Introduction of the Judaism
Like Christianity and Islam, Judaism is a one-God religion. It is a clan religion for the Jews and its sacred text consist of the Hebrew Bible, especially books of Torah. It’s an ethical religion founded on laws. They do not have common dogma that individual should practice in order to be a Jew. However, at the center of this faith is the belief that Israelites are God’s chosen people and are the mentors of other nations. They also believe that God made an agreement with Abraham, and reiterated the same with Isaac, Jacob, and finally Moses during the Ten Commandments, that bided their manner of worship and the way they handle each other.
To them Jerusalem, is an important city since David’s rein. In 586 BC, the destruction of the temple in took place, but Jews hope that messiah will help to restore their nation (De Lange, N. 2000). During the fight against Roman Empire, destruction of a second temple occurred and as a result, Jews were scattered all over the world and today they live in many countries. With this scattering Rabbinic Judaism evolved in the place of the Jerusalem temple cult.
Judaism continued to follow strict laws and ethical standards and knowledge about their faith recorded in the Mishna and Talmud. Judaism then evolved to two kinds of Judaism in the middle ages. Those of Sephardic and Ashkenazi both practiced in different nations. They also started to practice mysticism such as Kabbala esoteric writings, of 18th century and Hasidism or Chassidism movement. In the 19th century, another split in the form of Reform and Conservative Judaism came into view. Other branches of Judaism include, orthodox, Reconstructionism and secular. This religion has many symbols attributed to it, but the Shield of David is very common. In this paper, I will describe what I learnt about Judaism following the visit of Congregation Ohabai Sholom Synagogue of Nashville, and contrast it with Islam.
Review of the Worship site
Ohabai Sholom Synagogue of Nashville temple, begun in 1851 as a congregation meeting point for Reform Judaism and comprise of Jewish community living in Nashville. It is located in Harding Road in Nashville. Inside the synagogue, a congregation that comprise of males and females of different ages interact freely. There are no benches reserved for any gender, rather people sit together regardless of sex. There is a belief that the synagogue is a place to meet with God, regardless of the type of Judaism an individual subscribe. In addition the Congregation coming to this place comprise of faithful of all ages and origins.
Interview with Joel Steffel
Joel was born in Nashville in a family of five and they live close to the Ohabai Sholom Synagogue. He works as a businessperson in Nashville selling fresh produce from the farm. Majority of his friends are women and they work very well with him. In this interview, he described to me the development of his understanding and practice of Judaism.
“My Judaism faith is something that I learnt through the ways I was born and raised. My parents were great believers of Judaism and I followed them like a duck in water. I learnt as I grew up to accommodate each other regardless of age or gender. I was also taught to continue the teaching to others including my children so that they can also pass the same message to their children and their grandchildren. We were taught to be kind and considerate through simple activities that helped us to develop these virtues. We were also taught that it is wrong to discriminate each other and to be unfair. The book of Torah provides us with inspiration information from our ancestors that can help us to model our morality and ethics. However, life is a continuous process and we must apply our fair judgment in its application on our daily lives. Education is a very important tool for making men better and that is why it is good to pass our knowledge to the next generation as well as apply the contextual understanding in a meaningful way.
About sins, each society is responsible for the evil things that its people perpetuate and past sins cannot be used to justify wrong doings in the present. Therefore we were taught that we shall get salvation if we continually improve our self as well as make the society a better place to live in. laws to us are evolving codes that keeps on changing with each generation. Therefore, religious practices that are not in harmony with the reasonable demands of a civilized community must not be adapted. For instance, we do not belief in rituals like circumcision. To us ethics are of great value as opposed to believe in ritual hood. Actually, even in the modern world the types of ritual that people follows are not the same as those followed by our ancestors in the Bible. In addition, sexual affiliations have also changed and men and men are getting married. This therefore calls for critical analysis of the Talmud literatures as opposed to following it directly. So generally, for us we believe that humanity is progressing from a particular moment and every day is an opportunity for each person to better his or her morality and ethics. Therefore, somebody will be remembered because of his deed that will continue into the future of generations to come.
Concerning women participation in religious function, we strongly advocate for democratic involvement. This is because to us equality between men and women is of great importance in ensuring that there is social justice in the world. Therefore, you will note when you visit our synagogues that unlike other branches of Judaism, both males and female intermingle freely in the various benches. More to that, we belief the word of God should be shared in the different languages in the world and not to be restricted to just one of them. Therefore, in our synagogue you will find us using English language together with Hebrew. To me Judaism is the light of the world. I was born in a community full of all forms of discrimination. People hated each other because of the color of their skins, religious beliefs and other social stratifications. Consequently, Judaism with its promise for equality, fairness, and concern for other is the light that this world needed to be the better place for thriving of humanity. I looked up to my ancestors and such as Samuel Holdheim and others who have shown us that this world can go beyond the racial discriminations by marrying people from different races. These people to me emphatically argued that ethics as opposed to the laws of the Bible are the most valuable teachings that we can derive from it.
My father as I told you was an ardent believer in Judaism. As a result, for me the learning process was not so difficult because the old man gave me many teachings about the faith. From his teaching that we should learn to coexist peacefully with our neighbors, I thought about the various injustices that are taking place around us. However, sometimes this commitment has not been a smooth ride. Often I have found myself questioning the principle of being fair to others. This is especially because people in this world are so much concerned about survival for the fittest as opposed to the well-being of humanity. This world is full of injustices and nobody seems to care. For instance, our brothers living in some parts of this nation are languishing in poverty and yet there many others who have more than they need. When I reflect at some of the ways this world treat some people, I cannot help it but feel that there is no need for fairness. However, every time I visit the synagogue, the Rabbi tells us of how our ancestors suffered, and discriminations they passed through, my faith is strengthened.
In terms of my work, I am a businessperson dealing with household foodstuffs. This makes it easy for me to interact with the most socially discriminated upon human beings. That is women, in almost every moment of my life. I find a lot of pride in this job because it offers me an opportunity to further my belief and to learn more about women and those socially discriminated upon.”
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