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Critical Analysis of Judaism From an Interview With a Jew

Outline

  • Introduction
  • The Beth-el Temple in Birmingham Alabama
  • Judaism Religion
  • A comparison between Judaism and Christianity
  • Conclusion

Introduction

Judaism is the oldest monotheist religion in the world whose followers also called Jewish have their believes and way of life geared towards fulfillment of the teachings of the Hebrew bible also called the Tanakh. Judaism has its roots in the traditional and biblical life of the People of Israel and their encounter with God. It is a distinct religion whose influence has been of great impact on both modern Christianity and Islam.

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A number of habits both secular and social in western civilization have aspects borrowed from Judaism. Research done in 2007 indicates that majority of the Jewish population is centered in Israel with an estimated 41% of the Jewish population and the United States of America whose Jewish population is estimated to be 40% of other dominant religions. Studies indicate that an estimated 25% of the American Jewish population reside in New York City (Fisher M.P 2005).

The Beth-el Temple in Birmingham Alabama

This paper contains a critical analysis of Judaism as established from an interview with a Jew at the at the Beth-el temple in Birmingham Alabama. The Beth-el temple was founded in 1907 to serve the American Jewish population in Alabama. The population is conserved in Judaism with integration of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ). The temple is one among others that offers its congregation with a variety of religious teachings in Judaism along side guide lines on the social-cultural practices. It is geared at enhancing the spiritual fulfillment of Jews of all ages and backgrounds. The Beth –el temple offers equal treatment to all genders. The temple has both evening and morning services on daily basis with provision for kids and an added baby day care service provided at Shabbat and at specific holidays

Judaism Religion

Judaism unlike other religions has supreme authority not held with individuals but in religious documents whose doctrine can only be passed to others through teachings that are offered by teachers also called Rabbi in Hebrew. All Jewish traditions have their roots in the biblical encounter of the people of Israel with God and the advent of the covenant. Jews strongly believe in the supremacy of one most powerful God who is held as the source of human life and all that exists on earth.

The covenant between God and his nation of Israel is held as a forum that led to the most adored Ten Commandments given to the leader of the people of Israel Moses both in written and spoken Torah. Jews strongly adhere to the teachings of the Ten Commandments and the study of Torah whose teachings are explained further in adherence to the Talmud.

The Talmud among the Jews is a summary of teachings on the Jewish laws and traditions. Most believes are centered in divine revelation. The teaching and interpretation of the teachers may differ with regard that some teachers may not find some teachings so relevant. A number of alterations have been adopted to fit in to modern Judaism but majority remain unaltered. Of the highly held statues of faith is the Maimonides that has a collection of thirteen faith principles.

These principles were at some point critised but have now been fully adopted. The teachings of Judaism with regard to the thirteen principles find apostasy in any form of deviation from the thirteen principles. These principles have been critised by philosophers but they still remain unaltered. Acknowdgement of these principles is considered as the most vital achievement in learning and accepting the religion.

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Other than adhering to the thirteen principles Judaism also recognizes the failure to uphold circumcision in males as a form of apostasy. The thirteen principles of faith thus entail the believe in God as the creator of all mankind and guider of all creation and elaborates that none another other than the creator has the ability to create. The second believe emphasizes on monotheism in the sense that it stresses on the strict worship and adoration of no other god other than the creator who is God for all ages.

The third principle adds on to implicate that God has no other substitutes and is independent of matter and any other forms and thus forbids any Jew from making any comparison. God with regard to the fourth principle is the most supreme in rank. Prayer with reference to the fifth principle of the thirteen should only be made to the one and only God and not to any other gods.

The sixth principle stresses on the need to believe in the works and teachings of prophets. With regard to holding all teachings by Jewish prophets true, the seventh principle stresses that Moses is the most honored of all prophets before and after him and his teachings form the foundation of all prophetic teaching. The eighth principle also relating to the mighty role of Moses as the most effective teacher acknowledges the Torah in Jewish possession as indeed the exact Torah handed to Moses by God.

The ninth principle still revolving around the Torah emphasizes that the Torah does not stand to be altered in any way by any body or any believe that may come forth. According to the tenth principle God is all knowing and his understanding over all mankind can not be challenged as he is the power behind the human spirit as evident in his creation. With regard to abiding to the Ten Commandments, the eleventh principle acknowledges that any apostasy is punishable and obedience rewarded by God himself. The teachings of the second last principle are vested in the coming of a redeemer of the whole of the human race who is none other than the long awaited messiah.

Judaism is thus vested in the hope of the coming of the messiah whose time is not yet known hence the perfect faith is established in the long wait and hope. The last principle is based on the revival of souls for those who will have died and this is held in accordance with the will of the one and only God. All the principles are held with strong and perfect faith

Judaism recognizes any body born to either a Jewish father or mother as a Jew alongside any other person who willing accepted conversion to Judaism though any form of conversion is subject to approval by the law and is limited to an individual’s sincererity and ability to learn.Convertion has been controversial among many Jews and any converts are referred to using the title Ben Abraham or at times bat Abraham that means of the Abraham ancestry hence daughter or son of Abraham.Unlike other forms of religion,, Judaism acknowledges coverts as members of a family and thus conversion in to Judaism is similar to adoption.

With the reform movement a Jew who defects Judaism and embraces any other form of religion is not acknowledged as a Jew. This is contrary to traditional Judaism that acknowledged any person of Jewish ancestry or roots as a Jew even if he /she opted to adopt a different religion.

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Judaism as a religion acknowledges the use of various forms of attires in their worship. The most common attire is the Kippah that is a rounded skullcap that is also brimless used by Jewish men while making their prayers to God, reading religious documents or literature with some Jewish men wearing the same at all occations.On the other hand women in the orthodox community have an alternative form of the same outfit called the kippot that is made in varying sizes. With regard to age and sex, there various attires that are worn by women and men during prayers. Some of the outfits can only be used to tell an individual’s status with regard to age and marriage

Prayers among the Jews are made to the one and most high God and most Jews acknowledge both individual and prayers in gathering. Most praying is done thrice in a day with special preference for some occasions that call for additional time for praying for instance the Shabbat and a handful of other Jewish holidays. Joint praying in the Jewish society is made in small gatherings with a membership of around ten in groups that are referred to as minyan.

Minyans are only made of male Jews for most conservative Jewish groups though the orthodox society at the moment accepts female individuals in a number of their minyans.Most praying at Jewish services are preceded with the recitation of any of the thirteen principles. The daily activities of most Jews are marked with prayers alongside benedictions. Most conservative Jews prefer to pray at all times before indulging themselves in any activity. With the advent of the reform movement, most prayers may differ from one Jewish society to another with regard to the praying regime and the type of books used for prayers.

Prayers and most activities regarding to the Jewish religion are held in the synagogues whose contents include the ark in which the Torah is held, a raised platform meant for whoever is to lead the service and a light that is kept on forever to signify the eternal light in the Jerusalem temple alongside a podium in which prayers are made from. Some Jewish societies that embrace the reform movement prefer the use of synagogues to temples.

The Jewish religion is marked by a number of holidays whose impact is to expound on the interaction between mankind and the creator. The major holidays in the Jewish culture are not any different from a number of holidays marked by the people of Israel.

The major three holidays among the Jewish include the Shabbat that is held to commemorate the day on which God took to rest from the work of creation. This day is marked by feasting and celebration among conservative Jews. Celebration starts on the evening of every Friday just before sunset and on the evening of Saturday at the same time. Other most important Jewish holidays include the Passover that has its origin in the days of the people of Israel, the Day of Atonement and the feast of tabernacles. Minor holidays among the Jews include the Hanukah that is a candle lighting ceremony and the Purim a holiday that is marked to celebrate joy.

A comparison between Judaism and Christianity

A critical review of the religious practices among the Jews as implicated in the interview reveals that indeed all other Abrahamic religions Christianity and Islam included have their origin in Judaism. In a close comparison to Christianity both Judaism and the former share very similar fundamentals of religion with regard that they both worship and strongly believe in the existence of one very supreme and authoritative God.

Christian like Jews believe in the power of God with regard to provision of all their needs, reward for obedience and crude punishment for any form of apostasy. The Ten Commandments commonly adhered to by Jews are equally acknowledged by Christians. With regard to religious texts, both Christians and Jews use the same book; the bible that is preferably read for inspiration during services and worship. However Christians unlike their Jewish counterparts read from the New Testament alongside the Old Testament.

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With regard to the mode of worship, most Christian denominations carry out their services in churches and not temples and synagogues. Christianity differs in their mode of prayers with regard to the fact that unlike in Judaism where a number of joint prayers will exclude female individuals, Christianity incorporates all people in most joint prayers. Women in most Christian denominations are acknowledged as important members of the congregation and society and most roles including leadership are equally shared between men and women. Both religions believe in the existence of a high dwelling for the creator called heaven and hell that is the devil’s dwelling throne destined for those who do not up hold what God expects of them ( Egon et al, 2001).

Unlike Judaism whose messiah is not yet known, Christianity recognizes Jesus Christ as the messiah and Son of God who is in himself God. Judaism acknowledges Jesus as any other prophet just like Moses and is not in any way a fulfillment of the prophetic teachings revealed in the old Testamement as it is believed in Christianity. The position of Jesus with regard to personality and position in the heavenly kingdom is the major distinction between Judaism and Christianity.

Jews do not agree with Christians that indeed Jesus Christ is in any way a fulfillment of their long awaited redeemer. The personality of Jesus Christ with regard to his lifestyle and suffering does not march the description of the prophesized messiah in the Old Testament according to Jews. With regard to this, there exists a clear distinction on the personality of God who among Christians exists in three persons yet one being. It is on these grounds that Judaism failed to accept Christianity and thus found the basis of persecution. Jews persecuted the first Christians on the grounds that they acknowledged the personality of Christ Jesus as God but the persecution failed with the enormous growth of the Christian group (Denver, 2005)

Christians unlike Jews believe in the divine birth of Jesus Christians that is celebrated as a major Christian holiday alongside his suffering, death ascension in to heavenly glory which forms yet another very important holiday period among many Christian denominations. Other major differences between the two religions are vested in their form of leadership where a number of Christian churches are led by pastors, priests and bishops while Jews are led by teachers of the law also called rabbi.

Christianity acknowledges Judaism as a true religion that has only failed in a handful of its teachings while Judaism believes that Christianity is not any thing close to the true religion and thus regarded as a false and not fulfilling religion. Other practices like the use of attires especially with the use of head gears is not recognized among most Christian denominations as it is in Judaism. With the resurrection of Christ, Christians strongly believe in the existence of a life after death and finds eternality in life an aspect that is not common in Judaism where life ends on death.

Conclusion

Both Christianity and Judaism share very common fundamental practices and believes. The two differ on the acceptance of Jesus Christ. The Jews rejected Jesus and thus could not accept the church whose membership was founded on the acceptance of his teachings. Christianity however managed to out do Judaism in number owing to the works of the apostles of Christ who made it easy for members to join especially pagans who could not be accepted in Judaism. Conversion into Christianity is not any complicated and regulated as it is in Judaism.

Reference:

Denver, William G. Did God Have a Wife? Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005.

Egon et al the American Jewish Identity Survey, City University of New York Graduate 2001.

Fisher, M.P. (2005). Living religions, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall Inc.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 20). Critical Analysis of Judaism From an Interview With a Jew. https://studycorgi.com/critical-analysis-of-judaism-from-an-interview-with-a-jew/

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1. StudyCorgi. "Critical Analysis of Judaism From an Interview With a Jew." November 20, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/critical-analysis-of-judaism-from-an-interview-with-a-jew/.


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StudyCorgi. "Critical Analysis of Judaism From an Interview With a Jew." November 20, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/critical-analysis-of-judaism-from-an-interview-with-a-jew/.

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