Its origin dates either from Abraham’s covenant with God or Moses’ formulation of monotheism and of the laws attributed to him included in the Pentateuch. However, political Judaism is most closely associated with King David, who set up his capital in Judah and planned the temple of Jerusalem, built by his son Solomon. During the Babylonian captivity (586-538 bc) Judaism was consolidated and the Mosaic law was written down.
As befits a theocracy the distinction between divine and civil law is blurred. God is the supreme power and his command is law, be it religious or civil—a view shared by Islamic fundamentalists. Mosaic law (torah) was fixed by the fifth century BC. It was interpreted by the Talmud and the Midrash. The Talmud includes religious and civil laws not in the Torah proper, and gives explanations of them.
Unlike the Talmud, the Midrash keeps close to scripture and is exegetical. It covers a period from at least the second till the twelfth centuries ad. It consists of (a) the Halakah, a collection of traditional laws and minor precepts not in other written law, and (b) the Haggadah, free interpretation of scripture consisting of parable stories and other non-prescriptive material, used exclusively at Seder, the initial ritual of the Passover.
The high priest was usually the head of state and administered both religious and civil law, though, as in the Maccabean (Hasmonean) dynasty, there were kings. Rabbis were both interpreters of the law and civil judges. The scribes fixed the text of the law and recorded interpretations as they occurred through time. The Pharisees were a sect that devoted themselves to the exact observance of oral and written law. While the Babylonian captivity tended to unite the Jews, the Roman occupation of Palestine, the Herodian dynasty, and finally the destruction of the temple in ad 70 led to the dispersion of the Jews. Fragmentation accompanied dispersion, from the extremes of fundamentalism (Karaites who reject rabbinical tradition and rely on scripture alone) and orthodoxy, to rationalism, either purely philosophical or a mixture of philosophy and Talmudic and rabbinical tradition.
By the seventh century AD Palestine had been occupied by the Muslims. During the Middle Ages Jews spread throughout Europe, west, and east. For the most part they lived in enclaves (ghettos) and from time to time were persecuted, and at best tolerated and protected.
anti-Semitism became politically prominent 1894 when Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jewish army officer, was wrongly convicted of spying for the Germans and deported to Devil’s Island. 1896 Theodor Herzl wrote a book, Der Judenstaat, advocating a Jewish homeland in Palestine. 1897 he organized the first Zionist Congress to further this aim. 1917 the British minister Arthur Balfour promised the British Zionist Federation that when Palestine was liberated from the Turks limited quotas of Jews could settle there. From 1920 to 1948 Palestine was under British mandate. During this time increasing numbers of Jews availed themselves of the Balfour Declaration. This influx was accelerated during and after the Second World War as a result of the Nazi persecution of the Jews in occupied Europe. The state of Israel was established with the blessing of the UN in 1948. The Jews had returned to part of their homeland, but the state was secular, not a theocracy, and Jerusalem was divided.
— Cyril Barrett
The monotheistic faith of the Jews. The word itself (Yahadut) does not appear in the Bible. It is first found in II Maccabees and in Esther Rabbah (7:11). It appears to have been coined by Hellenized Jews (using the Greek word Judaismos) and denotes both a religious and a national concept. The question of whether the Jews constitute a religion, a nation, or both, has been discussed for centuries, especially since the Emancipation(see Jew). In English, it is possible to differentiate between “Judaism” and “Jewishness,” the former including what are termed the “religious” elements. In fact, “Judaism” is an all-embracing concept incorporating not only the ritual aspects, and has been described as an entire “way of life,” or “civilization.” Judaism sanctifies all aspects of life, even including what is today called “secular.” It is concerned with every detail of life.Judaism traces its origins to Abraham, according to Jewish tradition the first individual to have arrived independently at the idea of Monotheism: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment” (Gen. 18:19). From Abraham, the history of the Jewish people can be traced through the Patriarchs to the exile in Egypt, the subsequent Exodus and the giving of the Torah and fulfillment of the Covenant, the conquest of Canaan, the Judges, the monarchy and the later division into two kingdoms, the Babyloniam Exile and the return under Ezra and Nehemiah, the Hasmoneans, the subsequent loss of independence and destruction of the Temple by the Romans, the dispersion of the Jews throughout the world for centuries (see Galut), the record of persecution and pogroms culminating in the Holocaust, the creation of flourishing communities in the West, and the reestablishment of a Jewish state.
In the 3,800 years since the birth of Abraham, two events shaped Jewish history and the Jewish people beyond all the rest: the Exodus from Egypt, in which the people gained their physical freedom and became a nation; and the giving of the Torah at Sinai, where, according to tradition, the laws which guide the Jewish people were received.
Judaism was the first purely monotheistic religion, where belief in the one God replaced the pantheon of gods believed in by the peoples of the ancient world, up to and including the Greeks and the Romans. Judaism is also the “mother” of two other world religions, Christianity and Islam.
Judaism regards itself as a universal religion, in that it sees its legislation as applicable to all mankind. It differentiates, however, between Jews and non-Jews, with traditional Judaism obligating Jews to observe the biblical Commandments (eventually determined by the rabbis to number 613), whereas non-Jews are required to observe only the seven “Noachide Laws” ordained after the Flood. These seven laws require belief in the One God, forbid blasphemy, murder, theft, sexual immorality, and the eating of the limb of a living creature, and mandate the establishment of courts of law. A non-Jew who observes all of these laws is considered to be righteous, just like the Jew who observes all the laws incumbent upon him.
Judaism’s fundamental orientation is practical and this-worldly. There is no officially recognized body of dogma (although certain beliefs are clearly essential). The Jewish Weltanschauung is discerned in Jewish law rather than in a systematic Theology. Concern with Reward and Punishment in an Afterlife is a relatively late development in Jewish literature. Asceticism and preoccupation with the afterlife are discouraged. Redemption is earned through right conduct rather than Faith, and man is believed to have an active role in the perfection of this world.
The practice of Judaism has never been confined to born members of the Jewish people. Although attitudes toward Conversion have varied in different periods and localities, it was always possible for non-Jews to be accepted into Judaism, and according to tradition some of Judaism’s greatest individuals have been converts or descendants of converts. King David, progenitor of the ultimate Messiah, was a descendant of Ruth the Moabite. Since religion and peoplehood are inseparable in Judaism, acceptance of the precepts always entailed becoming a member of the Jewish people.
Since Judaism sees itself as universal, the Temple that was built by Solomon in Jerusalem was naturally open to Sacrifices by members of all nations, as seen in Solomon’s remarks at its dedication: “Concerning a stranger, that is not of your people Israel … when he shall come and pray toward this house … hear You in heaven Your dwelling place” (I Kings 8:41-43).
Within the overall scheme of things, Israel has a defined role to play, as a “light unto the nations” (Isa. 49:6). It is in this sense that the Jews regarded themselves as the Chosen People, i.e., chosen for their mission. Some see Israel as having been instrumental in fulfilling this role to a certain extent in that its two “daughter religions,” Christianity and Islam, have spread the idea of the One God to all corners of the globe. Ultimately, as the prophets see the millennium, all the world will come to appreciate Israel and its God, so that “in the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it” (Isa. 2:2) (see Eschatology). The Bible is based on a discernible but not systematized theology (systematization came only in the Middle Ages). Similarly, its distinctive Ethics is laid down primarily as case examples. The Bible is replete with demands to tend to the needs of the stranger, the Widow, and the Orphan, all of whom, because of their condition, are naturally at a disadvantage. Biblical legislation also makes numerous provisions for the Poor, including leaving the gleanings and the corner of each field to them. The institution of the Jubilee year, in which all land is returned to its original owner every 50 years, was also a means to insure that no family would be reduced to perpetual poverty.
Jewish doctrine stresses that “all Jews are responsible for one another,” and this led to the development of a strong sense of Community. No single Jew has the right to look nonchalantly on at the suffering of his fellow, but must make every attempt to alleviate the situation. Hebrew has no word for Charity as such. The word that is used, tsedakah, is derived from a root meaning Justice, implying that it is only just and proper for those who have to share with those less fortunate. The mutual responsibility of Jews for one another also extends to cases of violation of the law: a Jew who sees another violating the law is required to rebuke the wrongdoer.
Judaism lays great stress on elevating the profane to a state of Holiness. Thus, much of what would otherwise be considered mundane involves ritual elements meant to sanctify. Eating, for example, requires Benedictions both before and after the consumption of food, making, as the sages put it, “the table equivalent to the altar.” Judaism has numerous laws which regulate the minutiae of daily life, the object of which is to transform man’s actions into the service of God.
Along these same lines, Judaism regards the Torah’s myriad restrictions upon the Jew’s conduct as serving to elevate him. It sees the unbridled expression of man’s appetites as animal-like and the restraints imposed upon him as serving to raise him to a higher level. Thus, the Jew must first consider whether the particular food he wishes to eat has met the requirements of the Dietary Laws, Tithes, etc.
At the same time, Judaism does not regard Asceticism as a virtue. The Midrash states that when each person accounts for himself after his death, he must also account for those permitted pleasures on earth which he refrained from enjoying.
Jewish law encompasses all aspects of life. A concept such as “rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s” would thus be alien to the Jewish view of the world. Conduct toward one’s fellow man is governed by the same Jewish law that requires the observance of the Sabbath and the keeping of the dietary laws. Judaism actually considers a violation of the law against one’s fellow man as worse than a violation of ritual law, for the former encompasses a transgression against God’s law as well.
Except for the hereditary monarchy and priesthood (see Priests), the former having lapsed and the latter having been reduced to a mere token of its former place in Jewish life with the destruction of the Second Temple, Judaism is very much a meritocracy, based on scholarship in Jewish law. The dominant role is played by the Rabbi. Originally an honorary title, since the Middle Ages the rabbi’s position has been that of the salaried leader of the congregation, who educates the congregants, decides issues of Jewish law, and guides it in matters of morality.
Various attempts have been made at categorizing Jewish law and belief (see Codification). One of the earliest of these is the talmudic statement that the Pentateuch contains 613 commandments, 248 positive and 365 negative (Mak. 24a). The Talmud then goes on to say that David condensed all the demands made on the Jew into 11 principles, Isaiah into six, Micah into three (“to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God,” Mic. 6:8), and Amos and Habakkuk into one (“Seek me and live,” Amos 5:4; “The righteous shall live by his faith,” Hab. 2:4). The medieval scholar Moses Maimonides enumerated 13 Principles of Faith in which the Jew must believe or be considered a heretic, which include the belief in the One God and in the coming of the Messiah.
Rabbinic Judaism, of which modern-day Orthodox Judaism is the direct lineal heir, takes as a fundamental principle that, alongside the Torah which was given at Sinai an Oral Law was given to Moses, to be passed on by word of mouth from one generation to the next. This Oral Law was eventually transcribed in the Mishnah and expounded in the Talmud and in later Talmudic Commentaries.
It was this principle of the Oral Law as accompanying the Written Law that marked the great divide between Judaism and various sects which broke off from the mainstream, including the Samaritans, the Sadducees, and later the Karaites. All three of these groups denied the authority of the Oral Law, relying purely on the Written Law, with their own interpretations of it.
Mainstream Judaism, which developed from the Pharisees, has also had various movements, but until modern times all began with an acceptance of the fundamental belief in the Divine origin of both the written and the oral laws. Thus, in the Middle Ages, in Europe, and especially later in Safed in Erets Israel, a school of Mysticism developed, based on an earlier mystical tradition, which was preoccupied with the study of the Kabbalah; in the 18th century, ?asidism emerged to extend the concept of the truly righteous man from the learned to the less lettered individual who achieves religious heights through prayer and purity of intention.
With Jewish Emancipation from the late 18th century on, various Jewish movements arose, some along religious lines, others along national or political lines (for it was now possible for Jews to express their Jewish identity without accepting religious beliefs). Among the religious movements that arose, Reform Judaism, which began in Germany in the 18th century, spread to other countries, eventually taking solid root in the United States.
Reform Judaism does not recognize the absolute and literal Divine origin of either the written or the oral law. Rather, it views them both as a composite of Divinely inspired eternal values and ephemeral human elements.
Reform Judaism emphasizes the ethical and moral teachings of the prophets and the rabbis as taking precedence over many ritual practices. Reform liturgy, which is largely in the vernacular, has excluded traditional prayers for the restoration of the sacrificial cult and modified references to resurrection of the dead, a personal Messiah, and the chosenness of Israel. Reform Judaism has instituted full equality of the sexes in religious life. It encourages conversion to Judaism (though it does not “missionize”); and many Reform leaders recognize as Jewish the children of mixed marriages, provided they are raised as Jews and continue to identify with the Jewish people after achieving adulthood.
Whereas Reform Judaism views the totality of Jewish tradition as the heritage of the Jewish people, when applying it to contemporary Jewish life it scrutinizes the tradition in a critical-historical way, measuring particular beliefs and rituals against modern universal values. It rejects any fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible or of any other classical Jewish source.
The Reform movement believes in individual responsibility and autonomy, and as such delegates to each rabbi and community the right to determine which practices it regards as worthwhile and as enhancing Jewish life.
Conservative Judaism, which began as a movement in America at the beginning of the 20th century, is sometimes known as historical Judaism because its founders and leaders wished to underscore the character of Judaism as a civilization which has developed as a result of historical factors. The philosophy of the movement maintains therefore, firstly, that the halakhah of Judaism is dynamic: it grows, it changes, since life itself, which is dynamic, demands that the halakhah be made relevant. Secondly, Conservative Judaism emphasizes the ethical dimension of Judaism above all other values. Thirdly, its leaders have taught that reason is an important and even central feature of Jewish philosophy, so that there is little or no place for any practice regarded as anti-rational. Conservative Judaism became the largest Jewish religious group in the United States.
The Reconstructionist movement applies naturalism to Judaism, seeing it as an evolving religious civilization and spiritual nationalism, and believes the basis of Judaism to be the life of the group rather than a God-given set of doctrines and practices. The recent and small movement for Humanistic Judaism has developed a non-theistic Judaism.
The most prominent example of a Jewish movement along national lines was the Zionist movement (seeZionism), which regarded the conversion of the Land of Israel into a Jewish state as the solution to what was then known throughout the world as “the Jewish problem.” Other movements sought other solutions to the “Jewish problem.” Thus, for example, the pre-war Bund in Eastern Europe was a socialist party that maintained that Jews should remain in their countries of residence and be granted autonomy.
The main institutions within Jewish life have developed over the ages. At first, worship consisted of offering sacrifices at various High Places. Later, such worship was centralized in the Temple in Jerusalem. After the destruction of the Second Temple, its place was taken by the Synagogue (which had emerged as an institution a couple of centuries earlier), which served as the focus for Jewish Prayer. In addition to the synagogue, the Bet Midrash (the study hall for Torah studies) has been a staple in Jewish communities throughout the world, where Education has always played a prime role. Advanced rabbinic studies were carried out in the Yeshivah, the successor of the Academies of Erets Israel and Babylonia. In order to fulfill the laws of ritual purity, the ritual bath (the Mikveh) was considered an essential facility in the traditional Jewish community, its construction taking precedence over that of a synagogue.
Just as certain elements of space (the Temple, Jerusalem, the Land of Israel, the synagogue) were considered as endowed with special holiness, so elements of time were consecrated. First and foremost was the Sabbath, in commemoration of God’s day of rest after creating the world. In the annual cycle of the Jewish year, the three Pilgrim Festivals of Passover, Shavu’Ot, and Sukkot, as well as the penitential season centering around Rosh Ha-Shanah and the Day of Atonement were regarded as holy days. In the course of time, further Festivals and Fasts were added to the Jewish Calendar.
The commandments prescribed to the Jew had to be observed in every situation, but their main focus was in the synagogue and in the home. The Jewish Home and Family life have been fundamentally integrated into Jewish practice and have constituted a basic Jewish value.
The basic religious statement in Judaism, known from its first Hebrew word as the Shema, is the verse from Deuteronomy: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One” (6:4).
The first Jews in North America arrived from Holland in 1654, their ancestors having been expelled from Spain and Portugal at the end of the fifteenth century. The religion of these Sephardic (Spanish) Jews was different from that of the Ashkenazic Jews who arrived in the United States two centuries later from Central and Eastern Europe. Sephardic Jews followed a ritual different from their Ashkenazic counterparts and came from a region where, until the 1490s, they had enjoyed relative peace, security, and wealth under both Muslim and Christian rulers. They were eager to assimilate into American society and did so successfully. During the American Revolution, a Hessian mercenary serving in Newport, Rhode Island, commented that the Jews were “not distinguishable by their beards and attire… while their women wear the same French finery as the other faiths.” The arrival of Ashkenazic Jews during the nineteenth century altered the character of Judaism in the United States. Although many gravitated toward the Re-form tradition, the majority remained Orthodox, especially those coming from Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Russia between 1880 and 1924. As a consequence, Orthodox Judaism in the United States became synonymous with Central and Eastern European Jewry.
By the 1820s three Orthodox Ashkenazic rite synagogues had been established in North America: the first in Easton, Pennsylvania in 1761, followed by Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia in 1802 and, in 1825, by B’nai Jeshurun in New York City. The first Orthodox rabbi, however, did not arrive in the United States until 1840 when Abraham Rice came from Germany to serve the Orthodox congregation in Baltimore.
Orthodox Jews strictly observe the Halachah (Jewish laws). Derived from the Torah, the Mishna (commentaries on the Torah), and the Gemara (commentaries on the commentaries), the laws make up the Talmud, the authoritative text of Judaism. Orthodox Judaism is preeminently a religion of laws and practices that direct and regulate every aspect of life for the faithful. Among Orthodox Jews, however, community is also essential. To worship, Orthodox Jews require only the presence often adult Jewish males, the minyan; they need no synagogue or rabbi. Such a community could theoretically be small and self-contained, having no formal connection with other Jews; in practice, however, such isolation has proven impossible to sustain. Complex issues involving ritual and law frequently compel adjudication from an outside authority. As a result, questions of, and disputes about, faith, law, and practice have linked one Jewish community to another.
The Retreat from Orthodoxy
The years between 1840 and 1880 were turbulent for the American Jewish community. Jews increasingly rejected the Halachi prescriptions as old-fashioned and inapplicable to their circumstances in the United States. Everywhere Orthodoxy was in retreat.
Reform Jews attempted to accommodate Judaism more completely to the modern world. From the 1840s until the turn of the twentieth century, Reform Judaism was the primary form of Judaism in the United States, losing its dominance to Conservative Judaism only in the 1920s. With roots in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, Reform Judaism emphasized the ethical and moral aspects of religion at the expense of ritual and theology. Only in the United States, however, did Reform Judaism attract substantial numbers of adherents.
The first Reform organization in the United States began among members of the Congregation Beth Elohim of Charleston, South Carolina. They wanted briefer services, greater use of English, and the mixed seating of men and women. (Orthodox Jews separate men and women at worship.) When the majority of the congregation refused to yield, the dissidents withdrew and, in 1824, founded the Reformed Society of Israelites.
The principal impetus behind the growth of Reform Judaism in the United States came from German immigrants who created Reform Vereine (Reform Societies) that eventually developed into temples, as they called synagogues. In 1842 Temple Har Siani in Baltimore became the first first Reform temple in the United States, followed in quick succession by Temple Emanu-El in New York City (1845), and later by Sinai in Chicago (1858). During the second half of the nineteenth century, the efforts of Rabbis Isaac Mayer Wise, David Einhorn, and Kaufman Kohler gave institutional order and theological substance to Reform Judaism.
Reform Judaism radically altered Jewish belief, ritual, practice, and law. Meeting in Philadelphia in 1869, Re-form Jews, guided by the liberal David Einhorn, rabbi at Adath Jeshurun (later Beth-El) in New York City, rejected the hope for a restoration of Israel and a rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. Einhorn declared, alternately, that the “messianic aim” of Judaism was a union of all the children of God, not merely the Jews. He also downplayed the customary dietary restrictions and the ritual of male circumcision.
The Pittsburgh Platform of 1885, drafted by Kaufman Kohler, rabbi at Temple Beth-El in New York City and Einhorn’s son-in-law, superseded the Reform statement of 1869 and repudiated all Jewish laws and practices not in keeping with “the views and habits of modern civilization.” In the Pittsburgh Platform, which Isaac Mayer Wise called the “Jewish Declaration of Independence,” Kohler asserted that the Jews were not a nation or people in exile, but a religious community. As such, Jews could anticipate “neither a return to Palestine, nor a sacrificial worship under the sons of Aaron, nor the restoration of any laws concerning the Jewish state.” Kohler and the signatories of the Pittsburgh Platform characterized Judaism as a “progressive religion, ever striving to be in accord with the postulates of reason.”
Controversy and Antagonism
Relations between Reform and Orthodox Judaism could not have been more antagonistic. Reform Jews looked upon the Orthodox as ignorant rabble who had given themselves over entirely to vulgar superstitions. The Orthodox considered Reform Jews heretics and pagans. Yet the majority of the 2.5 million Jewish immigrants who came to the United States between 1880 and 1924, or at least their children, gradually abandoned Orthodoxy and embraced Reform Judaism. Although they accepted the tenets of Reform Judaism, Jewish immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe were unwilling to renounce their Jewish cultural heritage and ethnic identity. Many were ardent Zionists, and by the 1930s had compelled the Re-form movement to change its position on Zionism. Originally rejecting Zionism, by 1937 the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which Isaac Wise had founded in 1889 as one of the institutional centers of Reform Judaism, adopted a statement of principles that called for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.
The effort to accommodate to American circumstances and concurrently to preserve Jewish tradition led to the emergence of Conservative Judaism. By the end of the twentieth century Conservative Judaism was the largest branch of American Judaism, consisting of 850 congregations that represented 1.5 million members.
Conservative Judaism originated from a breach that developed in the Reform movement. At a banquet held in 1883 to honor the first graduating class of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, the caterer, who was himself Jewish, served shrimp, one of the foods forbidden to Jews who follow kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws. Several members of the board of trustees along with a number of rabbis left the banquet in a rage, convinced that they could not make common cause with Reform Jews who apparently sought to ridicule them and to denigrate the customs and precepts they cherished. From this relatively minor incident Conservative Judaism was born.
Although the infamous “trefa (forbidden food) banquet” was the immediate cause of the Jewish division into Reform and Conservative factions, Conservative Judaism had more significant antecedents. Not all Jews in the United States endorsed the radical break with tradition that the reformers espoused in the Pittsburgh Platform. Under the direction of Isaac Lesser, Sabato Morais, Henry Pereira Mendes, Marcus Jastrow, and Benjamin Szold, Conservative Jews sought to perpetuate the Jewish dietary laws, which Isaac Wise had disparaged as “Kitchen Judaism,” the identity of Jews as a people in exile, and the unity of American Jews with their brethren scattered throughout the world. The Conservatives did not oppose change—surely God had not sanctioned all elements of the tradition; some were the work of men and thus men could and, when necessary, should alter them.
Conservatives maintained, however, that Reform Jews encouraged purely utilitarian modifications. They opposed the attitude that the law needed to be replaced not because it had been tried and found wanting but because it had been tried and found impractical and difficult. Conservative Jews did not wish to impugn the tradition but to infuse it with new life. Rabbi Alexander Kohut of Ahavath Chesed in New York City expressed the ideals of Conservative Judaism in a sermon delivered in 1885: “I desire a Judaism full of life … a Judaism true to itself and its past, yet receptive of the ideas of the present.”
Conservative Jews saw their movement as a compromise between the iconoclasm of Reform Judaism and the rigidity of Orthodox Judaism. They emphasized klal Yisrael (universal Israel), and aspired to unite Jews everywhere into a single community as the chosen people of God. In that larger purpose Conservative Jews failed; their commitment, moreover, alienated liberals, some of whom created a fourth American denomination, Reconstructionist Judaism.
A continuation of the ideas of Mordecai M. Kaplan, who urged American Jews to “reconstruct the Jewish civilization,” Reconstructionist Judaism dispensed with belief in the supernatural while retaining some commitment to the Jewish tradition in an effort, as Kaplan wrote, “to maintain the historic continuity of the Jewish people and to express, or symbolize, spiritual values or ideals which can enhance the inner life of Jews.” Most Reconstructionist Jews, however, emphatically reject the idea of Jews as the chosen people of God. Although not an independent movement until the 1960s, Reconstructionist Judaism, by the 1990s, boasted a membership of fifty thousand, with sixty congregations and one hundred and fifty rabbis.
American Judaism in the Twenty-First Century: Problems and Prospects
In the two decades between 1945 and 1967 Jews in the United States, though internally divided, enjoyed a peace and security that enabled them to pursue their version of the American dream. That tranquil period ended with the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. Although the Israelis prevailed, the threat to the existence of Israel brought Jewish history, including the Holocaust, to the forefront of Jewish concerns. Since the late 1960s, the preservation of Jewish traditions, the maintenance of Jewish identity, and the survival of the Jewish people have come to be of paramount importance to American Jews, including many in the Re-form and Reconstructionist movements.
Common concerns notwithstanding, relations have not been cordial among Jews in the United States. No issue inspired greater conflict than the debate over the role of women. The introduction of integrated seating at worship, a practice that both Reform and some Conservative Jewish congregations adopted, ignited a terrible quarrel. From the Orthodox perspective, though, the worst violation of Jewish tradition and law were changes authorizing greater participation of women in religious services. The first alteration came in 1973, when the law committee of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly issued a takhana (legislative enactment) that permitted women to be counted in the minyan. A ten-year conflict also ensued over whether to admit women to the rabbinate. The dispute ended in 1983 when the faculty of the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City voted thirty-four to eight to accept female students. Reform Jews had voted even earlier, in 1972, to ordain women; the Reform decision to consider ordaining homosexuals increased tensions with Orthodox and Conservative Jews.
Predictably, Orthodox Jews have been the most resistant to making concessions. Their defiance strengthened Orthodoxy, which since the 1970s has been the most dynamic and vibrant Jewish denomination. By 2000 the United States had 1,075,000 Orthodox Jews. As young Jews feel increasingly alienated from the secular world and as many seek to rediscover their cultural and religious heritage, Orthodox Judaism has become more attractive. The dramatic and often salutary alternative that Orthodox Judaism presents to those who have grown weary of the degeneracy of modern American society explains, at least in part, its continued appeal. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, however, Orthodox Jews have had to consider whether, and to what extent, their community can maintain it insularity and protect itself from the contamination of the modern world and how much its survival depends upon adaptation to American life.
Davis, Moshe. The Emergence of Conservative Judaism: The Historical School in Nineteenth Century America. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1963.
Eisen, Arnold. The Chosen People in America: A Study of Jewish Religious Ideology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983.
Glazer, Nathan, ed. American Judaism. 2d ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972.
Goldsmith, Emanuel S., Mel Scult, and Robert M. Seltzer, eds. The American Judaism of Mordecai M. Kaplan. New York: New York University Press, 1990.
Herberg, Will. Protestant, Catholic, Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology. New York: Doubleday, 1955.
Libowitz, Richard. Mordecai M. Kaplan and the Development of Reconstructionism. Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 1983.
Neusner, Jacob, ed. Sectors of American Judaism: Reform, Orthodoxy, Conservatism, and Reconstructionism. New York: Katv, 1975.
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Plaut, W. Gunther. The Rise of Reform Judaism. 2 vols. New York: World Union for Progressive Judaism, 1963–1965.
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Sachar, Howard M. A History of Jews in America. New York: Knopf, 1992.
The history of Judaism predates the period to which the term itself actually refers, in that Judaism formally applies to the post-Second Temple period, while its antecedents are to be found in the biblical “religion of Israel.” The Bible is no longer considered a homogeneous work; the many traditions represented in it demonstrate variance and growth. While the historicity of the patriarchs’ existence and of Moses as the giver of all laws is under question, certain dominant themes can be seen developing in this early period that have importance for later Judaism.
Central to these themes is the notion of monotheism, which most scholars believe to have been the outgrowth of a process that began with polytheism, progressed to henotheism (the worship of one god without denying the existence of others), and ended in the belief in a single Lord of the universe, uniquely different from all His creatures. He is compassionate toward His creation, and in turn humans are to love and fear (i.e., stand in awe of) Him. Because God is holy, He demands that His people be holy, righteous, and just, a kingdom of priests to assist in the fulfillment of His designs for humankind and the world.
Israel’s chosenness consists of this special designation and the task that accompanies it. God promises the land of Canaan to Israel as their homeland, the place in which the Temple will be built and sacrificial worship of God carried out. The holy days were the Sabbath, Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkoth; and circumcision, dietary laws, and laws pertaining to dress, agriculture, and social justice characterized the structure of the biblical religion. Three types of leaders existed during this period: the priest (kohen), who officiated in the Temple and executed the laws; the prophet (navi), to whom was revealed God’s messages to His people; and the sage (hacham), who taught practical wisdom and proper behavior. There was developing already in this early period a belief in the ultimate coming of God’s kingdom on earth, a time of peace and justice. To this was added, after the destruction (586 B.C.) of the First Temple and the Babylonian captivity (which many saw as the consequence of idolatry and which may have been responsible for the final stage of the development from polytheism to monotheism), the expectation of national restoration under the leadership of a descendant of the Davidic house, the Messiah.
The Postexilic Period
It was after the Babylonian captivity (not later than the 5th cent. B.C.) that a compilation of earlier texts and oral traditions was made, forming the canon of the Torah, the Five Books of Moses. Subsequently 34 other books were added to form the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament, though the canon was not finalized until perhaps as late as the 2d cent. A.D. The Torah was traditionally attributed to Moses, and study of the Torah was accompanied by expositions and explanations in which the Oral Law, as distinct from the Written Law (the Torah text), is rooted. While it is widely held that the Pharisees further developed the Oral Law, in opposition to the literalness of the Sadducees, it is inconceivable that the latter group could have administered the biblical laws without reinterpreting them in accordance with a changing world, or in the face of a lack of specificity in the text.
The Babylonian exile had exposed the Israelites to new ideas, and it is to that period that the notions of identifiable angels (such as Michael and Raphael), of the personification of evil (Satan), and of the resurrection of the dead can probably be traced. The conquests of Alexander the Great once again brought the Jews into contact with new ideas, most significantly that of the immortality of the soul. Conflict arose within the community of Israel concerning the level of Hellenization acceptable, out of which came the revolt of the Maccabees against the Seleucid rulers of Syria and their Judean sympathizers. The resulting martyrdom of many gave added impetus to the belief in collective resurrection of the dead and the immortality of the soul after the body’s death. These concepts were wed in such a way that while the body awaited its resurrection, the soul was seen as living on in another realm. This new development in no way supplanted the earlier notion of earthly reward; life on earth, however, was viewed by many as preparatory for the next.
As the conditions of life deteriorated, apocalyptic beliefs grew-national catastrophe and the messianic kingdom were seen as imminent events. Some groups (see Essenes; Qumran) fled into the desert to lead righteous lives in anticipation, while others followed claimants to the mantle of Messiah (most notably Jesus). Out of these numerous ingredients came both Christianity and classical, or rabbinic, Judaism.
After the Destruction of the Second Temple
Developing over a period of five centuries (until c.A.D. 500), rabbinic Judaism completed the process already underway, which saw the replacement of the Temple by the synagogue (the Second Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70), of the priest by the rabbi, and of the sacrificial ceremony by the prayer service and study. Basic to these changes was the redaction and codification of the Oral Law (see Mishna; Talmud) and the Midrash, which, as outgrowths of the biblical religion, centered on the relationships between God, His Torah, and His people, Israel. Emphasis was placed upon study of the Torah (in its broadest sense) as the most important religious act, leading to an understanding of the proper way of life; upon the growing need for national restoration in the face of continued Exile from the Promised Land; and upon the function of this world as preparatory for the World to Come (Olam ha-Bah), while not devaluing the importance of life in this world.
Daily life was sanctified by the emphasis in Jewish law (halakah) on the ritual fitness of foods (kashrut), the recitation of blessings for a variety of mundane acts, and the daily, weekly, monthly and annual cycles of prayer. Rites for the personal life cycle came to include circumcision of male infants at the age of eight days, signifying their induction into the covenant between God and Israel; the recognition of thirteen years as the age of majority for religious responsibilities (see Bar Mitzvah); marriage; and funeral rites. During the medieval period, these trends continued and were basic to the several important codifications of the legal material and to the many biblical and Talmudic commentaries that were composed at this time (most notably by Rashi and Maimonides).
The Middle Ages
The kabbalah flowered during the Middle Ages, combining older trends in Jewish mysticism with Neoplatonism and other ideas. The kabbalists retained the idea that the totality of God’s nature is ultimately beyond human grasp (“Ein Sof” [Heb., literally,=without end] as the “Nothing”), yet, in keeping with tradition, held to a vision of a personal God who exists as the active, creative, and sustaining force within the cosmos (“Ein Sof” as the “Everything”). Spain was a major center of kabbalistic thought, which after the expulsions and forced conversion in 1492, spread and became more central to Jewish life in the Mediterranean world. Palestine then became the center of kabbalism, especially as it was developed by Isaac Luria and others.
A Jewish philosophy developed in answer to the questions raised by the exposure to Greek thought as distilled through the Islamic natural philosophy and metaphysics. Central to these issues was the conflict between reason and revelation: whether revelation was necessary if all could be ascertained through reason, or whether reason was imperfect and revelation was God’s assisting humans to know the truth. Maimonides argued that one can say nothing positive about the personal nature of God, which is beyond human comprehension; one can only indicate what He is not (thus, the statement that God is wise says only that God is not ignorant, not how wise He actually is).
While the Jewish Middle Ages is usually defined by scholars as extending at least into the 18th cent., there was a Jewish counterpart to the general European Renaissance of the 15th and 16th cent., and figures such as Judah Abravanel were influenced by contemporary European philosophic currents. The expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 led to the Jews of N Italy, S France, and the Levant coming under Sephardic influence (see Sephardim), and these events provoked much messianic and kabbalist speculation, culminating in the spectacular career of the self-proclaimed Messiah, Sabbatai Zevi.
The Amsterdam community of Marranos (those Jews forced by the Inquisition to adopt Christianity, but who continued to practice Judaism in secret, and many of whom later emigrated and returned to the Jewish fold) often provided a liberalizing influence on Orthodox Judaism, most significantly in the person of Baruch Spinoza, a Jew excommunicated for his unsparing critique of Rabbinic Judaism. The reaction to Sabbatianism and philosophical liberalism caused a hardening of rabbinic orthodoxy, but the Jewish world of the 18th cent. remained turbulent. It produced both the great traditionalist rabbinic figure Elijah ben Solomon and the untraditional figures of Baal-Shem-Tov, the founder of Hasidism (which Elijah himself fought against), and Moses Mendelssohn, the spiritual progenitor of later reformers whom Elijah’s spiritual descendants repeatedly condemned.
The Reform Movement and Zionism
The emancipation of European Jews in the early decades of the 19th cent. brought with it the problem of maintaining claims of distinctiveness, of being “chosen,” and at the same time wishing to participate in the general society. First dealt with by the Reform leaders of Germany (most notably Abraham Geiger), this problem was met directly in Eastern Europe, giving rise to the Haskalah movement, whose members (e.g., Nachman Krochmal) sought to revitalize Jewish life by recreating it along the lines of the best in European culture.
In the late 19th cent., Zionism promised a return to the Holy Land. This again created problems for the traditionalists whose religious ideas were rooted in the Diaspora, and many of whom opposed any movement to build a secular Jewish state in the Holy Land. Eventually, an Orthodox wing of Zionism did emerge. For many Jews still unanswered is the question of whether a full Jewish life is possible in exile, or whether residing in Zion is essential. Theologically, Zionism posed the problem of whether Jews can work for the messianic return or whether this would be counter to another traditional belief that saw humanity awaiting the divine intervention.
Ultimately, it was the halakah (the law) that divided Judaism in the 19th cent. The Orthodox hold both the written law (Scriptures) and the oral laws (commentaries on the legal portions of the Scriptures) as authoritative, derived from God, while the Reform do not see them as authoritative in any absolute sense, but binding only in their ethical content. While Orthodox Jews maintain the traditional practices, Reform Jews perform only those rituals that they believe can promote and enhance a Jewish, God-oriented life. In 1999, however, leaders of American Reform Judaism reversed century-old teachings by encouraging but not enforcing the observance of many traditional rituals. The “historical school,” or Conservative movement, attempts to formulate a middle position between Orthodox and Reform, maintaining most of the traditional rituals but recognizing the need to make changes in accordance with overriding contemporary considerations. Conservative Jews believe that the history of Judaism proves their basic assumptions: that tradition and change have always gone hand in hand and that what is central to Judaism and has remained constant throughout the centuries is the people of Israel (and their needs), not the fundamentalism of Orthodoxy nor what they consider the abandonment of traditions by Reform. The related Reconstructionist movement of Mordechai M. Kaplan holds Judaism to be a human-centered rather than a God-centered religious civilization.
Also part of contemporary Judaism are the several Sephardic traditions maintained in Israel, France, Canada, and the United States by immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa and by European Sephardim in Europe and the Americas; the several Hasidic groups in Israel and the United States; the religious and secular Zionists in Israel and the Diaspora; the unorganized secular Jews, who maintain an atheist’s or agnostic’s adherence to Jewish values and culture; and those unorganized Jews who seek a religious life outside the synagogue. These many positions represent the most recent attempts at defining the “essence of Judaism,” a process that has been continuous throughout the ages, variously emphasizing one of the three major components of Judaism (God, Torah, Israel) over the remaining two.
See J. L. Blau, Modern Varieties of Judaism (1966); M. M. Kaplan, Judaism as a Civilization (2d ed. 1957, repr. 1967); J. Neusner, There We Sat Down (1972); R. Seltzer, Jewish People, Jewish Thought (1980); A. Eisen, The Chosen People in America (1983); M. A. Meyer, Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement (1988); G. Robinson, Essential Judaism (2000); J. R. Baskin and K. Seeskin, ed., The Cambridge Guide to Jewish History, Religion, and Culture (2010); M. Brenner, A Short History of the Jews (tr. 2010).
The religion of the Jewish people.
Judaism developed out of scripture (the Torah) and an oral tradition of legal and ethical conduct as inscribed in the Talmud, codes, mystical literature, and rabbinic commentaries. Although traditional Jews assume that Judaism has remained unchanged from the revelation at Sinai to the present, most scholars agree that it has been transformed by the vicissitudes of Jewish history since the days of the Bible.
A significant turning point in Judaism occurred when the wandering Israelites entered into the Promised Land and later when they built their Holy Temple in Jerusalem. For much of this time, the religion was essentially a temple cult, organized around regular ritual sacrifices and a series of three pilgrimages to Jerusalem, and practiced by a people ruled by kings, guided by prophets, and ministered to by priests.
After the Babylonian destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E. and even more so following the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., Judaism became a religion of exile. Replacing the temple and temple rites were synagogues, regular prayer, and an emphasis on the lifelong study of sacred texts in the Torah. Rabbis and teachers replaced the priests and prophets, and Jewish community leaders, the kings. This new Judaism was a more portable religion, appropriate to a wandering people. Moral and ethical laws became central, but ritual praxis, governed by strict codes and guided by rabbinic interpretation of the law, was also crucial. The Torah became the focus of Judaism, the yeshiva its most important sanctuary, and a return to the Promised Land Zion and a rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem remained abiding hopes and part of the promise of messianic redemption.
The Diaspora has led to a nuancing of Jewish tradition into distinct customs. Among the most outstanding have been the custom variations between Sephardic Jews, whose expatriation occurred in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula, and Ashkenazic Jews, who trace their origins to France and the German-speaking countries but who emigrated ultimately to almost all of Europe and later to the Americas. Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazic Jews share a belief in Scripture and a dependence on the Talmud, but they have evolved variations in custom and ritual praxis based upon their varying ethnic experiences and the disparate rabbinic authorities by whom they have been guided over the years. Nevertheless, many of the rabbis and their commentaries have, through time, acquired a religious legitimacy that supersedes these differences. Thus, for example, Rashi, an eleventh-century Ashkenazic exegete, and Maimonides, a twelfth-century Sephardic rabbinic codifier, are recognized by all Jewish traditions to be authoritative interpreters of Judaism.
By and large, Judaism defines a Jew as someone born of a Jewish mother or someone who has submitted to religious conversion. Although there is debate about what constitute the minimal requirements of conversion, the halakhic ( Judeo – legal) minimum requirement consists of circumcision for males, immersion in the waters of a ritual bath (mikveh), a period of Torah study, and a commitment to be bound by all the laws of Judaism. During the twentieth century, some non-Orthodox Jews expanded this religious definition to include children of either a Jewish father or mother and do not require a commitment to keep all the laws. The definition is a crucial one in Israel, which guarantees full citizenship rights to all Jews.
Through most of the period of the Diaspora, Judaism has tended to focus on matters of praxis more than on principles of faith, because, it was argued, the former better guaranteed the religion’s continuity while ensuring the integrity of belief. Since the eighteenth century and especially in the twentieth century, however, a large-scale move away from praxis has occurred. A result of religious reform and social changes that brought Jews out of their status as pariahs and into the mainstream of Western societies, this development has led to a Judaism that focuses more on its moral and ethical principles and on some vague notions of ethnicity than it does on ritual praxis. Accordingly, in contemporary Judaism, those who strictly maintain traditions, ritual praxis, and time-honored Jewish codes of conduct now constitute a growing minority.
Although the principles of Jewish faith have been the subject of much discussion and debate among Jewish philosophers and rabbinic commentators, among the most commonly cited essentials are thirteen principles listed by Maimonides. These include a belief in a single Creator, a unique and everlasting God, who is incorporeal, who existed before time began and will last after it has passed, and who alone is worthy of worship. It also includes a belief in the utterances of the prophets, and especially the words of Moses; a conviction that the entire Torah was divinely revealed to Moses at Sinai and passed on intact to the Jewish people, who may not replace it with another set of teachings; and a belief that God is omniscient and that He creates all life, rewards the good, and punishes the bad. Finally, it includes a faith in the promise of messianic redemption. In the same way that only a minority of Jews today abide by all the rules of Jewish law and praxis, so is it likely that only a few Jews today hold all of the thirteen beliefs.
Although Judaism has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to survive the vicissitudes of Jewish history and the vagaries of existence in the Diaspora, including persecution and pogrom (most recently during the European Holocaust), some observers are anxious about its future in the context of an open society like America’s and that of a secular state like Israel, the two largest population centers of Jewry today. Pointing to a decline in numbers of Jews in America as well as a diminution of Jewish education, practice, and faith, these observers argue that Judaism’s days as a vital religion are numbered in America and throughout the Diaspora. On the other hand, looking at Israel’s large-scale redefinition of Jews as secular Israelis, other observers worry no less about the future of the religion in the Jewish homeland. To some of these observers, the answer to these anxieties is to press for the coming of the Messiah. To others, the answer is a revitalization of Jewish education and a return to Jewish tradition.
Finkelstein, L., ed. The Jews: Their History, 4th edition. New York: Schocken Books, 1970.
Glatzer, Nahum N., ed. In Time and Eternity: A Jewish Reader. New York: Schocken Books, 1946.
Heilman, Samuel C., and Cohen, Steven M. Cosmopolitans and Parochials: Modern Orthodox Jews in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.
— SAMUEL C. HEILMAN
The phenomenon of fasting in the variegated history of Judaism has its roots in the biblical text. Though it is not entirely clear why and when this practice arose, it is certain that in ancient Israel, abstaining from food and drink on both the individual and communal level was considered an act of piety that one would (in most cases spontaneously) undertake as a means of entreating God’s compassion or in the hope of averting divine punishment ( Judges 20:26; 1 Kings 21:9, 27; 1 Sam. 7:6; 2 Sam. 12:16, 22; Jer. 14:12, 36:6, 9; Joel 1:14, 2:12, 15; Jonah 3:5; Ps. 35:13, 69:11–12; Esther 4:16; Dan. 9:3; Ezra 8:21, 23; Neh. 1:4; 2 Chron. 20:3) or as a sign of mourning and lament (1 Sam. 31:13; 2 Sam. 1:12; 12; Zech. 7:5; Esther 4:3; Ezra 10:6; Dan. 10:2–3; 1 Chron. 10:12).
The four fixed fast days mentioned by the post-exilic prophet Zechariah relate to calamities centered about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (Zech. 8:19): the fast of the fourth month corresponds to what is celebrated as the seventeenth of Tammuz, which marks the breaching of the walls of the city (in 2 Kings 25:4 and Jer. 39:2 the date is the ninth); the fast of the fifth month, the ninth of Av when the Temple was destroyed (in 2 Kings 25:8 and Jer. 52:12–13 the date is the tenth); the fast of the seventh month, the third of Tishrei when Gedaliah, the Babylonian-appointed governor of Judah, was murdered (2 Kings 25:25, Jer. 41:1–2); and the fast of the tenth month, the tenth of Tevet, which marks the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (2 Kings 25:1–2, Jer. 52:4). The custom to fast on the thirteenth of Adar, the day before the holiday of Purim, which celebrates the downfall of Haman and the redemption of the Jewish people, does not commemorate a tragedy in Jewish history but rather stands as a reminder of a precarious moment when disaster was averted (Esther 4:16).
By contrast, the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur (celebrated on the tenth day of the seventh month, which is enumerated as the first month of the new year), the one fast specified in the Pentateuch, is part of the afflicting of the body—according to later rabbinic law this comprises five forms of self-denial: abstention from eating, washing, anointing, wearing shoes, and cohabitation; Mishnah Yoma 8:1—that is a means of purification from transgression (Lev. 16:29–34, 23:27–32; Num. 29:7–11). From other verses we can deduce that refraining from eating and drinking was considered one of various methods of abstinence by which one could afflict the body, acts that were often accompanied by oaths and vows (Num. 30:2–16; Dan. 10:12). There is evidence to suggest that fasting was also practiced as preparation for communing with the spirits of the dead (1 Sam. 28:20). The narrative about Moses being with God for the forty days in which he wrote the tablets of law specifies that during that time he neither ate bread nor drank water, indicating that he was in a transformed state wherein the normal physical needs could be discarded (Exod. 34:28; Deut. 9:9, 18), a theme that is applied as well to Elijah when he had the theophany on Horeb, the mountain of God (1 Kings 19:8–12). In the case of Daniel as well, acts of prayer, which included fasting, were answered with a vision of the divine (Dan. 9:20–27, 10:7–21).
Abstention from food was considered one of the several typical acts of humbling oneself, which may have included renting one’s clothes, lying in sackcloth, walking about in a subdued posture, sleeping on the floor, and not washing, anointing, or changing one’s clothes (2 Sam. 1:11–12, 12:16–20; 1 Kings 21:27; Jonah 3:5; Ps. 35:13, 69:12; Esther 4:3; Dan. 9:3; Neh. 9:1). Fasting could also accompany weeping and the offering of sacrifices ( Judges 20:26; Joel 2:12) or the confession of one’s iniquities (1 Sam. 7:6; Neh. 9:2; Dan. 9:4), but on occasion it takes the place of the sacrificial cult ( Joel 1:13–14). The purpose of fasting as a ceremonial expression of remorse and supplication is underscored in the prophetic pronouncements against those who would fast without the proper intent as if God demanded of the Israelites external forms of self-affliction without commitment to act justly (Isa. 58:3–7; Jer. 14:12). Indeed, according to the messianic declaration of Zechariah, the fast days in Israel commemorating past suffering centered around the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple would be transformed into occasions for joy provided there would be love of honesty and integrity (Zech. 8:19).
Fasting without repentance is of no value. In the Second Temple period, abstaining from eating and drinking continued to serve as a primary means of atonement, but in addition we have evidence that on occasion it functioned as an ascetic regimen that served to purify the heart and bring one closer to God, and even in some cases to induce an ecstatic state wherein a supernatural vision was granted (2 Bar. 12:5, 20:5–6, 43:3; 4 Ezra 5:13–20, 6:35–36). There is evidence from the rabbinic corpus that select individuals similarly fasted excessively in order to have visionary experiences (Palestinian Talmud, Kil’ayim 9:4, 32b), a phenomenon attested as well in the Heikhalot literature, the magical and mystical texts that began to take shape roughly during the time that Judaism and Christianity began to emerge as distinct liturgical communities. We know little about the social background of the individuals responsible for these texts, but we can conclude with some degree of certainty that they adopted ascetic practices, primarily fasting and sexual renunciation, as preparation for dream-vision, angelic adjuration, or heavenly ascent. In the tenth century, a leading rabbinic figure, Hai Gaon, summarized these older practices by saying that anyone who wished to gaze at the chariot must “sit fasting for a specified number of days, place his head between his knees, and whisper to the earth many prescribed songs and hymns.” It is likely that fasting or even a restricted diet (together with sexual abstinence) was viewed as means by which the human could be transformed into an angelic being, a prerequisite for the attainment of the visionary encounter with an angel or the glory.
Perhaps some of the rabbis developed a critical stance vis-à-vis fasting as an appropriate form of piety to combat such individuals and their anomian customs. Thus, a dictum is transmitted in the name of R. Yose: “An individual is not permitted to torment himself in fasting lest he fall upon the community and they will need to support him” (Tosefta, Ta’anit 2:12). According to another statement attributed to Samuel, “Whoever sits in a fast is called a sinner” (Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 11a). In the words of a maxim ascribed to Reish Laqish, “the scholar is not permitted to sit and fast for it diminishes the work of heaven” (Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 11b). Finally, Rav reportedly declared that “in the future a man will have to give an account for everything that his eye saw but he did not eat” (Palestinian Talmud, Qiddushin 4:12, 66b).
An especially interesting concern for the rabbis was the abstinent woman whose constant fasting “causes her to lose virginity” (Palestinian Talmud, Sotah 3:4, 19a). Indeed, on account of the reduced intake of food she is called the “fasting virgin,” a term that suggests that the challenge such a woman posed was that she disrupted the societal expectations by abdicating the domestic responsibility of child bearing. In contrast to early Christianity where virginity and fasting were considered virtuous acts of piety, the rabbinic sages castigated the woman who adopted an ascetic lifestyle with regard to sexuality and eating. According to one rabbinic ruling, the ascetic woman is enumerated among those who bring destruction to the world (Mishnah, Sotah 3:4), an expression meant to convey that female celibacy results in the breakdown of marital life and the bearing of progeny.
The basic approach to fasting was continued by the rabbis who, in their characteristic fashion, codified specific regulations to fashion the biblical references into binding rituals. In addition, the rabbis decreed additional fasts in the course of the calendar, generally associated with the fixed fasts and other calamitous events in biblical and postbiblical history. Yet, the rabbinic authorities were opposed to extreme forms of abstinence, including fasting, as we find, for instance, in the Therapeutaue community described by Philo, early Christian communities, and the individuals whose experiences are preserved in the Heikhalot texts. It must be pointed out, however, that the rabbinic sources themselves yield proof that some members of the academies were more positively disposed toward voluntary abstinence as a way to cultivate the highest form of piety. Thus, there is substantial textual evidence to indicate that sages (many from the third and fourth centuries) undertook excessive fasts as part of an ascetic lifestyle, to attain an extraordinary experience (usually of a visual nature), or for penance (Palestinian Talmud, Kil’ayim 9:3, 32b, Ta’anit 2:13, 66a, Nedarim 9:2, 40d; Babylonian Talmud, Pesahim 68b, Hagigah 22b, Qiddushin 80b, Baba Metsi’a 85a, Nazir 52b).
Additionally, there is verification that some rabbis preserved an ancient custom, apparently initiated in the land of Israel, to fast every week on Monday and Thursday (Palestinian Talmud, Ta’anit 1:6, 64c; Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 24a, Ta’anit 12a), and there is as well confirmation of the fact that some considered fasting appropriate for Sabbath (Babylonian Talmud, Pesahim 68b, Beitsah 15b) even though others clearly thought the opposite and prohibited fasting on Sabbath (Palestinian Talmud, Ta’anit 3:13, 67a, Nedarim 8:10, 40d), maintaining that Sabbath is a day of joy and rest, the sanctification of which involves physical pleasure, encompassing eating and drinking (Palestinian Talmud, Shabbat 15:3, 15a; Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 32b). A residue of the former orientation is found in the ruling that fasting because of a troubling dream (ta’anit halom) is allowed even on Sabbath (Genesis Rabbah 44:12; Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 31b, Ta’anit 12b). Interestingly, the routine of fasting on Sabbath was revived in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries by figures like Judah he-Hasid, the leader of the Rhineland German Pietists (Hasidei Ashkenaz), who adopted an ascetic form of devotion, and we even have a report by Avigdor ben Elijah ha-Kohen that Judah fasted on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, a practice followed by other rabbis connected to this group, such as Abraham Haldiq of Bohemia, though by no means accepted by everyone. Finally, there are rhetorical flourishes in rabbinic literature that assign supreme theurgical significance to fasting as a means of atonement. Perhaps the best illustration of this approach is the prayer offered by Rav Sheshet before God, which is predicated on the symbolic equation of fasting and sacrifices: “May it be your will to account my fat and blood, which have been diminished, as if I sacrificed them before you on the altar, and you should find favor with me” (Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 17a).
In spite of the admonitions against excessive fasting, it must be said that an ascetic tendency is well entrenched in the classical rabbinic corpus, an orientation that served as the foundation for pietists and mystics at later stages of Jewish history. In particular, the Rhineland Pietists and the Provençal and Spanish kabbalists of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries cultivated ascetic practices to attain a state of holiness and removal from the bondage of the corporeal world, in part based on earlier mystical tracts. An especially important part of the pietistic regimen was fasting, which, together with sexual abstention, was viewed as the mechanism by which the mortal being could be transmuted into an angel. For example, Eleazar of Worms, another leading member of the Hasidei Ashkenaz, chronicles an elaborate ceremony for the transmission of the divine name, which involved ritual immersion, being clad in white clothes, and fasting. Acts of self-denial and self-affliction were considered to be the way of fulfilling the hidden will of God.
In kabbalistic literature as well we find a central concern with fostering an ascetic piety predicated on acts of behavior that transform the human into an angel. Moreover, kabbalists articulated a contemplative goal of union with God, which is often described as the merging of the finite and infinite will, as we find in Azriel of Gerona, Jacob ben Sheshet, and the authors of the Zohar. The rabbinic analogy comparing fasting to sacrifice played a crucial role in shaping the mystical sensibility of offering one’s heart fully to God and subjugating desire (Zohar 2:20b, 119b, 153a). From the symbolic vantage point endorsed by kabbalists, fasting is the instrument by which one becomes a sacrifice and is submerged thereby in the Godhead. In somewhat different terminology, but expounding a similar ascetic ideal, in zoharic literature the members of the mystical fraternity engaged in Torah study are said to partake of the spiritual food that angels eat, the “bread of the mighty” (lehem ‘abirim) (Ps. 78:25), the overflow of divine wisdom, rather than the coarse food of this world (Zohar 2:61b). With this idea we reach the paradoxical reversal characteristic of mystical insight: abstention is genuine consumption.
Utilizing an older midrashic gloss (Leviticus Rabbah 20:10) on the verse “And they saw the God of Israel, and they ate and drank” (Exod. 24:11), the kabbalists affirm that this refers to an “actual eating,” which does not entail physical ingestion, but deriving sustenance from basking in the visual presence of God, a state applied to the righteous and angels in the world to come (Zohar 1:104a, 2:126a). By fasting the kabbalist anticipates that condition in this world and thus has a foretaste of the food that is perpetually fulfilling.
Fraade, Steven. “Ascetical Aspects of Ancient Judaism.” In Jewish Spirituality from the Bible to the Middle Ages, edited by Arthur Green, pp. 253–288. New York: Crossroad, 1986.
Hecker, Joel. “Eating Gestures and the Ritualized Body in Medieval Jewish Mysticism.” History of Religions 40 (2000): 125–152.
Kanarfogel, Ephraim. Peering through the Lattices: Mystical, Magical, and Pietistic Dimensions in the Tosafist Period. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2000.
Swartz, Michael D. Scholastic Magic: Ritual and Revelation in Early Jewish Mysticism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996.
Weinstein, Sara E. Piety and Fanaticism: Rabbinic Criticism of Religious Stringency. Northvale, N.J.: Jason Aronson, 1997.
Wolfson, Elliot R. “Eunuchs Who Keep the Sabbath: Becoming Male and the Ascetic Ideal in Thirteenth-Century Jewish Mysticism.” In Becoming Male in the Middle Ages, edited by Jeffrey J. Cohen and Bonnie Wheeler, pp. 151–185. New York: Garland, 1997.
—Elliot R. Wolfson
Judaism has a rich tradition of dream interpretation. The interest of Jews in dreams was particularly stimulated during their captivity in Babylon, where dream divination was a widespread practice. The Jews, like other peoples in this region, distinguished between good and evil dreams.
The Babylonian Talmud, the largest collection of Jewish sacred writings, is full of references to dreams, rules for interpreting dreams, and means of avoiding evil dreams. The Berakhot section of the Babylonian Talmud contains a number of rabbinic stories, teachings, and reflections on dream interpretation. One common theme is that dream interpretation represents an important but very difficult and complex matter, since dreams are always enigmatic. Thus, interpreters must be very careful to distinguish meaningful and revelatory dreams from worthless ones (“just as there is no wheat without straw, so there is no dream without worthless things”).
Several Jewish prophets gave warnings against false dreams and false interpreters, recognizing that religious heresy might arise from bad interpretation. Rabbinic Judaism laid considerable emphasis on interpretation. According to the rabbis, a dream that is not interpreted is like a letter that is not read, and without conscious elaboration, a dream’s meaning is lost. Many dreams are linked to Jewish Scripture, relating words in dreams to important passages from the Torah.
The Jews had become worshipers of the one God rather than of many special gods, and this idea was reflected in their view of dreams. God alone could be the source of the divine revelations that came in dreams. And, since he was the God of the Jews, they believed he usually spoke clearly to them. In some cases, when the wishes of Jehovah are communicated by an angelic messenger, it is hard to distinguish between dreams and waking visions. In other cases, the dreamer hears the voice of God, or may like Solomon in Gideon, see the Lord himself.
Almost all symbolic dreams in the Old Testament are dreamed by Gentiles. Important examples are the enigmatic messages sent to non-Jews, such as Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar, that only Jews were able to interpret (in these cases, Joseph and Daniel, respectively). Although the Jews had begun to give special emphasis to dream theory, they continued to classify dreams in much the same way as the peoples in neighboring territories.
Judaism (from the Latin Iudaismus, derived from the Greek Ioudaïsmos, and ultimately from the Hebrew?????, Yehudah, “Judah“; in Hebrew: ????????, Yahedut, the distinctive characteristics of the Judean ethnos) is the religion, philosophy, and way of life of the Jewish people. A monotheistic religion originating in the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Tanakh) and explored in later texts such as the Talmud, Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenantal relationship God developed with the Children of Israel.Rabbinic Judaism holds that God revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of both the Written and Oral Torah. This assertion was historically challenged by the Karaites, a movement that flourished in the medieval period, which retains several thousand followers today and maintains that only the Written Torah was revealed. In modern times, liberal movements such as Humanistic Judaism may be nontheistic.
Judaism claims a historical continuity spanning more than 3,000 years. It is one of the oldest monotheistic religions, and the oldest to survive into the present day. The Hebrews / Israelites were already referred to as “Jews” in later books of the Tanakh such as the Book of Esther, with the term Jews replacing the title “Children of Israel”. Judaism’s texts, traditions and values strongly influenced later Abrahamic religions, including Christianity, Islam and the Baha’i Faith. Many aspects of Judaism have also directly or indirectly influenced secularWestern ethics and civil law.
Jews are an ethnoreligious group and include those born Jewish and converts to Judaism. In 2010, the world Jewish population was estimated at 13.4 million, or roughly 0.2% of the total world population. About 42% of all Jews reside in Israel and about 42% reside in the United States and Canada, with most of the remainder living in Europe. The largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism (Hareidi Judaism and Modern Orthodox Judaism), Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism. A major source of difference between these groups is their approach to Jewish law. Orthodox Judaism maintains that the Torah and Jewish law are divine in origin, eternal and unalterable, and that they should be strictly followed. Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal, with Conservative Judaism generally promoting a more “traditional” interpretation of Judaism’s requirements than Reform Judaism. A typical Reform position is that Jewish law should be viewed as a set of general guidelines rather than as a set of restrictions and obligations whose observance is required of all Jews. Historically, special courts enforced Jewish law; today, these courts still exist but the practice of Judaism is mostly voluntary. Authority on theological and legal matters is not vested in any one person or organization, but in the sacred texts and rabbis and scholars who interpret them.
Defining character and principles of faith
Unlike other ancient Near Eastern gods, the Hebrew God is portrayed as unitary and solitary; consequently, the Hebrew God’s principal relationships are not with other gods, but with the world, and more specifically, with the people He created. Judaism thus begins with an ethical monotheism: the belief that God is one, and concerned with the actions of humankind. According to the Hebrew Bible, God promised Abraham to make of his offspring a great nation. Many generations later, he commanded the nation of Israel to love and worship only one God; that is, the Jewish nation is to reciprocate God’s concern for the world. He also commanded the Jewish people to love one another; that is, Jews are to imitate God’s love for people. These commandments are but two of a large corpus of commandments and laws that constitute this covenant, which is the substance of Judaism.
Thus, although there is an esoteric tradition in Judaism (Kabbalah), Rabbinic scholar Max Kadushin has characterized normative Judaism as “normal mysticism”, because it involves every-day personal experiences of God through ways or modes that are common to all Jews. This is played out through the observance of the halakhot and given verbal expression in the Birkat Ha-Mizvot, the short blessings that are spoken every time a positive commandment is to be fulfilled.
- The ordinary, familiar, everyday things and occurrences, we have constitute occasions for the experience of God. Such things as one’s daily sustenance, the very day itself, are felt as manifestations of God’s loving-kindness, calling for the Berakhot. Kedushah, holiness, which is nothing else than the imitation of God, is concerned with daily conduct, with being gracious and merciful, with keeping oneself from defilement by idolatry, adultery, and the shedding of blood. The Birkat Ha-Mitzwot evokes the consciousness of holiness at a rabbinic rite, but the objects employed in the majority of these rites are non-holy and of general character, while the several holy objects are non-theurgic. And not only do ordinary things and occurrences bring with them the experience of God. Everything that happens to a man evokes that experience, evil as well as good, for a Berakah is said also at evil tidings. Hence, although the experience of God is like none other, the occasions for experiencing Him, for having a consciousness of Him, are manifold, even if we consider only those that call for Berakot.
Whereas Jewish philosophers often debate whether God is immanent or transcendent, and whether people have free will or their lives are determined, Halakha is a system through which any Jew acts to bring God into the world.
Ethical monotheism is central in all sacred or normative texts of Judaism. However, monotheism has not always been followed in practice. The Jewish Bible (Tanakh) records and repeatedly condemns the widespread worship of other gods in ancient Israel. In the Greco-Roman era, many different interpretations of monotheism existed in Judaism, including the interpretations that gave rise to Christianity.
Moreover, as a non-creedal religion, some have argued that Judaism does not require one to believe in God. For some, observance of Jewish law is more important than belief in God per se. In modern times, some liberal Jewish movements do not accept the existence of a personified deity active in history.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, is the Creator and Guide of everything that has been created; He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, is One, and that there is no unity in any manner like His, and that He alone is our God, who was, and is, and will be.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, has no body, and that He is free from all the properties of matter, and that there can be no (physical) comparison to Him whatsoever.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, is the first and the last.
- I believe with perfect faith that to the Creator, Blessed be His Name, and to Him alone, it is right to pray, and that it is not right to pray to any being besides Him.
- I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.
- I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses our teacher, peace be upon him, was true, and that he was the chief of the prophets, both those who preceded him and those who followed him.
- I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that is now in our possession is the same that was given to Moses our teacher, peace be upon him.
- I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be exchanged, and that there will never be any other Torah from the Creator, Blessed be His Name.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, knows all the deeds of human beings and all their thoughts, as it is written, “Who fashioned the hearts of them all, Who comprehends all their actions” (Psalms 33:15).
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, rewards those who keep His commandments and punishes those that transgress them.
- I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; and even though he may tarry, nonetheless, I wait every day for his coming.
- I believe with perfect faith that there will be a revival of the dead at the time when it shall please the Creator, Blessed be His name, and His mention shall be exalted for ever and ever.
Scholars throughout Jewish history have proposed numerous formulations of Judaism’s core tenets, all of which have met with criticism. The most popular formulation is Maimonides‘ thirteen principles of faith, developed in the 12th century. According to Maimonides, any Jew who rejects even one of these principles would be considered an apostate and a heretic. Jewish scholars have held points of view diverging in various ways from Maimonides’ principles.
In Maimonides’ time, his list of tenets was criticized by Hasdai Crescas and Joseph Albo. Albo and the Raavad argued that Maimonides’ principles contained too many items that, while true, were not fundamentals of the faith.
Along these lines, the ancient historian Josephus emphasized practices and observances rather than religious beliefs, associating apostasy with a failure to observe Jewish law and maintaining that the requirements for conversion to Judaism included circumcision and adherence to traditional customs. Maimonides’ principles were largely ignored over the next few centuries. Later, two poetic restatements of these principles (“Ani Ma’amin” and “Yigdal“) became integrated into many Jewish liturgies, leading to their eventual near-universal acceptance.
In modern times, Judaism lacks a centralized authority that would dictate an exact religious dogma. Because of this, many different variations on the basic beliefs are considered within the scope of Judaism. Even so, all Jewish religious movements are, to a greater or lesser extent, based on the principles of the Hebrew Bible and various commentaries such as the Talmud and Midrash. Judaism also universally recognizes the Biblical Covenant between God and the Patriarch Abraham as well as the additional aspects of the Covenant revealed to Moses, who is considered Judaism’s greatest prophet. In the Mishnah, a core text of Rabbinic Judaism, acceptance of the Divine origins of this covenant is considered an essential aspect of Judaism and those who reject the Covenant forfeit their share in the World to Come.
Jewish religious texts
The following is a basic, structured list of the central works of Jewish practice and thought.
- Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and Rabbinic literature
- Works of the Talmudic Era (classic rabbinic literature)
- Midrashic literature:
- Jewish Thought and Ethics
- Siddur and Jewish liturgy
- Piyyut (Classical Jewish poetry)
Jewish legal literature
The basis of Jewish law and tradition (halakha) is the Torah (also known as the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses). According to rabbinic tradition there are 613 commandments in the Torah. Some of these laws are directed only to men or to women, some only to the ancient priestly groups, the Kohanim and Leviyim (members of the tribe of Levi), some only to farmers within the Land of Israel. Many laws were only applicable when the Temple in Jerusalem existed, and fewer than 300 of these commandments are still applicable today.
While there have been Jewish groups whose beliefs were claimed to be based on the written text of the Torah alone (e.g., the Sadducees, and the Karaites), most Jews believed in what they call the oral law. These oral traditions were transmitted by the Pharisee sect of ancient Judaism, and were later recorded in written form and expanded upon by the rabbis.
Rabbinic Judaism (which derives from the Pharisees) has always held that the books of the Torah (called the written law) have always been transmitted in parallel with an oral tradition. To justify this viewpoint, Jews point to the text of the Torah, where many words are left undefined, and many procedures mentioned without explanation or instructions; this, they argue, means that the reader is assumed to be familiar with the details from other, i.e., oral, sources. This parallel set of material was originally transmitted orally, and came to be known as “the oral law“.
By the time of Rabbi Judah haNasi (200 CE), after the destruction of Jerusalem, much of this material was edited together into the Mishnah. Over the next four centuries this law underwent discussion and debate in both of the world’s major Jewish communities (in Israel and Babylonia), and the commentaries on the Mishnah from each of these communities eventually came to be edited together into compilations known as the two Talmuds. These have been expounded by commentaries of various Torah scholars during the ages.
Halakha, the rabbinic Jewish way of life, then, is based on a combined reading of the Torah, and the oral tradition – the Mishnah, the halakhic Midrash, the Talmud and its commentaries. The Halakha has developed slowly, through a precedent-based system. The literature of questions to rabbis, and their considered answers, is referred to as responsa (in Hebrew, Sheelot U-Teshuvot.) Over time, as practices develop, codes of Jewish law are written that are based on the responsa; the most important code, the Shulchan Aruch, largely determines Orthodox religious practice today.
Jewish philosophy refers to the conjunction between serious study of philosophy and Jewish theology. Major Jewish philosophers include Solomon ibn Gabirol, Saadia Gaon, Judah Halevi, Maimonides, and Gersonides. Major changes occurred in response to the Enlightenment (late 18th to early 19th century) leading to the post-Enlightenment Jewish philosophers. Modern Jewish philosophy consists of both Orthodox and non-Orthodox oriented philosophy. Notable among Orthodox Jewish philosophers are Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and Yitzchok Hutner. Well-known non-Orthodox Jewish philosophers include Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Mordecai Kaplan, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Will Herberg, and Emmanuel Lévinas.
- Torah databases (electronic versions of the Traditional Jewish Bookshelf)
- List of Jewish prayers and blessings
- A law that operates under certain conditions will surely be operative in other situations where the same conditions are present in a more acute form
- A law operating in one situation will also be operative in another situation, if the text characterizes both situations in identical terms.
- A law that clearly expresses the purpose it was meant to serve will also apply to other situations where the identical purpose may be served.
- When a general rule is followed by illustrative particulars, only those particulars are to be embraced by it.
- A law that begins with specifying particular cases, and then proceeds to an all-embracing generalization, is to be applied to particulars cases not specified but logically falling into the same generalization.
- A law that begins with a generalization as to its intended applications, then continues with the specification of particular cases, and then concludes with a restatement of the generalization, can be applied only to the particular cases specified.
- The rules about a generalization being followed or preceded by specifying particulars (rules 4 and 5) will not apply if it is apparent that the specification of the particular cases or the statement of the generalization is meant purely for achieving a greater clarity of language.
- A particular case already covered in a generalization that is nevertheless treated separately suggests that the same particularized treatment be applied to all other cases which are covered in that generalization.
- A penalty specified for a general category of wrong-doing is not to be automatically applied to a particular case that is withdrawn from the general rule to be specifically prohibited, but without any mention of the penalty.
- A general prohibition followed by a specified penalty may be followed by a particular case, normally included in the generalization, with a modification in penalty, either toward easing it or making it more severe.
- A case logically falling into a general law but treated separately remains outside the provisions of the general law except in those instances where it is specifically included in them.
- Obscurities in Biblical texts may be cleared up from the immediate context or from subsequently occurring passages
- Contradictions in Biblical passages may be removed through the mediation of other passages.
Orthodox and many other Jews do not believe that the revealed Torah consists solely of its written contents, but of its interpretations as well. The study of Torah (in its widest sense, to include both poetry, narrative, and law, and both the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud) is in Judaism itself a sacred act of central importance. For the sages of the Mishnah and Talmud, and for their successors today, the study of Torah was therefore not merely a means to learn the contents of God’s revelation, but an end in itself. According to the Talmud,
- These are the things for which a person enjoys the dividends in this world while the principal remains for the person to enjoy in the world to come; they are: honoring parents, loving deeds of kindness, and making peace between one person and another. But the study of the Torah is equal to them all. (Talmud Shabbat 127a).
- The rabbi’s logical and rational inquiry is not mere logic-chopping. It is a most serious and substantive effort to locate in trivialities the fundamental principles of the revealed will of God to guide and sanctify the most specific and concrete actions in the workaday world …. Here is the mystery of Talmudic Judaism: the alien and remote conviction that the intellect is an instrument not of unbelief and desacralization but of sanctification.”
To study the Written Torah and the Oral Torah in light of each other is thus also to study how to study the word of God.
In the study of Torah, the sages formulated and followed various logical and hermeneutical principles. According to David Stern, all Rabbinic hermeneutics rest on two basic axioms:
- first, the belief in the omnisignificance of Scripture, in the meaningfulness of its every word, letter, even (according to one famous report) scribal flourish; second, the claim of the essential unity of Scripture as the expression of the single divine will.
These two principles make possible a great variety of interpretations. According to the Talmud,
- A single verse has several meanings, but no two verses hold the same meaning. It was taught in the school of R. Ishmael: ‘Behold, My word is like fire—declares the Lord—and like a hammer that shatters rock’ (Jer 23:29). Just as this hammer produces many sparks (when it strikes the rock), so a single verse has several meanings.” (Talmud Sanhedrin 34a).
Observant Jews thus view the Torah as dynamic, because it contains within it a host of interpretations
According to Rabbinic tradition, all valid interpretations of the written Torah were revealed to Moses at Sinai in oral form, and handed down from teacher to pupil (The oral revelation is in effect coextensive with the Talmud itself). When different rabbis forwarded conflicting interpretations, they sometimes appealed to hermeneutic principles to legitimize their arguments; some rabbis claim that these principles were themselves revealed by God to Moses at Sinai.
Thus, Hillel called attention to seven commonly used in the interpretation of laws (baraita at the beginning of Sifra); R. Ishmael, thirteen (baraita at the beginning of Sifra; this collection is largely an amplification of that of Hillel). Eliezer b. Jose ha-Gelili listed 32, largely used for the exegesis of narrative elements of Torah. All the hermeneutic rules scattered through the Talmudim and Midrashim have been collected by Malbim in Ayyelet ha-Shachar, the introduction to his commentary on the Sifra. Nevertheless, R. Ishmael’s 13 principles are perhaps the ones most widely known; they constitute an important, and one of Judaism’s earliest, contributions to logic, hermeneutics, and jurisprudence.Judah Hadassi incorporated Ishmael’s principles into Karaite Judaism in the 12th century. Today R. Ishmael’s 13 principles are incorporated into the Jewish prayer book to be read by observant Jews on a daily basis.
Origin of the term “Judaism”
The term Judaism derives from the Latin Iudaismus, derived from the Greek ?????????? Ioudaïsmos, and ultimately from the Hebrew?????, Yehudah, “Judah“; in Hebrew: ????????, Yahadut. It first appears as the Hellenistic Greek iudaismos in 2nd Maccabees in the 2nd century BCE. In the context of the age and period it held the meaning of seeking or forming part of a cultural entity, that of iudea, the Greek derivative of Persian Yehud, and can be compared with hellenismos, meaning acceptance of Hellenic cultural norms (the conflict between iudaismos and hellenismos lay behind the Maccabeean revolt and hence the invention of the term iudaismos). The earliest instance of the term in English, used to mean “the profession or practice of the Jewish religion; the religious system or polity of the Jews”, is Robert Fabyan’s The newe cronycles of Englande and of Fraunce a 1513. As an English translation of the Latin, the first instance in English is a 1611 translation of the Apocrypha(Deuterocanon in Catholic and OrthodoxChristianity), 2 Macc. ii. 21 “Those that behaved themselues manfully to their honour for Iudaisme.”
Distinction between Jews as a people and Judaism
According to Daniel Boyarin, the underlying distinction between religion and ethnicity is foreign to Judaism itself, and is one form of the dualism between spirit and flesh that has its origin in Platonic philosophy and that permeated Hellenistic Judaism. Consequently, in his view, Judaism does not fit easily into conventional Western categories, such as religion, ethnicity, or culture. Boyarin suggests that this in part reflects the fact that much of Judaism’s more than 3,000-year history predates the rise of Western culture and occurred outside the West (that is, Europe, particularly medieval and modern Europe). During this time, Jews have experienced slavery, anarchic and theocratic self-government, conquest, occupation, and exile; in the Diasporas, they have been in contact with and have been influenced by ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Hellenic cultures, as well as modern movements such as the Enlightenment (see Haskalah) and the rise of nationalism, which would bear fruit in the form of a Jewish state in the Levant. They also saw an elite convert to Judaism (the Khazars), only to disappear as the centers of power in the lands once occupied by that elite fell to the people of Rus and then the Mongols. Thus, Boyarin has argued that “Jewishness disrupts the very categories of identity, because it is not national, not genealogical, not religious, but all of these, in dialectical tension.”
In contrast to this point of view, practices such as Humanistic Judaism reject the religious aspects of Judaism, while retaining certain cultural traditions.
Who is a Jew?
According to traditional Jewish Law, a Jew is anyone born of a Jewish mother or converted to Judaism in accordance with Jewish Law. American Reform Judaism and British Liberal Judaism accept the child of one Jewish parent (father or mother) as Jewish if the parents raise the child with a Jewish identity. All mainstream forms of Judaism today are open to sincere converts, although conversion has traditionally been discouraged since the time of the Talmud. The conversion process is evaluated by an authority, and the convert is examined on his or her sincerity and knowledge. Converts are given the name “ben Abraham” or “bat Abraham”, (son or daughter of Abraham).
Traditional Judaism maintains that a Jew, whether by birth or conversion, is a Jew forever. Thus a Jew who claims to be an atheist or converts to another religion is still considered by traditional Judaism to be Jewish. According to some sources, the Reform movement has maintained that a Jew who has converted to another religion is no longer a Jew, and the Israeli Government has also taken that stance after Supreme Court cases and statutes. However, the Reform movement has indicated that this is not so cut and dry, and different situations call for consideration and differing actions. For example, Jews who have converted under duress may be permitted to return to Judaism “without any action on their part but their desire to rejoin the Jewish community” and “A proselyte who has become an apostate remains, nevertheless, a Jew”. (p. 100-106).
The question of what determines Jewish identity in the State of Israel was given new impetus when, in the 1950s, David Ben-Gurion requested opinions on mihu Yehudi (“who is a Jew”) from Jewish religious authorities and intellectuals worldwide in order to settle citizenship questions. This is still not settled, and occasionally resurfaces in Israeli politics.
The total number of Jews worldwide is difficult to assess because the definition of “who is a Jew” is problematic; not all Jews identify themselves as Jewish, and some who identify as Jewish are not considered so by other Jews. According to the Jewish Year Book (1901), the global Jewish population in 1900 was around 11 million. The latest available data is from the World Jewish Population Survey of 2002 and the Jewish Year Calendar (2005). In 2002, according to the Jewish Population Survey, there were 13.3 million Jews around the world. The Jewish Year Calendar cites 14.6 million. Jewish population growth is currently near zero percent, with 0.3% growth from 2000 to 2001.
Jewish religious movements
Rabbinic Judaism (or in some Christian traditions, Rabbinism) (Hebrew: “Yahadut Rabanit” – ????? ?????) has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud. It is characterised by the belief that the Written Torah (Law) cannot be correctly interpreted without reference to the Oral Torah and by the voluminous literature specifying what behavior is sanctioned by the law (called halakha, “the way”).
The Jewish Enlightenment of the late 18th century resulted in the division of Ashkenazi (Western) Jewry into religious movements or denominations, especially in North America and Anglophone countries. The main denominations today outside Israel (where the situation is rather different) are Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform.
- Orthodox Judaism holds that both the Written and Oral Torah were divinely revealed to Moses, and that the laws within it are binding and unchanging. Orthodox Jews generally consider commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch (a condensed codification of halakha that largely favored Sephardic traditions) to be the definitive codification of Jewish law. Orthodoxy places a high importance on Maimonides’ 13 principles as a definition of Jewish faith.
- Orthodoxy is often divided into Modern Orthodox Judaism and Haredi Judaism. Haredi Judaism is less accommodating to modernity and has less interest in non-Jewish disciplines, and it may be distinguished from Modern Orthodox Judaism in practice by its styles of dress and more stringent practices. Subsets of Haredi Judaism include: Hasidic Judaism, which is rooted in the Kabbalah and distinguished by reliance on a Rebbe or religious teacher; and Sephardic Haredi Judaism, which emerged among Sephardic (Asian and North African) Jews in Israel.
- Conservative Judaism, known as Masorti outside the United States and Canada, is characterized by a commitment to traditional Jewish laws and customs, including observance of Shabbat and kashrut, a deliberately non-fundamentalist teaching of Jewish principles of faith, a positive attitude toward modern culture, and an acceptance of both traditional rabbinic and modern scholarship when considering Jewish religious texts. Conservative Judaism teaches that Jewish law is not static, but has always developed in response to changing conditions. It holds that the Torah is a divine document written by prophets inspired by God and reflecting his will, but rejects the Orthodox position that it was dictated by God to Moses. Conservative Judaism holds that the Oral Law is divine and normative, but holds that both the Written and Oral Law may be interpreted by the rabbis to reflect modern sensibilities and suit modern conditions.
- Reform Judaism, called Liberal or Progressive Judaism in many countries, defines Judaism as a religion rather than as a race or culture, rejects most of the ritual and ceremonial laws of the Torah while observing moral laws, and emphasizes the ethical call of the Prophets. Reform Judaism has developed an egalitarian prayer service in the vernacular (along with Hebrew in many cases) and emphasizes personal connection to Jewish tradition.
- Reconstructionist Judaism, like Reform Judaism, does not hold that Jewish law, as such, requires observance, but unlike Reform, Reconstructionist thought emphasizes the role of the community in deciding what observances to follow.
- Jewish Renewal is a recent North American movement which focuses on spirituality and social justice, but does not address issues of Jewish law. Men and women participate equally in prayer.
- Humanistic Judaism is a small non-theistic movement centered in North America and Israel that emphasizes Jewish culture and history as the sources of Jewish identity.
Jewish movements in Israel
Most Jewish Israelis classify themselves as “secular” (hiloni), “traditional” (masorti), “religious” (dati) or Haredi. The term “secular” is more popular as a self-description among Israeli families of western (European) origin, whose Jewish identity may be a very powerful force in their lives, but who see it as largely independent of traditional religious belief and practice. This portion of the population largely ignores organized religious life, be it of the official Israeli rabbinate (Orthodox) or of the liberal movements common to diaspora Judaism (Reform, Conservative).
The term “traditional” (masorti) is most common as a self-description among Israeli families of “eastern” origin (i.e., the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa). This term, as commonly used, has nothing to do with the official Masorti (Conservative) movement. There is a great deal of ambiguity in the ways “secular” and “traditional” are used in Israel: they often overlap, and they cover an extremely wide range in terms of ideology and religious observance. The term “Orthodox” is not popular in Israeli discourse, although the percentage of Jews who come under that category is far greater than in the diaspora. What would be called “Orthodox” in the diaspora includes what is commonly called dati (religious) or haredi (ultra-Orthodox) in Israel. The former term includes what is called “Religious Zionism” or the “National Religious” community, as well as what has become known over the past decade or so as haredi-leumi (nationalistharedi), or “Hardal”, which combines a largely haredi lifestyle with nationalist ideology. (Some people, in Yiddish, also refer to observant Orthodox Jews as frum, as opposed to frei (more liberal Jews)).
Haredi applies to a populace that can be roughly divided into three separate groups along both ethnic and ideological lines: (1) “Lithuanian” (non-hasidic) haredim of Ashkenazic origin; (2) Hasidic haredim of Ashkenazic origin; and (3) Sephardicharedim.
Karaite Judaism defines itself as the remnants of the non-Rabbinic Jewish sects of the Second Temple period, such as the Sadducees. The Karaites (“Scripturalists”) accept only the Hebrew Bible and what they view as the Peshat (“simple” meaning); they do not accept non-biblical writings as authoritative. Some European Karaites do not see themselves as part of the Jewish community at all, although most do. The Samaritans, a very small community located entirely around Mount Gerizim in the Nablus/Shechem region of the West Bank and in Holon, near Tel Aviv in Israel, regard themselves as the descendants of the Israelites of the Iron Age kingdom of Israel. Their religious practices are those of Judaism, but they regard only the written Torah as authoritative scripture (with a special regard also for the Samaritan Book of Joshua).
Jewish ethics may be guided by halakhic traditions, by other moral principles, or by central Jewish virtues. Jewish ethical practice is typically understood to be marked by values such as justice, truth, peace, loving-kindness (chesed), compassion, humility, and self-respect. Specific Jewish ethical practices include practices of charity (tzedakah) and refraining from negative speech (lashon hara). Proper ethical practices regarding sexuality and many other issues are subjects of dispute among Jews.
Traditionally, Jews recite prayers three times daily, Shacharit, Mincha, and Ma’ariv with a fourth prayer, Mussaf added on Shabbat and holidays. At the heart of each service is the Amidah or Shemoneh Esrei. Another key prayer in many services is the declaration of faith, the Shema Yisrael (or Shema). The Shema is the recitation of a verse from the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4): Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad—”Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God! The Lord is One!”
Most of the prayers in a traditional Jewish service can be recited in solitary prayer, although communal prayer is preferred. Communal prayer requires a quorum of ten adult Jews, called a minyan. In nearly all Orthodox and a few Conservative circles, only male Jews are counted toward a minyan; most Conservative Jews and members of other Jewish denominations count female Jews as well.
In addition to prayer services, observant traditional Jews recite prayers and benedictions throughout the day when performing various acts. Prayers are recited upon waking up in the morning, before eating or drinking different foods, after eating a meal, and so on.
The approach to prayer varies among the Jewish denominations. Differences can include the texts of prayers, the frequency of prayer, the number of prayers recited at various religious events, the use of musical instruments and choral music, and whether prayers are recited in the traditional liturgical languages or the vernacular. In general, Orthodox and Conservative congregations adhere most closely to tradition, and Reform and Reconstructionist synagogues are more likely to incorporate translations and contemporary writings in their services. Also, in most Conservative synagogues, and all Reform and Reconstructionist congregations, women participate in prayer services on an equal basis with men, including roles traditionally filled only by men, such as reading from the Torah. In addition, many Reform temples use musical accompaniment such as organs and mixed choirs.
A kippah (Hebrew: ???????, plural kippot; Yiddish: ????????, yarmulke) is a slightly rounded brimless skullcap worn by many Jews while praying, eating, reciting blessings, or studying Jewish religious texts, and at all times by some Jewish men. In Orthodox communities, only men wear kippot; in non-Orthodox communities, some women also wear kippot. Kippot range in size from a small round beanie that covers only the back of the head, to a large, snug cap that covers the whole crown.
Tzitzit (Hebrew: ???????) (Ashkenazi pronunciation: tzitzis) are special knotted “fringes” or “tassels” found on the four corners of the tallit (Hebrew: ???????) (Ashkenazi pronunciation: tallis), or prayer shawl. The tallit is worn by Jewish men and some Jewish women during the prayer service. Customs vary regarding when a Jew begins wearing a tallit. In the Sephardi community, boys wear a tallit from bar mitzvah age. In some Ashkenazi communities it is customary to wear one only after marriage. A tallit katan (small tallit) is a fringed garment worn under the clothing throughout the day. In some Orthodox circles, the fringes are allowed to hang freely outside the clothing.
Tefillin (Hebrew: ?????????), known in English as phylacteries (from the Greek word ???????????, meaning safeguard or amulet), are two square leather boxes containing biblical verses, attached to the forehead and wound around the left arm by leather straps. They are worn during weekday morning prayer by observant Jewish men and some Jewish women.
A kittel (Yiddish: ????), a white knee-length overgarment, is worn by prayer leaders and some observant traditional Jews on the High Holidays. It is traditional for the head of the household to wear a kittel at the Passover seder in some communities, and some grooms wear one under the wedding canopy. Jewish males are buried in a tallit and sometimes also a kittel which are part of the tachrichim (burial garments).
Jewish holidays are special days in the Jewish calendar, which celebrate moments in Jewish history, as well as central themes in the relationship between God and the world, such as creation, revelation, and redemption.
Shabbat, the weekly day of rest lasting from shortly before sundown on Friday night to nightfall Saturday night, commemorates God’s day of rest after six days of creation. It plays a pivotal role in Jewish practice and is governed by a large corpus of religious law. At sundown on Friday, the woman of the house welcomes the Shabbat by lighting two or more candles and reciting a blessing. The evening meal begins with the Kiddush, a blessing recited aloud over a cup of wine, and the Mohtzi, a blessing recited over the bread. It is customary to have challah, two braided loaves of bread, on the table. During Shabbat Jews are forbidden to engage in any activity that falls under 39 categories of melakhah, translated literally as “work”. In fact the activities banned on the Sabbath are not “work” in the usual sense: They include such actions as lighting a fire, writing, using money and carrying in the public domain. The prohibition of lighting a fire has been extended in the modern era to driving a car, which involves burning fuel, and using electricity.
Three pilgrimage festivals
Jewish holy days (chaggim), celebrate landmark events in Jewish history, such as the Exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah, and sometimes mark the change of seasons and transitions in the agricultural cycle. The three major festivals, Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot, are called “regalim” (derived from the Hebrew word “regel”, or foot). On the three regalim, it was customary for the Israelites to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices in the Temple.
- Passover (Pesach) is a week-long holiday beginning on the evening of the 14th day of Nisan (the first month in the Hebrew calendar), that commemorates the Exodus from Egypt. Outside Israel, Passover is celebrated for eight days. In ancient times, it coincided with the barley harvest. It is the only holiday that centers on home-service, the Seder. Leavened products (chametz) are removed from the house prior to the holiday, and are not consumed throughout the week. Homes are thoroughly cleaned to ensure no bread or bread by-products remain, and a symbolic burning of the last vestiges of chametz is conducted on the morning of the Seder. Matzo is eaten instead of bread.
- Shavuot (“Pentecost” or “Feast of Weeks”) celebrates the revelation of the Torah to the Israelites on Mount Sinai. Also known as the Festival of Bikurim, or first fruits, it coincided in biblical times with the wheat harvest. Shavuot customs include all-night study marathons known as Tikkun Leil Shavuot, eating dairy foods (cheesecake and blintzes are special favorites), reading the Book of Ruth, decorating homes and synagogues with greenery, and wearing white clothing, symbolizing purity.
- Sukkot (“Tabernacles” or “The Festival of Booths”) commemorates the Israelites’ forty years of wandering through the desert on their way to the Promised Land. It is celebrated through the construction of temporary booths called sukkot (sing. sukkah) that represent the temporary shelters of the Israelites during their wandering. It coincides with the fruit harvest, and marks the end of the agricultural cycle. Jews around the world eat in sukkot for seven days and nights. Sukkot concludes with Shemini Atzeret, where Jews begin to pray for rain and Simchat Torah, “Rejoicing of the Torah”, a holiday which marks reaching the end of the Torah reading cycle and beginning all over again. The occasion is celebrated with singing and dancing with the Torah scrolls. Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are technically considered to be a separate holiday and not a part of Sukkot.
High Holy Days
The High Holidays (Yamim Noraim or “Days of Awe”) revolve around judgment and forgiveness.
- Rosh Hashanah, (also Yom Ha-Zikkaron or “Day of Remembrance”, and Yom Teruah, or “Day of the Sounding of the Shofar“). Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year (literally, “head of the year”), although it falls on the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, Tishri. Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the 10-day period of atonement leading up to Yom Kippur, during which Jews are commanded to search their souls and make amends for sins committed, intentionally or not, throughout the year. Holiday customs include blowing the shofar, or ram’s horn, in the synagogue, eating apples and honey, and saying blessings over a variety of symbolic foods, such as pomegranates.
- Yom Kippur, (“Day of Atonement”) is the holiest day of the Jewish year. It is a day of communal fasting and praying for forgiveness for one’s sins. Observant Jews spend the entire day in the synagogue, sometimes with a short break in the afternoon, reciting prayers from a special holiday prayerbook called a “Machzor”. Many non-religious Jews make a point of attending synagogue services and fasting on Yom Kippur. On the eve of Yom Kippur, before candles are lit, a prefast meal, the “seuda mafseket”, is eaten. Synagogue services on the eve of Yom Kippur begin with the Kol Nidre prayer. It is customary to wear white on Yom Kippur, especially for Kol Nidre, and leather shoes are not worn. The following day, prayers are held from morning to evening. The final prayer service, called “Ne’ilah”, ends with a long blast of the shofar.
Purim (Hebrew: ????? (help·info) Pûrîm “lots“) is a joyous Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Persian Jews from the plot of the evil Haman, who sought to exterminate them, as recorded in the biblical Book of Esther. It is characterized by public recitation of the Book of Esther, mutual gifts of food and drink, charity to the poor, and a celebratory meal (Esther 9:22). Other customs include drinking wine, eating special pastries called hamantashen, dressing up in masks and costumes, and organizing carnivals and parties.
Purim is celebrated annually on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar, which occurs in February or March of the Gregorian calendar.
Hanukkah (Hebrew: ?????????, “dedication”) also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight day Jewish holiday that starts on the 25th day of Kislev (Hebrew calendar). The festival is observed in Jewish homes by the kindling of lights on each of the festival’s eight nights, one on the first night, two on the second night and so on.
The holiday was called Hanukkah (meaning “dedication”) because it marks the re-dedication of the Temple after its desecration by Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Spiritually, Hanukkah commemorates the “Miracle of the Oil”. According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, there was only enough consecrated oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days – which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate new oil.
Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Bible and was never considered a major holiday in Judaism, but it has become much more visible and widely celebrated in modern times, mainly because it falls around the same time as Christmas and has national Jewish overtones that have been emphasized since the establishment of the State of Israel.
Tisha B’Av (Hebrew: ???? ???? or ?? ???, “the Ninth of Av“) is a holiday of mourning and fasting commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain.
The modern holidays of Yom Ha-shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) commemorate the horrors of the Holocaust and the achievement of Israel independence, respectively.
The core of festival and Shabbat prayer services is the public reading of the Torah, along with connected readings from the other books of the Tanakh, called Haftarah. Over the course of a year, the whole Torah is read, with the cycle starting over in the autumn, on Simchat Torah.
Synagogues and religious buildings
Synagogues are Jewish houses of prayer and study. They usually contain separate rooms for prayer (the main sanctuary), smaller rooms for study, and often an area for community or educational use. There is no set blueprint for synagogues and the architectural shapes and interior designs of synagogues vary greatly. The Reform movement mostly refer to their synagogues as temples. Some traditional features of a synagogue are:
- The ark (called aron ha-kodesh by Ashkenazim and hekhal by Sephardim) where the Torah scrolls are kept (the ark is often closed with an ornate curtain (parochet) outside or inside the ark doors);
- The elevated reader’s platform (called bimah by Ashkenazim and tebah by Sephardim), where the Torah is read (and services are conducted in Sephardi synagogues);
- The eternal light (ner tamid), a continually lit lamp or lantern used as a reminder of the constantly lit menorah of the Temple in Jerusalem
- The pulpit, or amud, a lectern facing the Ark where the hazzan or prayer leader stands while praying.
Dietary laws: kashrut
The Jewish dietary laws are known as kashrut. Food prepared in accordance with them is termed kosher, and food that is not kosher is also known as treifah or treif. People who observe these laws are colloquially said to be “keeping kosher”.
Many of the laws apply to animal-based foods. For example, in order to be considered kosher, mammals must have split hooves and chew their cud. The pig is arguably the most well-known example of a non-kosher animal. Although it has split hooves, it does not chew its cud. For seafood to be kosher, the animal must have fins and scales. Certain types of seafood, such as shellfish, crustaceans, and eels, are therefore considered non-kosher. Concerning birds, a list of non-kosher species is given in the Torah. The exact translations of many of the species have not survived, and some non-kosher birds’ identities are no longer certain. However, traditions exist about the kashrut status of a few birds. For example, both chickens and turkeys are permitted in most communities. Other types of animals, such as amphibians, reptiles, and most insects, are prohibited altogether.
In addition to the requirement that the species be considered kosher, meat and poultry (but not fish) must come from a healthy animal slaughtered in a process known as shechitah. Without the proper slaughtering practices even an otherwise kosher animal will be rendered treif. The slaughtering process is intended to be quick and relatively painless to the animal. Forbidden parts of animals include the blood, some fats, and the area in and around the sciatic nerve.
Jewish law also forbids the consumption of meat and dairy products together. The waiting period between eating meat and eating dairy varies by the order in which they are consumed and by community, and can extend for up to six hours. Based on the Biblical injunction against cooking a kid in its mother’s milk, this rule is mostly derived from the Oral Torah, the Talmud and Rabbinic law. Chicken and other kosher birds are considered the same as meat under the laws of kashrut, but the prohibition is Rabbinic, not Biblical.
The use of dishes, serving utensils, and ovens may make food treif that would otherwise be kosher. Utensils that have been used to prepare non-kosher food, or dishes that have held meat and are now used for dairy products, render the food treif under certain conditions.
Furthermore, all Orthodox and some Conservative authorities forbid the consumption of processed grape products made by non-Jews, due to ancient pagan practices of using wine in rituals. Some Conservative authorities permit wine and grape juice made without rabbinic supervision.
The Torah does not give specific reasons for most of the laws of kashrut. However, a number of explanations have been offered, including maintaining ritual purity, teaching impulse control, encouraging obedience to God, improving health, reducing cruelty to animals and preserving the distinctness of the Jewish community. The various categories of dietary laws may have developed for different reasons, and some may exist for multiple reasons. For example, people are forbidden from consuming the blood of birds and mammals because, according to the Torah, this is where animal souls are contained. In contrast, the Torah forbids Israelites from eating non-kosher species because “they are unclean”. The Kabbalah describes sparks of holiness that are released by the act of eating kosher foods, but are too tightly bound in non-kosher foods to be released by eating.
Survival concerns supersede all the laws of kashrut, as they do for most halakhot.
Laws of ritual purity
The Tanakh describes circumstances in which a person who is tahor or ritually pure may become tamei or ritually impure. Some of these circumstances are contact with human corpses or graves, seminal flux, vaginal flux, menstruation, and contact with people who have become impure from any of these. In Rabbinic Judaism, Kohanim, members of the hereditary caste that served as priests in the time of the Temple, are mostly restricted from entering grave sites and touching dead bodies.
An important subcategory of the ritual purity laws relates to the segregation of menstruating women. These laws are also known as niddah, literally “separation”, or family purity. Vital aspects of halakha for traditionally observant Jews, they are not usually followed by Jews in liberal denominations.
Especially in Orthodox Judaism, the Biblical laws are augmented by Rabbinical injunctions. For example, the Torah mandates that a woman in her normal menstrual period must abstain from sexual intercourse for seven days. A woman whose menstruation is prolonged must continue to abstain for seven more days after bleeding has stopped. The Rabbis conflated ordinary niddah with this extended menstrual period, known in the Torah as zavah, and mandated that a woman may not have sexual intercourse with her husband from the time she begins her menstrual flow until seven days after it ends. In addition, Rabbinical law forbids the husband from touching or sharing a bed with his wife during this period. Afterwards, purification can occur in a ritual bath called a mikveh.
Traditional Ethiopian Jews keep menstruating women in separate huts and, similar to Karaite practice, do not allow menstruating women into their temples because of a temple’s special sanctity. Emigration to Israel and the influence of other Jewish denominations have led to Ethiopian Jews adopting more normative Jewish practices.
Life-cycle events, or rites of passage, occur throughout a Jew’s life that serve to strengthen Jewish identity and bind him/her to the entire community.
- Brit milah – Welcoming male babies into the covenant through the rite of circumcision on their eighth day of life. The baby boy is also given his Hebrew name in the ceremony. A naming ceremony intended as a parallel ritual for girls, named zeved habat or brit bat, enjoys limited popularity.
- Bar mitzvah and Bat mitzvah – This passage from childhood to adulthood takes place when a female Jew is twelve and a male Jew is thirteen years old among Orthodox and some Conservative congregations. In the Reform movement, both girls and boys have their bat/bar mitzvah at age thirteen. This is often commemorated by having the new adults, male only in the Orthodox tradition, lead the congregation in prayer and publicly read a “portion” of the Torah.
- Marriage – Marriage is an extremely important lifecycle event. A wedding takes place under a chupah, or wedding canopy, which symbolizes a happy house. At the end of the ceremony, the groom breaks a glass with his foot, symbolizing the continuous mourning for the destruction of the Temple, and the scattering of the Jewish people.
- Death and Mourning – Judaism has a multi-staged mourning practice. The first stage is called the shiva (literally “seven”, observed for one week) during which it is traditional to sit at home and be comforted by friends and family, the second is the shloshim (observed for one month) and for those who have lost one of their parents, there is a third stage, avelut yud bet chodesh, which is observed for eleven months.
The role of the priesthood in Judaism has significantly diminished since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, when priests attended to the Temple and sacrifices. The priesthood is an inherited position, and although priests no longer have any but ceremonial duties, they are still honored in many Jewish communities. Many Orthodox Jewish communities believe that they will be needed again for a future Third Temple and need to remain in readiness for future duty.
- Kohen (priest) – patrilineal descendant of Aaron, brother of Moses. In the Temple, the kohanim were charged with performing the sacrifices. Today, a Kohen is the first one called up at the reading of the Torah, performs the Priestly Blessing, as well as complying with other unique laws and ceremonies, including the ceremony of redemption of the first-born.
- Levi (Levite) – Patrilineal descendant of Levi the son of Jacob. In the Temple in Jerusalem, the levites sang Psalms, performed construction, maintenance, janitorial, and guard duties, assisted the priests, and sometimes interpreted the law and Temple ritual to the public. Today, a Levite is called up second to the reading of the Torah.
From the time of the Mishnah and Talmud to the present, Judaism has required specialists or authorities for the practice of very few rituals or ceremonies. A Jew can fulfill most requirements for prayer by himself. Some activities—reading the Torah and haftarah (a supplementary portion from the Prophets or Writings), the prayer for mourners, the blessings for bridegroom and bride, the complete grace after meals—require a minyan, the presence of ten Jews.
The most common professional clergy in a synagogue are:
- Rabbi of a congregation – Jewish scholar who is charged with answering the legal questions of a congregation. This role requires ordination by the congregation’s preferred authority (i.e. from a respected Orthodox rabbi or, if the congregation is Conservative or Reform, from academic seminaries). A congregation does not necessarily require a rabbi. Some congregations have a rabbi but also allow members of the congregation to act as shatz or baal kriyah(see below).
- Hazzan (note: the “h” denotes voiceless pharyngeal fricative) (cantor) – a trained vocalist who acts as shatz. Chosen for a good voice, knowledge of traditional tunes, understanding of the meaning of the prayers and sincerity in reciting them. A congregation does not need to have a dedicated hazzan.
Jewish prayer services do involve two specified roles, which are sometimes, but not always, filled by a rabbi and/or hazzan in many congregations. In other congregations these roles are filled on an ad-hoc basis by members of the congregation who lead portions of services on a rotating basis:
- Shaliach tzibur or Shatz (leader—literally “agent” or “representative”—of the congregation) leads those assembled in prayer, and sometimes prays on behalf of the community. When a shatz recites a prayer on behalf of the congregation, he is not acting as an intermediary but rather as a facilitator. The entire congregation participates in the recital of such prayers by saying amen at their conclusion; it is with this act that the shatz’s prayer becomes the prayer of the congregation. Any adult capable of reciting the prayers clearly may act as shatz. In Orthodox congregations and some Conservative congregations, only men can be prayer leaders, but all Progressive communities now allow women to serve in this function.
- The Baal kriyah or baal koreh (master of the reading) reads the weekly Torah portion. The requirements for being the baal kriyah are the same as those for the shatz. These roles are not mutually exclusive. The same person is often qualified to fill more than one role, and often does. Often there are several people capable of filling these roles and different services (or parts of services) will be led by each.
Many congregations, especially larger ones, also rely on a:
- Gabbai (sexton) – Calls people up to the Torah, appoints the shatz for each prayer session if there is no standard shatz, and makes certain that the synagogue is kept clean and supplied.
The three preceding positions are usually voluntary and considered an honor. Since the Enlightenment large synagogues have often adopted the practice of hiring rabbis and hazzans to act as shatz and baal kriyah, and this is still typically the case in many Conservative and Reform congregations. However, in most Orthodox synagogues these positions are filled by laypeople on a rotating or ad-hoc basis. Although most congregations hire one or more Rabbis, the use of a professional hazzan is generally declining in American congregations, and the use of professionals for other offices is rarer still.
Specialized religious roles
- Dayan (judge) – An ordained rabbi with special legal training who belongs to a beth din (rabbinical court). In Israel, religious courts handle marriage and divorce cases, conversion and financial disputes in the Jewish community.
- Mohel (circumciser) – An expert in the laws of circumcision who has received training from a previously qualified mohel and performs the brit milah (circumcision).
- Shochet (ritual slaughterer) – In order for meat to be kosher, it must be slaughtered by a shochet who is an expert in the laws of kashrut and has been trained by another shochet.
- Sofer (scribe) – Torah scrolls, tefillin (phylacteries), mezuzot (scrolls put on doorposts), and gittin (bills of divorce) must be written by a sofer who is an expert in Hebrew calligraphy and has undergone rigorous training in the laws of writing sacred texts.
- Rosh yeshiva – A Torah scholar who runs a yeshiva.
- Mashgiach of a yeshiva – Depending on which yeshiva, might either be the person responsible for ensuring attendance and proper conduct, or even supervise the emotional and spiritual welfare of the students and give lectures on mussar (Jewish ethics).
- Mashgiach – Supervises manufacturers of kosher food, importers, caterers and restaurants to ensure that the food is kosher. Must be an expert in the laws of kashrut and trained by a rabbi, if not a rabbi himself.
At its core, the Tanakh is an account of the Israelites‘ relationship with God from their earliest history until the building of the Second Temple (c. 535 BCE). Abraham is hailed as the first Hebrew and the father of the Jewish people. As a reward for his act of faith in one God, he was promised that Isaac, his second son, would inherit the Land of Israel (then called Canaan). Later, Jacob and his children were enslaved in Egypt, and God commanded Moses to lead the Exodus from Egypt. At Mount Sinai they received the Torah – the five books of Moses. These books, together with Nevi’im and Ketuvim are known as Torah Shebikhtav as opposed to the Oral Torah, which refers to the Mishna and the Talmud. Eventually, God led them to the land of Israel where the tabernacle was planted in the city of Shiloh for over 300 years to rally the nation against attacking enemies. As time went on, the spiritual level of the nation declined to the point that God allowed the Philistines to capture the tabernacle. The people of Israel then told Samuel the prophet that they needed to be governed by a permanent king, and Samuel appointed Saul to be their King. When the people pressured Saul into going against a command conveyed to him by Samuel, God told Samuel to appoint David in his stead.
Once King David was established, he told the prophet Nathan that he would like to build a permanent temple, and as a reward for his actions, God promised David that he would allow his son, Solomon, to build the first permanent temple and the throne would never depart from his children.
Rabbinic tradition holds that the details and interpretation of the law, which are called the Oral Torah or oral law, were originally an unwritten tradition based upon what God told Moses on Mount Sinai. However, as the persecutions of the Jews increased and the details were in danger of being forgotten, these oral laws were recorded by Rabbi Judah haNasi (Judah the Prince) in the Mishnah, redacted circa 200 CE. The Talmud was a compilation of both the Mishnah and the Gemara, rabbinic commentaries redacted over the next three centuries. The Gemara originated in two major centers of Jewish scholarship, Palestine and Babylonia. Correspondingly, two bodies of analysis developed, and two works of Talmud were created. The older compilation is called the Jerusalem Talmud. It was compiled sometime during the 4th century in Israel. The Babylonian Talmud was compiled from discussions in the houses of study by the scholars Ravina I, Ravina II, and Rav Ashi by 500 CE, although it continued to be edited later.
Some critical scholars oppose the view that the sacred texts, including the Hebrew Bible, were divinely inspired. Many of these scholars accept the general principles of the documentary hypothesis and suggest that the Torah consists of inconsistent texts edited together in a way that calls attention to divergent accounts. Many suggest that during the First Temple period, the people of Israel believed that each nation had its own god, but that their god was superior to other gods. Some suggest that strict monotheism developed during the Babylonian Exile, perhaps in reaction to Zoroastrian dualism. In this view, it was only by the Hellenic period that most Jews came to believe that their god was the only god, and that the notion of a clearly bounded Jewish nation identical with the Jewish religion formed.
John Day argues that the origins of biblical Yahweh, El, Asherah, and Ba’al, may be rooted in earlier Canaanite religion, which was centered on a pantheon of gods much like the GreekPantheon.
The United Monarchy was established under Saul and continued under King David and Solomon with its capital in Jerusalem. After Solomon’s reign the nation split into two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Israel (in the north) and the Kingdom of Judah (in the south). The Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrian ruler Sargon II in the late 8th century BCE with many people from the capital Samaria being taken captive to Media and the Khabur River valley. The Kingdom of Judah continued as an independent state until it was conquered by a Babylonian army in the early 6th century BCE, destroying the First Temple that was at the center of ancient Jewish worship. The Judean elite were exiled to Babylonia and this is regarded as the first Jewish Diaspora. Later many of them returned to their homeland after the subsequent conquest of Babylonia by the Persians seventy years later, a period known as the Babylonian Captivity. A new Second Temple was constructed, and old religious practices were resumed.
During the early years of the Second Temple, the highest religious authority was a council known as the Great Assembly, led by Ezra of the Book of Ezra. Among other accomplishments of the Great Assembly, the last books of the Bible were written at this time and the canon sealed.
Hellenistic Judaism spread to Ptolemaic Egypt from the 3rd century BCE. After the Great Revolt (66–73 CE), the Romans destroyed the Temple. Hadrian built a pagan idol on the Temple grounds and prohibited circumcision; these acts of ethnocide provoked the Bar Kokhba revolt 132–136 CE after which the Romans banned the study of the Torah and the celebration of Jewish holidays, and forcibly removed virtually all Jews from Judea. In 200 CE, however, Jews were granted Roman citizenship and Judaism was recognized as a religio licita (“legitimate religion”), until the rise of Gnosticism and Early Christianity in in the fourth century.
Following the destruction of Jerusalem and the expulsion of the Jews, Jewish worship stopped being centrally organized around the Temple, prayer took the place of sacrifice, and worship was rebuilt around the community (represented by a minimum of ten adult men) and the establishment of the authority of rabbis who acted as teachers and leaders of individual communities (see Jewish diaspora).
Historical Jewish groupings (to 1700)
Around the 1st century CE there were several small Jewish sects: the Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, Essenes, and Christians. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, these sects vanished. Christianity survived, but by breaking with Judaism and becoming a separate religion; the Pharisees survived but in the form of Rabbinic Judaism (today, known simply as “Judaism”). The Sadducees rejected the divine inspiration of the Prophets and the Writings, relying only on the Torah as divinely inspired. Consequently, a number of other core tenets of the Pharisees’ belief system (which became the basis for modern Judaism), were also dismissed by the Sadducees. (The Samaritans practiced a similar religion, which is traditionally considered separate from Judaism.)
Like the Sadducees who relied only on the Torah, some Jews in the 8th and 9th centuries rejected the authority and divine inspiration of the oral law as recorded in the Mishnah (and developed by later rabbis in the two Talmuds), relying instead only upon the Tanakh. These included the Isunians, the Yudganites, the Malikites, and others. They soon developed oral traditions of their own, which differed from the rabbinic traditions, and eventually formed the Karaite sect. Karaites exist in small numbers today, mostly living in Israel. Rabbinical and Karaite Jews each hold that the others are Jews, but that the other faith is erroneous.
Over a long time, Jews formed distinct ethnic groups in several different geographic areas — amongst others, the Ashkenazi Jews (of central and Eastern Europe), the Sephardi Jews (of Spain, Portugal, and North Africa), the Beta Israel of Ethiopia, and the Yemenite Jews from the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Many of these groups have developed differences in their prayers, traditions and accepted canons; however these distinctions are mainly the result of their being formed at some cultural distance from normative (rabbinic) Judaism, rather than based on any doctrinal dispute.
Antisemitism arose during the Middle Ages, in the form of persecutions, pogroms, forced conversion, expulsions, social restrictions and ghettoization.
This was different in quality to any repressions of Jews in ancient times. Ancient repression was politically motivated and Jews were treated no differently than any other ethnic group would have been. With the rise of the Churches, attacks on Jews became motivated instead by theological considerations specifically deriving from Christian views about Jews and Judaism.
Hasidic Judaism was founded by Yisroel ben Eliezer (1700–1760), also known as the Ba’al Shem Tov (or Besht). It originated in a time of persecution of the Jewish people, when European Jews had turned inward to Talmud study; many felt that most expressions of Jewish life had become too “academic”, and that they no longer had any emphasis on spirituality or joy. His disciples attracted many followers; they themselves established numerous Hasidic sects across Europe. Hasidic Judaism eventually became the way of life for many Jews in Europe. Waves of Jewish immigration in the 1880s carried it to the United States. The movement itself claims to be nothing new, but a refreshment of original Judaism. Or as some have put it: “they merely re-emphasized that which the generations had lost”. Nevertheless, early on there was a serious schism between Hasidic and non-Hasidic Jews. European Jews who rejected the Hasidic movement were dubbed by the Hasidim as Misnagdim, (lit. “opponents”). Some of the reasons for the rejection of Hasidic Judaism were the overwhelming exuberance of Hasidic worship, its untraditional ascriptions of infallibility and alleged miracle-working to their leaders, and the concern that it might become a messianic sect. Since then differences between the Hasidim and their opponents have slowly diminished and both groups are now considered part of Haredi Judaism.
The Enlightenment and new religious movements
In the late 18th century CE, Europe was swept by a group of intellectual, social and political movements known as the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment led to reductions in the European laws that prohibited Jews to interact with the wider secular world, thus allowing Jews access to secular education and experience. A parallel Jewish movement, Haskalah or the “Jewish Enlightenment”, began, especially in Central Europe and Western Europe, in response to both the Enlightenment and these new freedoms. It placed an emphasis on integration with secular society and a pursuit of non-religious knowledge through reason. With the promise of political emancipation many Jews saw no reason to continue to observe Jewish law and increasing numbers of Jews assimilated into Christian Europe. Modern religious movements of Judaism all formed in reaction to this trend.
In Central Europe, followed by Great Britain and the United States, Reform Judaism and Liberal Judaism developed, relaxing legal obligations (especially those that limited Jewish relations with non-Jews), emulating Protestant decorum in prayer, and emphasizing the ethical values of Judaism’s Prophetic tradition. Modern Orthodox Judaism developed in reaction to Reform Judaism, by leaders who argued that Jews could participate in public life as citizens equal to Christians, while maintaining the observance of Jewish law. Meanwhile, in the United States, wealthy Reform Jews helped European scholars, who were Orthodox in practice but critical (and skeptical) in their study of the Bible and Talmud, to establish a seminary to train rabbis for immigrants from Eastern Europe. These left-wing Orthodox rabbis were joined by right-wing Reform rabbis who felt that Jewish law should not be entirely abandoned, to form the Conservative movement. Orthodox Jews who opposed the Haskalah formed Haredi Orthodox Judaism. After massive movements of Jews following The Holocaust and the creation of the state of Israel, these movements have competed for followers from among traditional Jews in or from other countries.
Spectrum of observance
Countries such as the United States, Israel, Canada, United Kingdom, Argentina and South Africa contain large Jewish populations. Jewish religious practice varies widely through all levels of observance. According to the 2001 edition of the National Jewish Population Survey, in the United States’ Jewish community—the world’s second largest—4.3 million Jews out of 5.1 million had some sort of connection to the religion. Of that population of connected Jews, 80% participated in some sort of Jewish religious observance, but only 48% belonged to a synagogue, and fewer than 16% attend regularly.
Birth rates for American Jews have dropped from 2.0 to 1.7. (Replacement rate is 2.1.) Intermarriage rates range from 40-50% in the US, and only about a third of children of intermarried couples are raised as Jews. Due to intermarriage and low birth rates, the Jewish population in the US shrank from 5.5 million in 1990 to 5.1 million in 2001. This is indicative of the general population trends among the Jewish community in the Diaspora, but a focus on total population obscures growth trends in some denominations and communities, such as Haredi Judaism. The Baal teshuva movement is a movement of Jews who have “returned” to religion or become more observant.
Judaism and other religions
Christianity and Judaism
Islam and JudaismHistorians and theologians regularly review the changing relationship between some Christian groups and the Jewish people; the article on Christian-Jewish reconciliation studies one recent issue.
The relationship between Islam and Judaism is special and close. Both religions claim to arise from the patriarch Abraham, and are therefore considered Abrahamic religions. As fellow monotheists, Muslims view Jews as “people of the book“, a term that Jews have subsequently adopted as a way of describing their own connection to the Torah and other holy texts. In turn, many Jews maintain that Muslims adhere to the Seven Laws of Noah. Thus, Judaism views Muslims as righteous people of God. Jews have interacted with Muslims since the 7th century, when Islam originated and spread in the Arabian peninsula, and many aspects of Islam’s core values, structure, jurisprudence and practice are based on Judaism.Muslim culture and philosophy have heavily influenced practitioners of Judaism in the Islamic world.
In premodern Muslim countries, Jews rarely faced martyrdom, exile or forcible conversion, and were mostly free in their choice of residence and profession. Indeed, the years 712 to 1066 CE under the Ummayad and the Abbasid rulers have been called the Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain. Non-Muslim monotheists living in these countries, including Jews, were known as dhimmis. Dhimmis were allowed to practice their religion and to administer their internal affairs, but they were subject to certain restrictions that were not imposed on Muslims. For example, they had to pay the jizya, a per capita tax imposed on free adult non-Muslim males, and they were also forbidden to bear arms or testify in court cases involving Muslims. Many of the laws regarding dhimmis were highly symbolic. For example, dhimmis in some countries were required to wear distinctive clothing, a practice not found in either the Qur’an or hadiths but invented in early medieval Baghdad and inconsistently enforced. Jews in Muslim countries were not entirely free from persecution—for example, many were killed, exiled or forcibly converted in the 12th century, in Persia and by the rulers of the Almohad dynasty in North Africa and Al-Andalus. At times, Jews were also restricted in their choice of residence—in Morocco, Jews were confined to walled quarters (mellahs) beginning in the 15th century and increasingly since the early 19th century.
In the late 20th century, Jews were expelled from nearly all the Arab countries. Most have chosen to live in Israel. Today, antisemitic themes have become commonplace in the propaganda of Arab Islamic movements such as Hizbullah and Hamas, in the pronouncements of various agencies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and even in the newspapers and other publications of Refah Partisi.
Syncretic movements incorporating Judaism
There are some movements that combine elements of Judaism with those of other religions. The most well-known of these is Messianic Judaism, which arose in the 1960s. It blends evangelical Christian theology with elements of Jewish terminology and ritual. The movement states that Jesus is part of the Trinity, and salvation is only achieved through acceptance of Jesus as one’s savior. Some members of the movement are ethnically Jewish, and some of them argue that Messianic Judaism is a sect of Judaism. Jewish organizations and religious movements reject this, stating that Messianic Judaism is a Christian sect. The most controversial of these groups is the American organization Jews for Jesus, which actively proselytizes ethnic Jews through numerous missionary campaigns in major American cities.
Other examples of syncretism include Judeo-Paganists, a loosely organized set of Jews who incorporate pagan or Wiccan beliefs with some Jewish religious practices, like Messianic Judaism; Jewish Buddhists, another loosely organized group that incorporates elements of Asian spirituality in their faith; and some Renewal Jews who borrow freely and openly from Buddhism, Sufism, Native American religion, and other faiths.
The Kabbalah Centre, which employs teachers from multiple religions, is a New Age movement that claims to popularize the kabbalah, the Jewish esoteric tradition.
Main article: Outline of Judaism
- Jewish views of religious pluralism
- Judaism by country
- List of converts to Judaism
- Secular Jewish culture
- Criticism of Judaism
- United States military chaplain symbols
- ^ Methods and Categories: Judaism and Gospel
- ^ AskOxford: Judaism
- ^ Shaye J.D. Cohen 1999 The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties, Berkeley: University of California Press; p. 7
- ^ Jacobs, Louis (2007). “Judaism”. In Fred Skolnik. Encyclopaedia Judaica. 11 (2d ed.). Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. p. 511. ISBN 9780-02-865928-2. “Judaism, the religion, philosophy, and way of life of the Jews.”
- ^“Knowledge Resources: Judaism”. Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/resources/traditions/judaism. Retrieved 2011-11-22.
- ^“What is the oral Torah?”. Torah.org. http://www.torah.org/learning/basics/primer/torah/oraltorah.html. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^“Karaite Jewish University”. Kjuonline.com. http://www.kjuonline.com/To_Our_Fellow_Jews.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^“Society for Humanistic Judaism”. Shj.org. http://www.shj.org/. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^“Religion & Ethics – Judaism”. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ Religion: Three Religions, One God PBS
- ^Settings of silver: an introduction to Judaism p. 59 by Stephen M. Wylen, Paulist Press, 2000 
- ^Heribert Busse (1998). Islam, Judaism, and Christianity: Theological and Historical Affiliations. Markus Wiener Publishers. pp. 63–112. ISBN 9781558761445.
- ^Irving M. Zeitlin (2007). The Historical Muhammad. Polity. pp. 92–93. ISBN 9780745639994.
- ^ Jewish Contributions to Civilization: An Estimate (book)
- ^ See, for example, Deborah Dash Moore, American Jewish Identity Politics, University of Michigan Press, 2008, p. 303; Ewa Morawska, Insecure Prosperity: Small-Town Jews in Industrial America, 1890-1940, Princeton University Press, 1999. p. 217; Peter Y. Medding, Values, interests and identity: Jews and politics in a changing world, Volume 11 of Studies in contemporary Jewry, Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 64; Ezra Mendelsohn, People of the city: Jews and the urban challenge, Volume 15 of Studies in contemporary Jewry, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 55; Louis Sandy Maisel, Ira N. Forman, Donald Altschiller, Charles Walker Bassett, Jews in American politics: essays, Rowman & Littlefield, 2004, p. 158; Seymour Martin Lipset, American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword, W. W. Norton & Company, 1997, p. 169.
- ^World Jewish Population, 2010. Sergio Della Pergola, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
- ^“Jewish Denominations”. ReligionFacts. http://www.religionfacts.com/judaism/denominations.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ “Reform Judaism”. ReligionFacts. http://www.religionfacts.com/judaism/denominations/reform.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^“What is Reform Judaism?”. Reformjudaism.org. http://reformjudaism.org/whatisrj.shtml. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^Encyclopædia Britannica. “Britannica Online Encyclopedia: Bet Din”. Britannica.com. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/63134/bet-din. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ ab“Judaism 101: Rabbis, Priests and Other Religious Functionaries”. Jewfaq.org. http://www.jewfaq.org/rabbi.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ Nahum Sarna 1969 Understanding Genesis. New York: Schocken
- ^Jacob Neusner, ”Defining Judaism”, in Jacob Neusner and Alan Avery-Peck, “The Blackwell companion to Judaism” (Blackwell, 2003), p.3. Books.google.com.au. 2003-02-23. ISBN 9781577180593. http://books.google.com/?id=asYoIwz9z2UC&pg=PA230&lpg=PA230&dq=The+Blackwell+Companion+to+Judaism++By+Jacob+Neusner,+Alan+Avery-Peck#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ Gen. 17:3-8 Genesis 17: 3-8: Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram ; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God;” Gen. 22:17-18 Genesis 22: 17-18: I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
- ^ Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me; Deut. 6:5 Deuteronomy 6:5 “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
- ^Lev. 19:18 Leviticus 19:18: “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord”
- ^ Kadushin, Max, 1972 The Rabbinic Mind. New York: Bloch Publishing Company. 194
- ^ Kadushin, Max, 1972 The Rabbinic Mind. New York: Bloch Publishing Company. 203
- ^ The Books of Melachim (Kings) and Book of Yeshaiahu (Isaiah) in the Tanakh contain a few of the many Biblical accounts of Israelite kings and segments of ancient Israel’s population worshiping other gods. For example: King Solomon’s “wives turned away his heart after other gods…[and he] did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD” (elaborated in 1 Melachim 11:4-10); King Ahab “went and served Baal, and worshiped him…And Ahab made the Asherah [a pagan place of worship]; and Ahab did yet more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, than all the kings of Israel that were before him” (1 Melachim 16:31-33); the prophet Isaiah condemns the people who “prepare a table for [the idol] Fortune, and that offer mingled wine in full measure unto [the idol] Destiny” (Yeshaiahu 65:11-12). Translation: JPS (Jewish Publication Society) edition of the Tanakh, from 1917, available at Mechon Mamre.
- ^The Jewish roots of Christological monotheism: papers from the St. Andrews conference on the historical origins of the worship of Jesus. Books.google.com. 1999. ISBN 9789004113619. http://books.google.com/?id=9ST5wISvTaQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Jewish+monotheism#v=onepage&q=&f=false. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ Steinberg, Milton 1947 Basic Judaism New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 36
- ^“Judaism 101: Movements of Judaism”. Jewfaq.org. http://www.jewfaq.org/movement.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ Rabbi S. of Montpelier, Yad Rama, Y. Alfacher, Rosh Amanah.
- ^ “Maimonides’ 13 Foundations of Judaism”. Mesora. http://www.mesora.org/13principles.html. “However if he rejects one of these fundamentals he leaves the nation and is a denier of the fundamentals and is called a heretic, a denier, etc.”
- ^Rabbi Mordechai Blumenfeld. “Maimonides, 13 Principles of Faith”. Aish HaTorah. http://www.aish.com/sp/ph/48923722.html. “According to the Rambam, their acceptance defines the minimum requirement necessary for one to relate to the Almighty and His Torah as a member of the People of Israel”
- ^ a bc Daniel Septimus. “The Thirteen Principles of Faith”. MyJewishLearning.com. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/beliefs/Theology/Thinkers_and_Thought/Doctrine_and_Dogma/The_Middle_Ages/Principles_of_Faith.shtml.
- ^Ronald L. Eisenberg (2004). The JPS guide to Jewish traditions. Jewish Publication Society. p. 509. ISBN 0827607601. http://books.google.com/?id=_qGHi_9K154C&pg=RA13-PA509&lpg=RA13-PA509&dq=Maimonides’+thirteen+principles+of+faith. “The concept of “dogma” is … not a basic idea in Judaism.”
- ^ Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought, Menachem Kellner.
- ^“The Thirteen Principles of the Jewish Faith”. Hebrew4Christians. http://www.hebrew4christians.net/Scripture/Shloshah-Asar_Ikkarim/shloshah-asar_ikkarim.html. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^“What Do Jews Believe?”. Mechon Mamre. http://www.mechon-mamre.org/jewfaq/beliefs.htm. “The closest that anyone has ever come to creating a widely accepted list of Jewish beliefs is Maimonides’ thirteen principles of faith.”
- ^ The JPS guide to Jewish traditions, page 510, “The one that eventually secured almost universal acceptance was the Thirteen Principles of faith”
- ^“Judaism 101: What Do Jews Believe?”. Jewfaq.org. http://www.jewfaq.org/beliefs.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^“Description of Judaism, Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance”. Religioustolerance.org. http://www.religioustolerance.org/jud_desc.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^“Judaism 101: The Patriarchs and the Origins of Judaism”. Jewfaq.org. http://www.jewfaq.org/origins.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^Rietti, Rabbi Jonathan. “How Do You Know the Exodus Really Happened?”. Archived from the original on 2004-09-18. http://web.archive.org/web/20040918062910/http://jewishinspiration.com/tape.php?tape_id=41. The word “emunah” has been translated incorrectly by the King James Bible as merely “belief” or “faith”, when in actuality, it means conviction, which is a much more emphatic knowledge of God based on experience.
- ^ “Jewish Sacred Texts”. ReligionFacts. http://www.religionfacts.com/judaism/texts.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ M. San 10:1. Translation available here .
- ^ “Judaism 101: A Glossary of Basic Jewish Terms and Concepts”. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations in America. April 12, 2006. http://www.ou.org/about/judaism/tanakh.htm.
- ^ The Prayer book: Weekday, Sabbath, and Festival translated and arranged by Ben Zion Bokser. New York: Hebrew Publishing Company. 9-10
- ^ Kadushin, Max 1972 The Rabbinic Mind New York: Bloch Publishing. 213
- ^ Neusner, Jacob 2003 Invitation to the Talmud Stipf and Son, Oregon xvii-xxii
- ^ Stern, David “Midrash and Indeterminacy” in Critical Inquiry, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Autumn, 1988), p. 151.
- ^ Neusner, Jacob 2003 Invitation to the Talmud Stipf and Son, Oregon xvii-vix; Steinsaltz, Adin 1976 The Essential Talmud New York: Basic Books. 3-9; Strack, Hermann 1980 Introduction to the Midrash and Talmud New York: Atheneum. 95; Stern, David “Midrash and Indeterminacy” in Critical Inquiry, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Autumn, 1988), pp. 132-161
- ^ Stern, David “Midrash and Indeterminacy” in Critical Inquiry, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Autumn, 1988), p. 147.
- ^ Cohen, Abner 1949 Everyman’s Talmud New York: E.P. Dutton & Co. xxiv; Strack, Hermann 1980 Introduction to the Midrash and Talmud New York: Atheneum. 95
- ^ Cohen, Abner 1949 Everyman’s Talmud New York: E.P. Dutton & Co. xxiv; Steinsaltz, Adin 1976 The Essential Talmud New Yorki: Basic Books. 222; Strack, Hermann 1980 Introduction to the Midrash and Talmud New York: Atheneum. 95
- ^ Strack, Hermann 1980 Introduction to the Midrash and Talmud New York: Atheneum. 95
- ^???? ???? ????? ???? ???? Jerusalem: 1974, pp. 38-39
- ^ Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, 2006 The Koren Sacks Siddur: Hebrew/English Prayer Book: The Authorized Daily Prayer Book of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth London: Harper Collins Publishers pp. 54-55
- ^ Nosson Scherman 2003 The Complete Artscroll Siddur Third Edition Brooklyn, N.Y.: Mesorah Publications pp. 49-53
- ^ Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, Nissen Mangel, 2003 Siddur Tehillat Hashem Kehot Publication Society. 24-25
- ^“Methods and Categories: Judaism and Gospel”. Bibleinterp.com. 2007-11-06. http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/mason3.shtml. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ AskOxford: Judaism[dead link]
- ^Oscar Sakrsaune, “In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity”InterVarsity Press, 2002, PP.39FF. Books.google.com.au. 2002. ISBN 9780830826704. http://books.google.com/?id=2q6qTb-A7GwC&pg=RA1-PA39&lpg=RA1-PA39&dq=Greek+origins+of+Iudaismos#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ The Oxford English Dictionary.
- ^Boyarin, Daniel (October 14, 1994). “Introduction”. A radical Jew: Paul and the politics of identity. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. pp. 13–38. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/0-520-08592-2 LCCN 93-36269|0-520-08592-2 LCCN 93-36269]]. http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docId=ft7w10086w&chunk.id=introduction&toc.depth=1&toc.id=introduction&brand=ucpress. Retrieved 2006-06-15. “Paul was motivated by a Hellenistic desire for the One, which among other things produced an ideal of a universal human essence, beyond difference and hierarchy. This universal humanity, however, was predicated (and still is) on the dualism of the flesh and the spirit, such that while the body is particular, marked through practice as Jew or Greek, and through anatomy as male or female, the spirit is universal. Paul did not, however, reject the body—as did, for instance, the gnostics—but rather promoted a system whereby the body had its place, albeit subordinated to the spirit. Paul’s anthropological dualism was matched by a hermeneutical dualism as well. Just as the human being is divided into a fleshy and a spiritual component, so also is language itself. It is composed of outer, material signs and inner, spiritual significations. When this is applied to the religious system that Paul inherited, the physical, fleshy signs of the Torah, of historical Judaism, are re-interpreted as symbols of that which Paul takes to be universal requirements and possibilities for humanity.”
- ^Boyarin, Daniel (1994). “Answering the Mail”. A radical Jew: Paul and the politics of identity. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-08592-2. http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docId=ft7w10086w&chunk.id=ch10&toc.depth=1&toc.id=ch10&brand=ucpress. “Jewishness disrupts the very categories of identity, because it is not national, not genealogical, not religious, but all of these, in dialectical tension with one another.”
- ^Weiner, Rebecca (2007). “Who is a Jew?”. Jewish Virtual Library. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/whojew1.html. Retrieved 2007-10-06.
- ^ “”Reform’s Position On…What is unacceptable practice?””. Faqs.org. 2010-06-29. http://www.faqs.org/faqs/judaism/FAQ/10-Reform/section-15.html. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ Heschel, Susannah (1998) Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 157. ISBN 0-226-32959-3
- ^“Law of Return 5710-1950”. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2007. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/1950_1959/Law%20of%20Return%205710-1950. Retrieved 2007-10-22.
- ^Jacob, Walter (1987). Contemporary American Reform Responsa. Mars, PA: Publishers Choice Book Mfg.. Books.google.com. 1987. ISBN 0881230030. http://books.google.com/books?id=6YbKqlxCZdsC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2011-09-28.
- ^Robert Gordis. “Torah MiSinai:Conservative Views”. A Modern Approach to a Living Halachah. Masorti World. Archived from the original on 2007-07-13. http://web.archive.org/web/20070713183805/http://masortiworld.org/faq/theology-+beliefs/torah-misinai.html. “The Torah is an emanation of God… This conception does not mean, for us, that the process of revalation consisted of dictation by God.”
- ^“Conservative Judaism”. Jewlicious. http://www.jewlicious.com/2005/06/conservative-judaism/. “We therefore understand this term as a metaphor to mean that the Torah is divine and that it reflects God’s will.”
- ^ “Tefillin”, “The Book of Jewish Knowledge”, Nathan Ausubel, Crown Publishers, NY, 1964, p.458)
- ^“Shabbat”. Judaism 101. April 12, 2006. http://www.jewfaq.org/shabbat.htm.
- ^ a bc de fg “Judaism 101: Kashrut”. Jewfaq.org. http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^Chaya Shuchat. “The Kosher Pig?”. http://www.meaningfullife.com/torah/parsha/vayikra/shemini/The_Kosher_Pig.php. “It is also the most quintessentially “treif” of animals, with its name being nearly synonymous with non-kosher … Although far from alone in the litany of non-kosher animals, the pig seems to stand in a class of its own.”
- ^“Tamar Levy, St. Louis, MO – Block Yeshiva High School, Grade 9”. OUkosher.org. http://www.oukosher.org/index.php/common/article/9660/. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah, (87:3)
- ^ Elliot Dorff, “On the Use of All Wines”PDF (2.19 MB), YD 123:1.1985, pp. 11–15.
- ^ “Kashrut Facts”. Religionfacts.com. http://www.religionfacts.com/judaism/practices/kosher.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^“Judaism 101: Kashrut: Jewish Dietary Laws”. Jewfaq.org. http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm#Blood. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ Vayyiqra (Leviticus) 11
- ^Rice, Yisrael (2007-06-10). “Judaism and the Art of Eating”. Chabad. http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/89567/jewish/Judaism-and-the-Art-of-Eating.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^Jewish life in WWII England: “there was a…special dispensation…that allowed Jews serving in the armed services to eat “non-kosher” when no Jewish food was available; that deviation from halacha was allowed ‘in order to save a human life including your own.'”
- ^ Y. Lichtenshtein M.A.. “Weekly Pamphlet #805”. Bar-Ilan University, Faculty of Jewish Studies, Rabbinical office. http://www.biu.ac.il/JH/Parasha/shmini/lict.html. “…certain prohibitions become allowed without a doubt because of lifethreatening circumstances, like for example eating non-kosher food”
- ^ a b Vayyiqra (Leviticus) 15.
- ^ Bamidbar (Numbers) 19.
- ^ Avi Kehat. “Torah tidbits”. Ou.org. http://www.ou.org/torah/tt/5767/shemot67/mikdash.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ a b“Judaism 101: Kosher Sex”. Jewfaq.org. http://www.jewfaq.org/sex.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^“Karaites”. Encyclopedia.com. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3458001508.html. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^Wasserfall, Rahel (1999). Women and water: menstruation in Jewish life and law. Brandeis University Press. ISBN 0874519608.
- ^ Yehezkal Kauffman, The Religion of Israel
- ^ Robert Alter The Art of Biblical Poetry
- ^ E. A. SpeiserGenesis (The Anchor Bible)
- ^ John Bright A History of Israel
- ^ Martin Noth The History of Israel
- ^ Ephraim Urbach The Sages
- ^ Shaye Cohen The beginnings of Jewishness
- ^ John Day Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan, page 68.
- ^Langmuir, Gavin (1993). History, religion, and antisemitism. University of California Press. ISBN 0520077288.
- ^“”The Maggid of Mezritch” Chapter 7 – Opposition Intensifies”. Nishmas.org. http://www.nishmas.org/maggid/chapt7.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^http://www.harrisinteractive.com/vault/Harris-Interactive-Poll-Research-While-Most-Americans-Believe-in-God-Only-36-pct-A-2003-10.pdf Religious service attendance at least once a month
- ^ This is My Beloved, This is My Friend: A Rabbinic Letter on Intimate relations, p. 27, Elliot N. Dorff
- ^ Hence for example such books as People of the Book: Thirty Scholars Reflect on Their Jewish Identity (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997) and People of the Book: Canon, Meaning, and Authority (Harvard University Press, 1997).
- ^“Jewish Rabbi admits Islam is the oldest religion”. YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA2N2Iz5ExM. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ Prager, D; Telushkin, J. Why the Jews?: The Reason for Antisemitism. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983. page 110-126.
- ^Jewish-Muslim Relations, Past & Present, Rabbi David Rosen
- ^“The Golden Age of Arab-Jewish Coexistence, The Golden Era”. The Peace FAQ. 1998-09-01. http://www.peacefaq.com/golden.html#whatis. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ Lewis (1999), p.131; (1984), pp.8,62
- ^ a b Lewis (1984), pp.10,20
- ^ Lewis (1987), p. 9, 27
- ^ Lewis (1999), p.131
- ^ Lewis (1984), pp. 17, 18, 52, 94, 95; Stillman (1979), pp. 27, 77
- ^ Lewis (1984), p. 28
- ^ Muslim Anti-Semitism by Bernard Lewis (Middle East Quarterly) June 1998
- ^ Feher, Shoshanah. Passing over Easter: Constructing the Boundaries of Messianic Judaism, Rowman Altamira, 1998, ISBN 9780761989530, p. 140. “This interest in developing a Jewish ethnic identity may not be surprising when we consider the 1960s, when Messianic Judaism arose.”
- ^Ariel, Yaakov (2006). “Judaism and Christianity Unite! The Unique Culture of Messianic Judaism”. In Gallagher, Eugene V.; Ashcraft, W. Michael. Jewish and Christian Traditions. Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America. 2. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 191. ISBN 978-0275987145. LCCN 2006022954. OCLC 315689134. http://books.google.com/books?id=ClaySHbUEogC&pg=RA1-PA191. “In the late 1960s and 1970s, both Jews and Christians in the United States were surprised to see the rise of a vigorous movement of Jewish Christians or Christian Jews.”
- ^Ariel, Yaakov (2006). “Judaism and Christianity Unite! The Unique Culture of Messianic Judaism”. In Gallagher, Eugene V.; Ashcraft, W. Michael. Jewish and Christian Traditions. Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America. 2. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 194. ISBN 978-0275987145. LCCN 2006022954. OCLC 315689134. http://books.google.com/books?id=oZiScvbS6-cC&pg=RA1-PA194&dq=When+the+term+resurfaced+in+Israel&hl=en&ei=ee9aTLToE8L-8AbUz_WyAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=When%20the%20term%20resurfaced%20in%20Israel&f=false. “The Rise of Messianic Judaism. In the first phase of the movement, during the early and mid-1970s, Jewish converts to Christianity established several congregations at their own initiative. Unlike the previous communities of Jewish Christians, Messianic Jewish congregations were largely independent of control from missionary societies or Christian denominations, even though they still wanted the acceptance of the larger evangelical community.”
- ^ a bMelton, J. Gordon. Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Infobase Publishing, 2005, ISBN 9780816054565, p. 373. “Messianic Judaism is a Protestant movement that emerged in the last half of the 20th century among believers who were ethnically Jewish but had adopted an Evangelical Christian faith… By the 1960s, a new effort to create a culturally Jewish Protestant Christianity emerged among individuals who began to call themselves Messianic Jews.”
- ^Ariel, Yaakov (2006). “Judaism and Christianity Unite! The Unique Culture of Messianic Judaism”. In Gallagher, Eugene V.; Ashcraft, W. Michael. Jewish and Christian Traditions. Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America. 2. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 191. ISBN 978-0275987145. LCCN 2006022954. OCLC 315689134. http://books.google.com/books?id=ClaySHbUEogC&pg=RA1-PA191&dq=While+Christianity+started+in+the+first+century+of+the+Common+Era&hl=en&ei=o-9aTNSsKoL58AbC1tWMAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=While%20Christianity%20started%20in%20the%20first%20century%20of%20the%20Common%20Era&f=false. “While Christianity started in the first century of the Common Era as a Jewish group, it quickly separated from Judaism and claimed to replace it; ever since the relationship between the two traditions has often been strained. But in the twentieth century groups of young Jews claimed that they had overcome the historical differences between the two religions and amalgamated Jewish identity and customs with the Christian faith.”
- ^Ariel, Yaakov (2006). “Judaism and Christianity Unite! The Unique Culture of Messianic Judaism”. In Gallagher, Eugene V.; Ashcraft, W. Michael. Jewish and Christian Traditions. Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America. 2. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 194–195. ISBN 978-0275987145. LCCN 2006022954. OCLC 315689134. http://books.google.com/books?id=oZiScvbS6-cC&pg=RA1-PA194&dq=When+the+term+resurfaced+in+Israel&hl=en&ei=ee9aTLToE8L-8AbUz_WyAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=When%20the%20term%20resurfaced%20in%20Israel&f=false. “When the term resurfaced in Israel in the 1940s and 1950s, it designated all Jews who accepted Christianity in its Protestant evangelical form. Missionaries such as the Southern Baptist Robert Lindsey noted that for Israeli Jews, the term nozrim, “Christians” in Hebrew, meant, almost automatically, an alien, hostile religion. Because such a term made it nearly impossible to convince Jews that Christianity was their religion, missionaries sought a more neutral term, one that did not arouse negative feelings. They chose Meshichyim, Messianic, to overcome the suspicion and antagonism of the term nozrim. Meshichyim as a term also had the advantage of emphasizing messianism as a major component of the Christian evangelical belief that the missions and communities of Jewish converts to Christianity propagated. It conveyed the sense of a new, innovative religion rather that[sic] an old, unfavorable one. The term was used in reference to those Jews who accepted Jesus as their personal savior, and did not apply to Jews accepting Roman Catholicism who in Israel have called themselves Hebrew Christians. The term Messianic Judaism was adopted in the United States in the early 1970s by those converts to evangelical Christianity who advocated a more assertive attitude on the part of converts towards their Jewish roots and heritage.”
- ^ Cohn-Sherbok, Dan (2000). “Messianic Jewish mission”. Messianic Judaism. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 179. ISBN 9780826454584. OCLC 42719687. http://books.google.com/books?id=5aOOlWdLpNwC&pg=PA169&dq=%22Messianic+Judaism%22+Christian+Jewish&hl=en&ei=IkthTJaKMMT48Aax_dDaCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Evangelism%20Jewish%20people%20heart%20movement&f=false. Retrieved August 10, 2010. “Evangelism of the Jewish people is thus at the heart of the Messianic movement.”
- ^ Ariel, Yaakov S. (2000). “Chapter 20: The Rise of Messianic Judaism” (Google Books). Evangelizing the chosen people: missions to the Jews in America, 1880–2000. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. p. 223. ISBN 9780807848807. OCLC 43708450. http://books.google.com/books?id=r3hCgIZB790C&printsec=frontcover&vq=advocated+offspring+rhetoric+Shalom#v=onepage&q=advocated%20offspring%20rhetoric%20Shalom&f=false. Retrieved August 10, 2010. “Messianic Judaism, although it advocated the idea of an independent movement of Jewish converts, remained the offspring of the missionary movement, and the ties would never be broken. The rise of Messianic Judaism was, in many ways, a logical outcome of the ideology and rhetoric of the movement to evangelize the Jews as well as its early sponsorship of various forms of Hebrew Christian expressions. The missions have promoted the message that Jews who had embraced Christianity were not betraying their heritage or even their faith but were actually fulfilling their true Jewish selves by becoming Christians. The missions also promoted the dispensationalist idea that the Church equals the body of the true Christian believers and that Christians were defined by their acceptance of Jesus as their personal Savior and not by their affiliations with specific denominations and particular liturgies or modes of prayer. Missions had been using Jewish symbols in their buildings and literature and called their centers by Hebrew names such as Emanuel or Beth Sar Shalom. Similarly, the missions’ publications featured Jewish religious symbols and practices such as the lighting of a menorah. Although missionaries to the Jews were alarmed when they first confronted the more assertive and independent movement of Messianic Judaism, it was they who were responsible for its conception and indirectly for its birth. The ideology, rhetoric, and symbols they had promoted for generations provided the background for the rise of a new movement that missionaries at first rejected as going too far but later accepted and even embraced.”
- ^“What are the Standards of the UMJC?”. FAQ. Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. June 2004. http://www.umjc.net/home-mainmenu-1/faqs-mainmenu-58/14-umjc-faq/19-what-are-the-standards-of-the-umjc. Retrieved 2000-07-03. “1. We believe that there is one G-d, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
2. We believe in the deity of the L-RD Yeshua, the Messiah, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.”
- ^Israel b. Betzalel (2009). “Trinitarianism”. JerusalemCouncil.org. http://jerusalemcouncil.org/articles/apologetics/trinitarianism/. Retrieved 2009-07-03. “This then is who Yeshua is: He is not just a man, and as a man, he is not from Adam, but from God. He is the Word of HaShem, the Memra, the Davar, the Righteous One, he didn’t become righteous, he is righteous. He is called God’s Son, he is the agent of HaShem called HaShem, and he is “HaShem” who we interact with and not die.”
- ^ “Do I need to be Circumcised?”. JerusalemCouncil.org. Feb 10, 2009. http://jerusalemcouncil.org/articles/faqs/do-i-need-to-be-circumcised/. Retrieved August 18, 2010. “To convert to the Jewish sect of HaDerech, accepting Yeshua as your King is the first act after one’s heart turns toward HaShem and His Torah – as one can not obey a commandment of God if they first do not love God, and we love God by following his Messiah. Without first accepting Yeshua as the King and thus obeying Him, then getting circumcised for the purpose of Jewish conversion only gains you access to the Jewish community. It means nothing when it comes to inheriting a place in the World to Come….Getting circumcised apart from desiring to be obedient to HaShem, and apart from accepting Yeshua as your King, is nothing but a surgical procedure, or worse, could lead to you believe that Jewish identity grants you a portion in the World to Come – at which point, what good is Messiah Yeshua, the Word of HaShem to you? He would have died for nothing!…As a convert from the nations, part of your obligation in keeping the Covenant, if you are a male, is to get circumcised in fulfillment of the commandment regarding circumcision. Circumcision is not an absolute requirement of being a Covenant member (that is, being made righteous before HaShem, and thus obtaining eternal life), but it is a requirement of obedience to God’s commandments, because circumcision is commanded for those who are of the seed of Abraham, whether born into the family, adopted, or converted….If after reading all of this you understand what circumcision is, and that is an act of obedience, rather than an act of gaining favor before HaShem for the purpose of receiving eternal life, then if you are male believer in Yeshua the Messiah for the redemption from death, the consequence of your sin of rebellion against Him, then pursue circumcision, and thus conversion into Judaism, as an act of obedience to the Messiah.”
- “Jewish Conversion – Giyur”. JerusalemCouncil.org. JerusalemCouncil.org. 2009. http://jerusalemcouncil.org/halacha/giyur/jewish-conversion/. Retrieved 2009-02-05. “We recognize the desire of people from the nations to convert to Judaism, through HaDerech (The Way)(Messianic Judaism), a sect of Judaism.”
- Simmons, Shraga. “Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus”. Aish HaTorah. http://www.aish.com/jw/s/48892792.html. Retrieved July 28, 2010. “Jews do not accept Jesus as the messiah because:
#Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies. #Jesus did not embody the personal qualifications of the Messiah. #Biblical verses “referring” to Jesus are mistranslations. #Jewish belief is based on national revelation.”
- Waxman, Jonathan (2006). “Messianic Jews Are Not Jews”. United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Archived from the original on June 28, 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20060628033541/http://www.uscj.org/Messianic_Jews_Not_J5480.html. Retrieved 2007-02-14. “Hebrew Christian, Jewish Christian, Jew for Jesus, Messianic Jew, Fulfilled Jew. The name may have changed over the course of time, but all of the names reflect the same phenomenon: one who asserts that s/he is straddling the theological fence between Christianity and Judaism, but in truth is firmly on the Christian side….we must affirm as did the Israeli Supreme Court in the well-known Brother Daniel case that to adopt Christianity is to have crossed the line out of the Jewish community.”
- “Missionary Impossible”. Hebrew Union College. August 9, 1999. http://www.huc.edu/news/mi.html. Retrieved 2007-02-14. “Missionary Impossible, an imaginative video and curriculum guide for teachers, educators, and rabbis to teach Jewish youth how to recognize and respond to “Jews-for-Jesus,” “Messianic Jews,” and other Christian proselytizers, has been produced by six rabbinic students at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Cincinnati School. The students created the video as a tool for teaching why Jewish college and high school youth and Jews in intermarried couples are primary targets of Christian missionaries.”
- “FAQ’s About Jewish Renewal”. Aleph.org. 2007. https://www.aleph.org/faq.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-20. “What is ALEPH’s position on so called messianic Judaism? ALEPH has a policy of respect for other spiritual traditions, but objects to deceptive practices and will not collaborate with denominations which actively target Jews for recruitment. Our position on so-called “Messianic Judaism” is that it is Christianity and its proponents would be more honest to call it that.”
- Marc Lee Raphael, “Judaism in America” (Columbia University Press, 2003)
- Avery-Peck, Alan, and Neusner, Jacob, (eds), “The Blackwell reader in Judaism” (Blackwell, 2001)
- Cohn-Sherbok, Dan, “Judaism: history, belief, and practice” (Routledge, 2003)
- Avery-Peck, Alan, and Neusner, Jacob, (eds), “The Blackwell Companion to Judaism (Blackwell, 2003)
- Boyarin, Daniel 1994 A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity Berkeley: University of California Press
- Ancient Judaism, Max Weber, Free Press, 1967, ISBN 0-02-934130-2
- Living Judaism: The Complete Guide to Jewish Belief, Tradition and Practice Wayne Dosick.
- Conservative Judaism: The New Century, Neil Gillman, Behrman House.
- American Jewish Orthodoxy in Historical Perspective Jeffrey S. Gurock, 1996, Ktav.
- Philosophies of Judaism Julius Guttmann, trans. by David Silverman, JPS. 1964
- Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts Ed. Barry W. Holtz, Summit Books
- A History of the Jews Paul Johnson, HarperCollins, 1988
- A People Divided: Judaism in Contemporary America, Jack Wertheimer. Brandeis Univ. Press, 1997.
- Encyclopaedia Judaica, Keter Publishing, CD-ROM edition, 1997
- The American Jewish Identity Survey, article by Egon Mayer, Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar; a sub-set of The American Religious Identity Survey, City University of New York Graduate Center. An article on this survey is printed in The New York Jewish Week, November 2, 2001.
- Lewis, Bernard. (1984). The Jews of Islam. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00807-8
- Lewis, Bernard. (1999). Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice. W. W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-31839-7
- Stillman, Norman (1979). The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America. ISBN 0-8276-0198-0
- Day, John. Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan. Chippenham: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000.
- Dever, William G.Did God Have a Wife?. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005.
- Walsh, J.P.M. The Mighty From Their Thrones. Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1987.
- Finkelstein, Israel (1996). Ethinicity and Origin of the Iron I Settlers in the Highlands of Canaan: Can the Real Israel Please Stand Up? The Biblical Archaeologist, 59(4).