What is Judism?
tradition teaches that a child born to a Jewish mother is a Jew without question. This means that a child born to a Jewish
father and gentile mother is not a Jew, even if this child goes to the synagogue and keeps the Jewish traditions.
English word Jew comes from the Hebrew word Jehudi meaning from the tribe of Judah. Judah was the son of Jacob ad gave his name to one of the twelve tribes of the
Israelites. By the tenth century BCE, the twelve tribes had been divided into two, the Northern called Israel and the Southern called Judah.
Who are the Jews?
The Jews are a race
of people. The Nazis reckoned that they were an inferior race and slaughtered 6 million between 1939 and 1945. Yet they are
not one race, they are on every continent of the world.
The Jews are a religious
community. While there are some that have very strong religious views, there are some that do not believe in God at all. These
are called secular Jews and are still proud of their Jewishness.
The Jews are a nation.
This cannot be really true as only 25% of the worlds Jews live in Israel.
Here just over 3 million share citizenship with Christians and Muslims. At 5 million plus, there are probably more in the
The Jews are a people. This is the most helpful and accurate since it includes all Jews both in Israel and the world who believe in one God of Abraham and
Moses and the ones who dont.
fall into two groups, Ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox Jews.
Jews refer to themselves as the Hasidiam meaning those who fear God There are two main principles of believing that.
The world is a dangerous place for those
who believe in God and so must be kept at arms length. Within the home, tv is either banned or rationed. Children are only
sent to special schools where boys and girls are educated differently. Boys follow a curriculum laid down over 2000 years
ago and the girls are shown how to be good mothers and homemakers.
Everything is based on the laws found
in the first five books of the Jewish scriptures the Torah. All these laws must be kept exactly with no variation.
Jews like to call themselves Traditional because they believe their religion has remained unchanged for centuries. They live by the teachings of the Tenakh the Jewish Bible, the Talmud and the Midrash. All of them are
said to be the word of God and so binding. Which means they believe
That one God created the world and keeps
it and brought the humans into being.
The God who called Abraham and Moses
and through them created Israel. The covenant
still applies today. God said that he would be their God if they kept the laws and remained faithful to him.
The God who gave Moses the law. No part
of the Torah can be changed. Its 613 instructions must be interpreted and obeyed. These cover everything including food.
the Shabbot is an important element in Orthodox Jews. The fact that work is banned on the Shabbot is kept unless life is at
risk. Only men and boys go to the synagogue on Friday evenings for prayer and the whole family on the morning of Shabbot.
However, the women and girls sit in the gallery and take no part in the service.
do not claim to go back to the beginning of Judaism. They trace theirs only to the 18th century and the Haskalah
The first Reform
synagogue was inHamburg in 1818 and was called the Hamburg
temple. Until then all Jews had looked forward to the coming of the Messiah. The early Reform Jews said this was a false hope.
in sweeping out old and outdated laws and rituals. This led to new ideas some of which seemed top radical. One group wanted
to abolish circumcision but few were prepared to do this. The new beliefs were
A new understanding of revelation the
way God makes himself known to his people. They speak of a gradual revelation
with God leading them into a new understanding of the Torah.
They allow important work to be done
on the holy day while still saying that it is a day of rest.
Refusal to accept the laws of the Torah
relating to purity. This includes the one that says you must not go near a woman who is menstruating. Orthodox still have
a Mikveh, a pool in which the woman immerses herself after a period before being allowed to have sexual relations. The Reform
Jews believe this has no place in modern times.
A change relating to marriage and divorce.
word means hatred of all things Jewish, it was coined until 1875, it is clear that such hatred has existed almost since the
beginning of Judaism itself. Greek and Latin authors laughed because they wouldnt worship the ancient Gods of Greece or Rome. One of the earliest examples was that the Israelites were driven
out of Egypt because they were lepers. Another was that they kept the Shabbot because they were lazy and scared of work.
Christian Church and the Jews
Most of the
early followers of Jesus were Jews and for a long time, Christianity remained part of Judaism. This changed when Jesus was
killed, whom they regarded as the son of God. Later the Jews were accused of killing Christian babies and using their blood
in unleavened bread used in Pesach. This charge, made in Norwich
in 1154 became known as the blood libel and the direct cause of thousands of Jews being put to death by Christian mobs in
the 12th and 13th centuries. Then in the time of the Black death, Jews were accused of poisoning wells
and bringing the deaths of the Christians. Of these claims were of course nonsense.
By the middle
ages, anti-Semitism was rife throughout Europe. The Crusaders slaughtered thousands of Jews
and by the 13th century, Jews had been expelled from most of western Europe. In the 16th century, because
the Jews wouldnt go along with him, Martin Luther wrote leaflets that incited Christians to burn down Jewish synagogues and
show them no mercy.
In the years
that followed, his wishes were put into practice. The Nazis used him to enforce their beliefs and tried to the total elimination
of Jews from the face of the earth.
who coined the phrase Holocaust but the Jews had two others names for it. Shoah Catastrophe and Hurban Desolation.
there are still people who deny the Holocaust ever took place.
The Facts 6
million Jews were murdered in the Concentration Camps in 6 years. At the end there were only 11 million Jews left and 5 million
of these lived in the States, 250,000 were living in Displaced camps and 1.5 million were without a home. 650,000 of these
went to live in the new Israel.
I million of
those who died were children.
28 camps at the height of the war and the most horrific of these were Auschwitz and Treblinka,
killing over 5,000 a day.
many, including the fact they held positions of power, they were successful in business, they thought they thought more of
their religion than their country. People found it easy to be jealous, envious and even afraid of people who were different
in any way. Added to this was the fact that Hitler wanted a pure Aryan race. Also killed along side the Jews were Gypsies
For the average
person in Britain and elsewhere they were
shocked at what had been going on. The Jews were keeping silent from shock. From then on it was decided that this could never
happen again and memorials were erected and the camps were opened so that people could see what happened. A memorial was built
at Yad Vesham in Jeruselem and it means a place and a name the names of different camps are on the floor. A line of trees
called the Avenue of the Righteous commemorates all the Gentiles that risked their lives to help Jewish men and women during