at this wall over the destruction of the temple. • From 70 C.E. until the 20th century (1900 years!), when the Zionists established the nation of Israel, Jews had to pay for the right to pray at the Wailing Wall. The Jewish Diaspora (70 – 1948 C.E.) • Period in which Jews spread our from Palestine. • They traveled all over the Mediterranean world. Diaspora – Centuries of Discrimination • Christianity became the main religion of Eastern and Western Europe. • Islam eventually became the main religion of the Middle East, North Africa, and temporarily Spain. Muslims were usually more decent to Jews than Christians. Jews living in Muslim lands just had to pay an extra tax. • In most European locations, Jews were persecuted. Diaspora and Discrimination • • • • Jews were blamed for the Black Plague. Jews were blamed for Jesus’ crucifixion. Jews were hated for their financial success. The dietary rules and rituals of Judaism were scoffed at and thought to be akin to witchcraft. • In Spain, after the Muslims were driven out, Jews had to convert to Christianity or were driven out. Inquisitors interrogated and tortured Jews, whom they did not believe to be true Christians. • In Europe during the Renaissance, Jews were forced to live in ghettoes, poor neighborhoods, to keep them separate. • Some Russians attacked Jewish people and their residences and burned their neighborhoods. These attacks are called POGROMS. Judaism – The Tie that Binds • Judaism saved the Jewish people during the Diaspora. It is was kept their religion and ethnic identification going. • Following the Law of Moses, observing the holy days, and keeping the covenant made between God and Abraham kept the Jews as a people from extinction by hostile, prejudiced ethnic groups. Holocaust (1933-1945) • Hitler began discriminating against Jews (banning Jews from certain jobs, forcing them to wear the Star of David on their clothing for identification) as soon as he came to power in Germany. He blatantly expressed his hatred and violent ideas toward Jews in Mein Kampf and his speeches. • Some wealthy Jews in Western Europe saw the writing on the wall and escaped shortly after the rise of Hitler. • The window of opportunity to leave soon began to close. European nations and America began to set quotas for the number of Jews it would allow to enter leaving multitudes of Jews trapped in Hitler dominated lands. After Holocaust • Jews allowed by British to move back to Palestine in vast numbers (some Jews had been moving back since 1800s and living on kibbutzim – small communal farms – but set up quotas because large numbers of Muslims already lived there) • 1948 – Israel becomes a nation The Ten Commandments • For Jews, they are rules to follow in their relationships with God and people. • According to tradition, God carved five commandments onto two tablets. • The first tablet deals a person’s with relationship with the Divine (God). • The second tablet deals with a person’s relationship with other people. • The Fifth Commandment – honor father and mother, appears to deal with human relationships. However, rabbis teach that parents can be looked at as creators, and reflect a Jew’s relationship with God. The Ten Commandments • 1. Belief in G-d – This category is derived from the declaration in Ex. 20:2 beginning, "I am the L-rd, your G-d..." • 2. Prohibition of Improper Worship – This category is derived from Ex. 20:3-6, beginning, "You shall not have other gods..." It encompasses within it the prohibition against the worship of other gods as well as the prohibition of improper forms of worship of the one true G-d, such as worshiping G-d through an idol. • 3. Prohibition of Oaths – This category is derived from Ex. 20:7, beginning, "You shall not take the name of the L-rd your G-d in vain..." This includes prohibitions against perjury, breaking or delaying the performance of vows or promises, and speaking G-d's name or swearing unnecessarily. • 4. Observance of Sacred Times – This category is derived from Ex. 20:8-11, beginning, "Remember the Sabbath day..." It encompasses all mitzvot related to Shabbat, holidays, or other sacred time. • 5. Respect for Parents and Teachers – This category is derived from Ex. 20:12, beginning, "Honor your father and mother..."