Judiasm Essay

Judaism was a parent of Christianity, and we probably know more
about it than any other religion, excluding our own, right off the top of our
heads. The ancestors of the Jews, called the Israelites, established a
kingdom in Canaan-the land of Milk and Honey. The Israelites first began
to see themselves in a special relationship with their God at about 1000
B.C.E. God had selected them to be a Chosen People. God had offered the
Chosen People a covenant, or special agreement. In this covenant, the
Israelites promised to worship only God, and in return God promised them
preservation throughout history and the land of Canaan. Canaan was later
called Judah, Israel, and Palestine.

Central to the understanding of the Jewish convenant is the
prosperous herdsman who heard and followed God’s call, Abraham.
Abraham answered God’s call and led his family from Ur of the Chaldees to
Canaan. Abraham mad a son, Isaac, and a grandson Jacob who also
inherited the convenant. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were called the
patriarchs, or the founders of Judiasm.

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Moses, being one of the great religious leaders in history, God
revealed his name Yahweh to him. Yahweh means ?to be? in Hebrew. The
events recorded in Exodus indicate that through Moses a new and deeper
understanding of God was revealed. The worship of Yahweh was unknown
before Moses. The Israelites as a whole began to realize that the God of
Moses was a very ?jealous God,? who would not tolerate worship of any
other god.

As the book of Exodus opens, we find that the Israelites are slaves in
the land of Egypt. Exodus became the heart and soul of Judaism. Moses
is the key character in Exodus and one of great religious leaders in history.
The Exodus story is one that is very touching.

The persecution of the Jews in the 1930’s was horrible and will be
remembered forever. After being crushed in the economic disaster in the
Great Depression and being totally defeated in WWI, the time was perfect
for Hitler to take anti-Semitism, or hatred for Jews-to a whole different
level. Jews all over became victims of Hitler’s awful laws such as those in
Poland, Europe, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Germany. It was an awful
time for the Jewish people and in camps all over Germany and Poland Jews
were being murdered by starvation, disease, beating, mutilation, infection,
gassing, and burning. Six million Jews, or about one-third of the entire
Jewish population of the world was completely wiped out. Only fifty
thousand Jews remained after the war. The faith of the Jewish people was
tested greatly during the Holocaust.

The vivid living faith of the Jewish people is shown through their
mant festivals and celebrations throughout the year. Besides the Sabbath
observance, the Jewish year is filled with yearly festivals. They are all
based on the Jewish lunal calendar. Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish new
year, which is celebrated in October, opens ten ?Days of Awe?. There is a
celebration at the beginning and end of the two days. Yom Kippur is the
?Day of Atonement?. It is considered the most holy day of the year and is
the closest to repentance. Five days after Yom Kippur, the Feast of
Tabernacles, or Sukkoth, is celebrated. This is a week long feast in the fall
celebrating God’s presence when the Israelites were in the desert. The
Rejoicing of the Torah closes the Sukkoth. Hanukkah is the Festival of
Lights and is celebrated in December. It commemorates the restoration of
the Temple after it was destroyed by the Syrians. Purin celebrates Esther’s
success to find a plot to massacre all Jews in the Persian Empire. One of
the most important spring holy days is Pesach, or the Passover. There are
many special foods associated with this holiday, especially those served at
the seder (ceremonial meal). Fifty days after the Seder, the feast of the
Pentecost which remembers the giving of the Law of Moses fifty days after
the Passover. The Jewish calendar year is filled with many feasts and
special ceremonies.

There are three branches of Judaism. Orthodox Judaism is the
oldest and largest of the three branches. It has the full tradition of
Judaism. It calls itself the ?Torah-True Judaism? because of its strict
adherence to the law of Moses. This stance seems to influence and shape
tis approach to theology. The second branch of Judaism is Reform. The
Reform branch is extremely liberal and call their houses of worship
?temples? and have begun to ordain female rabbis. They believe that the
Mosaic law should not be followed to closely. The reform Jews still only
believe in one God. The last branch of Judaism is the conservative branch
which lies in the middle of the Orthodox and the reform branches. They
retain the essentials of Judaism and hold that personal conscience must
be the final rule of life, and the always try to apply the Jewish tradition to
modern day life. Sometimes the conservative Jews are often times
professionals in the arts.
Sorry this paper is longer than 500 words Miss. Bolen!!
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