29 September 6 October | Issue 113
Due to lack of sufficient funding, to date, over 47,000 refugee families have not received the first tranche for repair works of their shelter. UNRWA has processed these cases and they have received approval through the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism; as soon as funding is secured, the Agency can distribute the urgently needed assistance to these families. Also, due to lack of funding thousands of refugee families were not yet able to start the reconstruction of their totally demolished home.
On 30 September the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, convened the Ad-hoc Liaison Committee meeting (AHLC) in New York. The AHLC is committed to the principle of trilateral dialogue between Israel, Palestine and donor governments. The meeting was opened by its Chair, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Brge Brende and involved Palestinian and Israeli government representativesand the two co-sponsors US Secretary of State John Kerry and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. Mr. Ban spoke about the challenging and volatile situation on the ground in Israel and Palestine and mentioned that bold and concrete actions are urgently required to stabilize the situation. He mentioned the importance of the acceleration of the reconstruction process in Gaza and called on international partners to disburse the funds pledged at the Cairo Conference. He also said that energy and water are desperately needed in Gaza. He furthermore stated that for Gaza to flourish, it will need to be able to trade with Israel, with the rest of Palestine and with the world. The Chairs summary reiterated the fact that economic development is conducive to peace and repeated the Secretary Generals call to step up reconstruction in Gaza, which depends on speedier donor aid, the resumption of Palestinian Authority-governance in Gaza and the further easing of restrictions on movements and goods by Israel, including the dual-use list.
The Palestinian flag was raised for the first time at United Nations headquarters in New York City on Wednesday, 30 September. This is a day of hope. May the raising of this flag give rise to the hope among the Palestinian people and the international community that Palestinian statehood is achievable, said United Nations Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon as he attended the ceremonial flag raising, along with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Now is the time to restore confidence by both Israelis and Palestinians for a peaceful settlement and, at last, the realization of two states for two peoples. I sincerely hope that a successful peace process will soon yield a day when we unfurl the Palestinian flag in its proper place among the family of nations as a sovereign Member State of the United Nations, added the Secretary General. Earlier in September, the UN General Assembly decided to raise the flags of non-member observer States at UN offices.
Operational environment: For the month of September 2015, the UNRWA Gaza Safety and Security Division (SSD) reported a decrease in security incidents in Gaza, from 201 incidents (79 related to armed conflict) in August, to 182 incidents (66 of them related to armed conflict) in the past month. Part of the decrease is assessed as being attributed to UNRWA averting the suspension of the Education Programme. A decrease in incidents directly affecting UNRWA was also recorded, with 34 incidents in September, compared to 61 incidents in August. This is the lowest number since before the 2014 conflict.
Furthermore, in September, there was a reduction in rocket fire, with 12 incidents reported, a decrease from 25 in the previous months reporting period (August). Yet whilst there was a reduction in armed conflict incidents in September, recent indicators highlight that this can change quickly, based on internal developments in Gaza or external factors in the West Bank and Jerusalem. On 30 September, Israel responded to rockets from Gaza with seven missiles into Gaza. This incident can be viewed as the most severe response since the end of the 2014 conflict.
On several occasions, incidents of political or inter-communal violence were reported. On 28 September, unknown persons reportedly abducted a man in Gaza City and released him later in a different area, severely beaten. The police arrested the perpetrators. On 29 September, a brawl erupted between supporters of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian politician Mohammad Dahlan in Deir El Balah, central Gaza; slight injuries were reported. On 2 October, a dispute between cousins in southern Gaza resulted in six injuries due to the use of edged weapons. Several persons were arrested.
On several occasions during the reporting week, Palestinians tried to illegally cross into Israel and were arrested by Israeli troops.
Repeated protests were held in front of UNRWA installations over the past week, with refugees demanding a housing unit in the Rafah Rehousing Project. Regular protests were also held in support of Al Aqsa Mosque or Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
For the month September, UNRWA SSD reported a total of 69 demonstrations in Gaza, with 20 being staged at UN installations.
Ibrahim Jobour (second from the right), one of the three co-founders of the UNRWA supported social enterprise Gaza Gateway, is participating in a panel discussion at the Gaza Expotech Technology Week, held from 5 to 8 October. 2015 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan
The Gaza Expotech Technology Week is taking place from 5 to 8 October under the slogan Palestine is smart. The purpose of the conference is to create awareness among youth of the capabilities of information technology (IT) to improve the daily life of different community groups, particularly women, persons with special needs and youth.
Ibrahim Jobour, one of the three co-founders of the UNRWA supported social enterprise Gaza Gateway, participated in the conference. In a panel presentation, he explained the role of the Gaza Gateway in promoting employment prospects for young IT graduates, through the outsourcing of business opportunities to private companies in Gaza.
One part of the Gaza Gateway mission is to create a freelancer platform that aims at helping to address the chronic unemployment in Gaza by opening the global market to IT specialists in Gaza. The platform tries to create international partnerships to mainstream freelance opportunities (online self-employment) to Gaza IT specialists, Ibrahim said.
Each year, approximately 1,000 Palestinians graduate with computer-related degrees in Gaza, yet according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), in 2014 75.1 per cent of them remained unemployed after graduation. The Gaza Gateway initiative tries to build a bridge from IT graduation to private sector employability, with a view to demonstrating that Gaza can deliver competitive commercial services. The aim is to outsource employment opportunities to the Gaza IT sector particularly the fresh graduates by using international market demand. Through this, the Gateway offers integrated post-graduate training for young IT professionals, grows and develops the Gaza IT market and its professional capacity, and ultimately blends business and social objectives, creating a sustainable socio-economic impact in the Gaza Strip.
The Gaza Gateway is an UNRWA initiative, which in quarter one of 2016 will become fully independent from the Agency. However, it will continue to provide services solicited by UNRWA to assist in addressing refugee needs.
During the reporting week, Israeli troops fired at Palestinians near the security fence and at Palestinian boats on an almost daily basis. In September, the UNRWA Gaza Safety and Security Division (SSD) reported a total of 21 shooting incidents along the land border with Israel and 18 incidents of naval fire.
On 29 September, militants fired one rocket from northern Gaza towards Israel; the rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome. On 30 September, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) fired seven missiles towards Gaza, allegedly targeting a Hamas training site and a Marine Police site in northern Gaza as well as a Hamas training site in Gaza city. On 30 September, militants fired a rocket from northern Gaza towards Israel; the rocket dropped short and landed inside Gaza. On 1 October, militants fired two rockets from central Gaza towards Israel; both dropped short and landed inside Gaza. On 2 and 3 October, militants fired one rocket towards Israel from southern Gaza; both rockets dropped short and landed inside Gaza.
On 4 October, militants fired one rocket from Gaza city and one from Khan Younis, southern Gaza, towards Israel; one rocket dropped short and the other one landed in an open area in Eshkol Regional Council in Israel.
On 5 October, militants fired four test rockets from Khan Younis towards the sea. On the same day the IAF fired one missile targeting a Hamas training site in Gaza city.
On 30 September, six Israeli bulldozers entered approximately 150 metres into Gaza areas and Israeli troops conducted a clearing and levelling operation, withdrawing on the same day. On 2 October, four bulldozers entered approximately 100 metres into central Gaza and conducted a clearing and levelling operation, withdrawing on the same day.
Thanks to generous donors, UNRWA has overcome its immediate and most serious financial crisis and was able to partially bridge the US$ 101 million deficit in its General Fund; to date, a shortfall of US$ 13.5 million remains.
In response to the unprecedented needs faced by Palestine refugees, and the continuous financial shortages and unstable financial footing of the Agency, UNRWA is currently exploring options for additional funding, but is also implementing a series of austerity measures aimed at decreasing costs where possible while preserving essential services to refugees.
US$ 227 million has been pledged in support of UNRWAs emergency shelter programme, for which an estimated US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 493 million.
As presented in UNRWAs oPt Emergency Appeal, the Agency is seeking US$ 366.6 million for its 2015 emergency operations in Gaza, including US$ 127 million for emergency shelter, repair and collective centre management, US$ 105.6 million for emergency food assistance, and US$ 68.6 million for emergency cash-for-work.Read more in the 2015 oPt Emergency Appeal.
Gaza Situation Report 113 | UNRWA
The religion of the Jewish people (II Macc. ii. 21, viii. 1, xiv. 38; Gal. i. 13 = , Esth. R. iii. 7; comp. , Esth. viii. 17); their system of beliefs and doctrines, rites and customs, as presented in their sacred literature and developed under the influence of the various civilizations with which they have come in contact, widening out into a world-religion affecting many nations and creeds. In reality the name “Judaism” should refer only to the religion of the people of Judea, that is, of the tribe of Judah, the name “Yehudi” (hence “Judean,” “Jew”) originally designating a member of that tribe. In the course of time, however, the term “Judaism” was applied to the entire Jewish history.
A clear and concise definition of Judaism is very difficult to give, for the reason that it is not a religion pure and simple based upon accepted creeds, like Christianity or Buddhism, but is one inseparably connected with the Jewish nation as the depository and guardian of the truths held by it for mankind. Furthermore, it is as a law, or system of laws, given by God on Sinai that Judaism is chiefly represented in Scripture and tradition, the religious doctrines being only implicitly or occasionally stated; wherefore it is frequently asserted that Judaism is a theocracy (Josephus, “Contra Ap.” ii. 16), a religious legislation for the Jewish people, but not a religion. The fact is that Judaism is too large and comprehensive a force in history to be defined by a single term or encompassed from one point of view.
Extending over thirty-five centuries of history and over well-nigh all the lands of the civilized globe, Judaism could not always retain the same form and character. Judaism in its formative period, that is, in the patriarchal and prophetic times, differed from exilic and post-exilic Judaism; and rabbinic or pharisaic Judaism again presents a phase quite different from Mosaic Judaism, to which the Sadducees, and afterward to some extent the Karaites, persistently clung. Similarly Judaism in the Diaspora, or Hellenistic Judaism, showed great divergences from that of Palestine. So, too, the mysticism of the Orient produced in Germany and France a different form of Judaism from that inculcated by the Arabic philosophy cultivated by the Jews of Spain. Again, many Jews of modern times more or less systematically discard that form of Judaism fixed by the codes and the casuistry of the Middle Ages, and incline toward a Judaism which they hold more in harmony with the requirements of an age of broader culture and larger aims. Far from having become 1900 years ago a stagnant or dried-up religion, as Christian theology declares, Judaism has ever remained “a river of God full of living waters,” which, while running within the river-bed of a single nation, has continued to feed anew the great streams of human civilization. In this light Judaism is presented in the following columns as a historic power varying in various epochs. It is first necessary to state what are the main principles of Judaism in contradistinction to all other religions.
However tribal or exclusive the idea of the God of Israel may have been originally, Judaism boldly assumes that its God was the God of man from the very beginning; the Creator of heaven and earth, and the Ruler of the world from eternity to eternity, who brought the Flood upon a wicked generation of men, and who established the earth in righteousness and justice (Gen. i.-x.). In the light of this presentation of facts, idolatry or the worship of other gods is but a rebellious breaking away from the Most High, the King of the Nations, the universal God, besides whom there is no other (Deut. v. 39; Jer. x. 7), and to whom alone all knees must bend in humble adoration (Isa. xlv. 23, lxvi. 23). Judaism, accordingly, has for its sole object the restoration of the pure worship of God throughout the earth (Zech. xiv. 9); the Sinaitic covenant, which rendered Israel “a kingdom of priests among the nations”itself only a renewal of the covenant made with Abraham and his descendants for all timehaving been concluded for the sole purpose of giving back to mankind its God of old, the God of the Noachian covenant, which included all men (Gen. ix. 17, xviii. 18-19; Ex. xix. 3-6; Isa. xlix. 6-8). Surely there is nothing clannish in the God of the Prophets and the Psalmist, who judges all men and nations alike with justice and righteousness (Amos i.-ii., ix. 7; Jer. xxvi.; Ezek. xl.; Ps. xcvi. 13, xcviii. 9; and elsewhere). Judaism’s God has through the prophetic, world-wide view become the God of history, and through the Psalms and the prayers of the asidim the God of the human heart, “the Father,” and the “Lover of souls” (Isa. lxiii. 16; see Wisdom, xi. 26, and Abba). Far from departing from this standpoint, Judaism in the time of the Synagogue took the decisive forward step of declaring the Holy Name (see Adonai) ineffable, so as to allow the God of Israel to be known only as “the Lord God.” Henceforth without any definite name He stood forth as the world’s God without peer.
Judaism at all times protested most emphatically against any infringement of its pure monotheistic doctrine, whether by the dualism of the Gnostic (Sanh. 38a; Gen. R. i.; Eccl. R. iv. 8) or by the Trinitarianism of the Church (see Jew. Encyc. iv. 54, s.v. Christianity), never allowing such attributes as justice and pardoning love to divide the Godhead into different powers or personalities. Indeed, every contact with other systems of thought or belief served only to put Judaism on its guard lest the spirituality of God be marred by ascribing to Him human forms. Yet, far from being too transcendental, too remote from mortal man in his need (as Weber, “Jdische Theologie,” 1897, pp. 157 et seq., asserts), Judaism’s God “is ever near, nearer than any other help or sympathy can be” (Yer. Ber. ix. 13a); “His very greatness consists in His condescension to man” (Meg. 31a; Lev. R. i., with reference to Ps. cxiii. 6). In fact, “God appears to each according to his capacity or temporary need” (Mek., Beshalla, Shirah, iv.; see Schechter in “J. Q. R.” vi. 417-427).
Judaism affirms that God is a spirit, above all limitations of form, the Absolute Being who calls Himself “I am who I am” (“Eheyeh asher Eheyeh”; Ex. iii. 14), the Source of all existence, above all things, independent of all conditions, and without any physical quality. Far, however, from excluding less philosophical views of the Deity, so ardent a Jew as R. Abraham b. David of Posquires contends against Maimonides that he who holds human conceptions of God, such as the cabalists did, is no less a Jew than he who insists on His absolute incorporeality (Haggahot to “Yad,” Teshubah, iii. 7). Indeed, the daily prayers of the Jew, from “Adon ‘Olam” to the “Shir ha-Yiud” of Samuel b. Kalonymus, show a wide range of thought, here of rationalistic and there of mystic character, combining in a singular manner transcendentalism and immanence or pantheism as in no other faith. While the ideas of the various ages and civilizations have thus ever expanded and deepened the conception of God, the principle of unity was ever jealously guarded lest “His glory be given to another” (Isa. xlii. 8; see God).
But the most characteristic and essential distinction of Judaism from every other system of belief and thought consists in its ethical monotheism. Not sacrifice, but righteous conduct, is what God desires (Isa. i. 12-17; Amos v. 21-24; Hos. vi. 6; Micah vi. 6-8; Jer. vii. 22; Ps. xl. 7 [A. V. 6], 1. 8-13); the whole sacrificial cult being intended only for the spiritual need of man (Pesi. vi. 57, 62; Num. R. xxi.; Lev. R. ii.). Religion’s only object is to induce man to walk in the ways of God and to do right (Gen. xix. 19; Deut. x. 12), God Himself being the God of righteousness and holiness, the ideal of moral perfection (Ex. xx. 5-6, xxxiv. 7; Lev. xix. 1; Deut. vii. 9-10). While the pagan gods were “products of fear,” it was precisely “the fear of God” which produced in Judaism the conscience, the knowledge of a God within, thus preventing man from sin (Gen. xlii. 18; Ex. xx. 20; Deut. x. 12; Job i. 1). Consequently thehistory of mankind from the beginning appeared as the work of a moral Ruler of the world, of “the King of the nations of whom all are in awe” (Jer. x. 7; Ps. lxv. 13, xcvi. 10; Dan. ii. 21), in whom power and justice, love and truth are united (Ps. lxxxix. 15 [A. V. 14]). As He spoke to Israel, “Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. xix. 1, Hebr.), so “He said unto man, Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job xxviii. 28; comp. Micah vi. 8; Isa. xxxiii. 15; Ps. xv., xxiv. 4: “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”). Quite characteristic of rabbinical Judaism is the fact that the names used for God are chiefly taken from His ethical attributes: “The world’s Righteous One” (“Zaddio shel ‘olam,” Gen. R. xlix.; Yoma 37a); “The Merciful One” (“Ramana”); and most frequently “The Holy One, blessed be He!” (“ha-adosh baruk hu”). Before Cain killed his brother, he said: “There is no divine judgment and no Judge” (Targ. Yer. to Gen. iv. 8). “The first question put to man at the Last Judgment will be: ‘Didst thou deal honestly with thy fellow man?'” (Shab. 31a; see God).
At any rate, Judaism, while insisting upon the unity of God and His government of the world, recognizes alongside of God no principle of evil in creation. God has no counterpart either in the powers of darkness, as the deities of Egypt and Babylon had, or in the power of evil, such as Ahriman in the Zoroastrian religion is, whose demoniacal nature was transferred by the Gnostic and Christian systems to Satan. In the Jewish Scriptures Satan has his place among the angels of heaven, and is bound to execute the will of God, his master (Job i. 7); and though sin and death are occasionally ascribed to him (see Satan), he can seduce and harm only as far as God permits him, and in the end must work for good (B. B. 16a). “God is the Creator of light and darkness, the Maker of peace and of evil” (Isa. xlv. 7). Everything He made was found by Him to be very good (Gen. i. 31); “also death,” says R. Mer (Gen. R. ix.). “What the Merciful does is for the good” (Ber. 60b). Whatever evil befalls man has disciplinary value: it is intended for his higher welfare (Deut. viii. 5; Ps. xciv. 12; Ta’an. 21a: “Gam zu leobah”).
Because the Lord saw that the world could not stand to be measured by strict justice, He mingled the quality of mercy with that of justice and created the world with both (Gen. R. xii.). In striking contrast to the pessimistic doctrine that the world is the product of mere chance and full of evil, the Midrash boldly states that the world was (or is) a process of selection and evolution: “God created worlds after worlds until He said, ‘This at last pleases Me'” (Gen. R. ix.; see Optimism).
The fundamental principle of Judaism (see Maimonides, “Moreh,” iii. 17) is that man is free; that is to say, the choice between good and evil has been left to man as a participant of God’s spirit. “Sin lieth at the door, and unto thee shall be its desire; but thou shalt rule over it” (Gen. iv. 7, Hebr.) says God to Cain; and herein is laid down for all time the law of man’s freedom of will. Accordingly Moses says in the name of God: “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; . . . therefore choose life” (Deut. xxx. 15, 19); and Ben Sira, commenting upon this, says: “God hath made man from the beginning and left him in the hand of his counsel. . . . He hath set fire and water before thee; thou mayest stretch forth thy hand unto whichsoever thou wilt. Before man is life and death; and whichsoever he liketh, it shall be given him” (Ecclus. [Sirach] xv. 14-17). Similarly R. Akiba declares: “All is foreseen; but the mastery [that is, free will] is granted” (Ab. iii. 15). Another rabbinical saying is, “Everything is determined by Heaven save the fear of Heaven” (Ber. 33b). Freedom of will constitutes man’s responsibility; and his heavenly prerogative would be impaired were there an inheritance of sin. “Every man shall be put to death for his own sin,” says the Law (Deut. xxiv. 16). It is the principle for which the prophet Ezekiel fought (Ezek. xviii. 20). Accordingly the Rabbis say: “The wicked are under the power of their hearts; the righteous have their hearts in their power” (Gen. R. lxvii.). Also, “Man is constantly led along the way he wishes to go. If he wishes to pollute himself by sin, the gates of sin will be opened for him; if he strives for purity, the gates of purity will be opened to him” (Yoma 38a; Mak. 10b; Nid. 30b). Regarding the difficulty of reconciling free will with divine omniscience, see Free Will. Notwithstanding man’s propensity to sin, caused by the Yeer Ha-Ra’, “the leaven in the lump” (Ber. 17a; comp. I Cor. v. 7), and the universal experience of sinfulness (Eccl. vii. 20; Ex. R. xxxi.), rabbinical Judaism denies that sin is inherited from parents, pointing to Abraham the son of Terah, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, and others as instances to the contrary (Tan., uat, ed. Buber, p. 4, with reference to Job xiv. 4), and insists on the possibility of sinlessness as manifested by various saints (Shab. 55b; Yoma 22b; Eccl. R. i. 8, iii. 2).
Sin, according to Jewish teaching, is simply erring from the right path, owing chiefly to the weakness of human nature (Num. xv. 26; I Kings viii. 46; Ps. xix. 13, lxxviii. 39, ciii. 14; Job iv. 17-21); only in the really wicked it is insolent rebellion against God and His order (“pesha'” or “resha'”; Isa. lvii. 20; Ps. i. 4-6, xxxvi. 2; and elsewhere). And there is no sin too great to be atoned for by repentance and reparation (Ezek. xviii. 23; Yer. Peah i. 16b; id. 40b). The whole conception, then, of mankind’s depravity by sin has no place in Judaism, which holds forth the reintegrating power of repentance to Gentiles and Jews, to the ordinary and the most corrupt sinners alike (Pes. 119a; R. H. 17b; Sanh. 103a, 108a; Yoma 86a, b). “Before God created the world, He created repentance for man as one of his prerequisites” (Pes. 54a; Gen. R. xxi., xxii.; see Repentance; Sin).
Israel, then, has been chosen, like Israel’s ancestor Abraham, the descendant of Shem (Gen. ix. 26-27), to be a blessing to all nations on earth (ib. xii. 3, xix. 18); and the name by which the Lord calls him at the Exodus (Ex. iv. 22), “My first-born son,” betokens in the language of the time his mission to be that of the priest and teacher in the house-hold of the nations, leading the rest by his precept and example to the worship of the Only One (ib. xix. 6; Isa. lxi. 6). “A people dwelling in solitude and not counted among the nations” (Num. xxiii. 9; Deut. vii. 7), but watched over by divine providence with especial care (Deut. xxvii. 18-19, xxxii. 8-12), the standard-bearer of incomparable laws of wisdom and righteousness in the sight of the nations (ib. iv. 5-8), Israel has been created to declare God’s praise to the world, to be “His witnesses” (LXX., “martyrs”) testifying to His unity, “the light of the nations,” and the “covenant of the people to establish the earth” (Isa. xliii. 10, 21; xlix. 6-8). “To Israel’s house of God the nations shall flock to be taught of His ways and to learn to walk in His paths.” This is to bring humanity back to its normal condition, peace and bliss on earth, because righteousness will then prevail everywhere and the whole “earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord” (Isa. ii. 2-4, ix. 6, xi. 4-9, lxv. 25; Micah iv. 1-4). Israel, who when redeemed from Egypt proclaimed God as King (Ex. xv. 19; Lev. R. ii. 4), received the truth of Sinai as a trust; he is never to rest until his God shall become king of the whole earth, until all men and nations shall bend the knee before Him (Zech. xiv. 9; Isa. xl. 5, xlv. 13, xlix. 19; Ps. xxii. 29 [A. V. 28], xlvii. 9 , lxxvii. 5 , xcvi.-xcix.). “Israel, who proclaims God’s unity, is proclaimed by God as His unique people” (Mek., Beshalla, Shirah, 3). Israel, as the people of the saints of the Most High, is to establish the kingdom of God to last forever (Dan. ii. 44, vii.). But as teacher and guardian of mankind’s purest faith and loftiest hope, he is dealt with more severely by God for every transgression (Jer. ii. 21; Ezek. xx. 33-41; Amos iii. 2). Nay more, as the servant of God he has been chosen for continual martyrdom in the cause of truth and justice; he, therefore, is the “man of sorrows” whose affliction is to bring healing to the world and to lead many to righteousness (Isa. lii-liii.; see Servant of God).
Whether the expectation is that the universal kingdom of God on earth will be brought about by an ideal king from the house of David, the Messiah, as Isaiah and his followers depict the future of Israel (Isa. xi. 1 et seq.; Ezek. xxxiii. 24), or by the dispersed people of Israel itself, as the seer of the Exile (Isa. lvi.-lxvi.) indicates (see Messiah); whether or not the great day when all flesh shall worship the Lord will be preceded by a day of divine judgment when all the wicked “shall be stubble” (Mal. iii. 19, 21 [A. V. iv. 3]; see Day of the Lord; Eschatology; Gog and Magog), Judaism by its idea of a divine kingdom of truth and righteousness to be built on earth gave to mankind a hope and to history a goal for which to live and strive through the centuries. Other nations beheld in the world’s process a continual decline from a golden age of happiness to an iron age of toil, until in a great catastrophe of conflagration and ruin the end of all things, of men and gods, is to be reached: Judaism points forward to a state of human perfection and bliss to be brought about by the complete unfolding of the divine in man or the revelation of God’s full glory as the goal of history. And herein lies its great distinction also from Christianity. Judaism’s scope lies not in the world beyond, the world of the spirit, of which man on earth can have no conception. Both the hope of resurrection and that of immortality, in some form or other familiar and indispensable to all tribes and creeds, seem evidently to have come to the Jews from withoutthe one from Persia or Babylonia, the other from Greece. Judaism itself rests on neither (see Eschatology; Immortality; Resurrection). Its sole aim and purpose is to render the world that now is a divine kingdom of truth and righteousness; and this gives it its eminently rational, ethical, and practical character.
Judaism has a twofold character: (1) universal, and (2) particular or national. The one pertains to its religious truths destined for the world; the other, to its national obligationsconnected with its priestly mission. Upon the former more stress is laid by the Prophets and by most of the sacred poets, by the Alexandrian propagandists and the Palestinian haggadists, as well as by the medieval philosophers and the modern Reform school; whereas the Mosaic law, the Halakah, and the Talmudic and cabalistic schools dwell almost exclusively upon the latter.
Judaism is, above all, the law of justice. Whereas in heathendom, except in the case of some exalted philosopher like Plato, might was deified, and the oppressed, the slave, and the stranger found no protection in religion, the declaration is everywhere made throughout Scripture that injustice committed by man against man provokes the wrath of the world’s Ruler and Judge (Ex. xxi. 22-23; Gen. vi. 13, xviii. 20; Deut. xxvii. 15-26; Amos i. 3-ii. 8; and elsewhere), and that righteousness and compassionate love are demanded for the oppressed, the slave, the poor, the fatherless and homeless, the stranger, and for the criminal as having a claim on the sympathy of his fellow men; even for the dumb creature compassion is required (Ex. xxii. 20-26, xxiii. 5-6; Deut. xxii. 6; xxiv. 6, 10-xxv. 4; Job xxxi.). This is the “Torah” of which Isaiah speaks (Isa. i. 10), the “commandment” put by God upon every human heart (Deut. xxx. 11-14). And this spirit of justice permeates the Talmudic literature also. “For righteousness is one of the pillars of the world” (Ab. i. 18). “Where right is suppressed war comes upon the world” (ib. iv. 8). “The execution of justice is one of the Noachian laws of humanity” (Sanh. 56b). “Justice is demanded alike for the Gentile and the Jew” (Mak. 24a; B. . 113a; and other quotations in Baya b. Joseph’s “ad ha-Kema,” ch. “Gezelah”). To have due regard for the honor of all fellow creatures (“kebod aberiyyot”; Tos., B. . vii. 10) is one of the leading principles of rabbinic law (Shab. 94b).
Judaism furthermore is the law of purity. Heathenism by its orgiastic cults of Baal-peor, Astarte, and the like, fostered impurity and incest (Lev. xviii. 3, 24-30; Num. xxv. 1-9; Deut. iv. 3). The Torah warns against fornication, and teaches purity of heart and of action (Num. xv. 39; Deut. xxiii. 18-19, xxiv. 15; Prov. vii. 5-27; Job xxxi. 1), because God is too pure to tolerate unchastity in man or in woman (see Holiness; Purity). Judaism resents every act of lewdness as “nebalah” = “villainy” (Gen. xxxiv. 7, 31; Deut. xxii. 21; Judges xix. 24; II Sam. xiii. 12; see Folly), and most severely condemns lascivious talk (Isa. ix. 16; Shab. 33a).
Judaism is, moreover, the law of truth. Its God is the God of truth (Jer. x. 10). “The seal of the Holy One is truth” (Gen. R. lxxxi.; see Alpha and Omega). Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, Job, and ohelet wrestled with God in doubt until He revealed Himself to them in a higher form (Gen. xviii. 25; Ex. xxxii.-xxxiii.; Jer. xii. 1; Job xxxi. 35). And as the Prophets had perfect faith in God as the God of truth and therefore shrank from hypocrisy (Yer. Ber. vii. 11c), so did all the Jewish philosophers show perfect confidence in truth while boldly expressing their lofty views concerning the Deity and divesting God of every trace of Anthropomorphism and Anthropopathism and of every attribute infringing upon the spirituality and unity of God. It was, says the Talmud, the last will of Canaan that his children should not speak the truth and should love lasciviousness (Pes. 113b). “The Torah of Moses is truth” and “desires men to speak the truth and assent to the truth, even as God Himself assents to the truth when honestly spoken”; for “Upon truth rests the world” (B. B. 74a; Ps. xv. 2; Ab. R. N. xxxvii.; Ab. i. 18). This honest search for truth made Judaism, indeed, the world’s great power for truth as well as for righteousness.
Judaism promotes and fosters education and culture. In contrast to such systems of faith as foster ignorance of the masses, it renders it a duty for the father to instruct his children and for the community to provide for the general instruction of old and young (see Education; Philosophy). It sanctifies labor, and makes the teaching of a trade whereby a livelihood may be earned a duty incumbent upon the father or upon the municipal authority (see Labor, Holiness of). It makes the systematic care of the poor a duty of the community with a view to the dignity and self-help of the recipient (See Charity). It denounces celibacy as unlawful, and enjoins each man to build a home and to contribute to the welfare of human society (see Marriage). The high priest in Israel was not allowed to officiate on the Day of Atonement unless he had a wifeliving with him (Yoma i. 1; comp. Ta’an. ii. 2). It enjoins love of country and loyalty to the government, no matter how unfriendly it be to the Jew (Jer. xxix. 7; Ab. iii. 2; Ket. 111a; see Patriotism).
Judaism is a religion of joy, and it desires that man should rejoice before God and gratefully enjoy all His gifts, at the same time filling other hearts with joy and thanksgiving. Especially are its Sabbath and festal days seasons of joy with no austerity about them. Judaism discourages asceticism (see Asceticism; Joy).
Judaism is a religion of hope. It teaches men to recognize in pain and sorrow dispensations of divine goodness. It is optimistic, because it does not defer hope merely to the world to come, but waits for the manifestation of God’s plans of wisdom and goodness in the moral and spiritual advancement of man. While the present world is, in comparison to the future one, declared to be “like the vestibule wherein one prepares for the palace,” it is nevertheless stated that “one hour devoted to repentance and good works in this world is more valuable than the entire life of the world to come” (Ab. iv. 16-17); for “to-day is the time for working out one’s destiny, while to-morrow is the time for receiving compensation” (‘Er. 22a).
As its highest aim and motive Judaism regards the love of God. Twice every day the Jew recites the Shema’, which contains the words: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deut. vi. 5); this verse is understood to enjoin him to willingly surrender life and fortune whenever the cause of God demands it, while it at the same time urges him to make God beloved by all his fellow creatures through deeds of kindness, as Abraham did (Sifre, Deut. 32). This love of God implies the most unselfish devotion and the purest motive of action; that is, acting not from fear, but rather for God’s sake alone (Sifre, Deut. 32, 48; Ab. ii. 12); doing good not in view of any reward in the world to come (Ab. i. 3), but for its own sake (see Schreiner, “Die Jngsten Urtheile ber das Judenthum,” 1902, pp. 145-151); and it also implies the love of man (Deut. x. 12-19; see Love).
Judaism, finally, is a system of sanctification of life. It teaches that the whole of life is holy, because God is manifested in it: “Be holy, for the Lord your God is holy” (Lev. xix. 1, Hebr.). Even in the functions of animal life the presence of a holy God should be realized (Deut. xxiii. 15); and when the perfect state of humanity shall have been attained, every road will be a holy road free from impurity (Isa. xxxv. 8), and “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holy unto the Lord” (Zech. xiv. 20, R. V.).
The Sinaitic covenant which rendered Israel “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. xix. 6) became, the Rabbis say, “a source of hatred to the nations” (Shab. 89a: a play upon words, “Sinai””Sin’ah”), because it separated it from them by statutes and ordinances such as the dietary and the Levitical purity laws and others intended to prevent idolatrous practises. Like the priest in the Temple, whose garments and mode of life distinguished him from the rest in order to invest him with the spirit of greater sanctity and purity (I Chron. xxiii. 13), so Israel was for all time to be impressed with its priestly mission by all those ceremonies which form so prominent a feature in its religious life (see Ceremonies; Circumcision; Commandments; Dietary Laws). Particularly the Mosaic and, later on, the Pharisaic laws had for their object the separation of the Jewish people from all those influences prevalent in heathendom which led to idolatry and impurity; wherefore not only intermarriage, but also participation in any meal or other festive gathering which could possibly be connected with idol-worship was prohibited (see Worship, Idol-; Intermarriage; Jubilees, Book of.) This persistent avoidance of association with the Gentiles on the part of the Pharisees, which in the time of the Maccabees was termed = “keepingapart from the surrounding nations” (comp. II Macc. xiv. 38), became the chief cause of the accusation of a “hatred of mankind” which was brought against the Jews by the Greeks and Romans, and which has ever since been reiterated by the anti-Semites (see Schrer, “Gesch.” iii. 3, 416).
In reality these very laws of seclusion fitted the Jew for his herculean task of battling for the truth against a world of falsehood, and enabled him to resist the temptations and to brave the persecutions of the nations and the ages. They imbued him with a spirit of loyalty unparalleled in human history; they inculcated in him the principle of abstinence, enabling him to endure privation and torture; and filled him with that noble pride which alone upheld him amidst the taunts and sneers of high and low. They brought out those traits of manhood which characterized Abraham, who, according to the Rabbis, was called ‘”Ibri ” (Hebrew) because his maxim was: “Let all the world stand on the one side [“‘eber ead”]I side with God and shall win in the end” (Gen. R. xlvi.). But these laws also fostered a conception of the sanctity of life unknown to other creeds or races. By investing the commonest act and event with religious obligations, they made the whole of life earnest and holy with duty. Instead of being “a yoke of servitude,” as Schrer and others have it, they “filled the home and the festal seasons with higher joy” (see Schechter and Abrahams in “J. Q. R.” iii. 762 et seq., xi. 626 et seq.).
Notwithstanding its unmitigated severity against heathenism with its folly and vice, and against every mode of compromise therewith, Judaism does not, like other creeds, consign the non-believer to eternal doom. It judges men not by their creed, but by their deeds, demanding righteous actions and pure motives, since “fear of God” signifies fear of Him who looketh into the heart (Sifra, Aare Mot, iii. 2). It declares through R. Joshua b. Hananiah, whose opinion is generally accepted, that “the righteous of all nations have a share in the world to come”; the Shammaite R. Eliezer in consigning all heathen to Gehenna bases his argument on the Scriptural verse Ps. ix. 18 (A. V. 17), into which he reads, “The wicked are turned to Sheol because all heathen forget God”not as R. Joshua does, “all those heathen that forget God” (Sanh. 105a). It is the moral depravity ascribed to the heathen, owing to his unchaste and violent habits, which is the cause of all the harsh haggadic expressionssuch as “the people that resemble the ass” (Ket. 111a)and halakic injunctions found in the Talmud against the heathen (Gentile or ‘Akkum; see Jubilees, Book of). The latter is always under grave suspicion (see ‘Ab. Zarah ii. 1; Yeb. 98a), yet, no sooner does he solemnly discard idolatry than his association is invited and he has a claim on protection (Gi. 45a).
On the contrary, Judaism waits for “the righteous nation that keeps the faith” (Isa. xxvi. 2), and opens wide “its gates that the righteous from among the heathen world may enter” (Ps. cxviii. 20; Sifra, Aare Mot, xiii.), calling the Gentiles that serve God in righteousness “priests of the Lord” (“Otiot de-R. Akiba,” letter “Zayin”). It declares that the Holy Spirit may rest upon the righteous heathen as well as upon the Jew (Tanna debe Eliyahu R. ix.). It pays due homage to the wise among the heathen (Ber. 58a; Soah 35b; Bek. 8b; Gen. R. lxv.). It recognizes the existence of prophets among the heathen (B. B. 15b: “Fifteen prophets God sent to the heathen world up to the time of Moses: Balaam and his father, Job and his four friends,” etc.; comp. Lev. R. i. 12, ii. 8; Tanna debe Eliyahu R. xxvi.; ib. Zua xi., etc.). The assertion made by Max Mller, Kuenen, and others, that Judaism is not a missionary religion, rests on insufficient knowledge. There existed an extensive proselyte propaganda literature, especially in Alexandria (see Didache; Propaganda); and, according to the Midrash, “the heathen world is saved by the merit of the one proselyte who is annually won” (Gen. R. xxviii.; comp. Matt. xxiii. 15; Jellinek, “B. H.” vi., Introduction, xlvi.). Abraham and Sarah are represented as devoting their lives to making proselytes (Gen. R. xxxix.); and as the Psalmist accords to the proselytes”those that fear God”a special place (Ps. cxv. 11), so does the daily prayer of the Jew in the “Shemoneh ‘Esreh” contain a special blessing for the proselytes (“Gere ha-ede”). Only in later centuries, when the Church interfered through apostates and by edicts, was the proselyte declared to be a plague instead of a desired accession to the house of Israel (Isa. xiv. 1); the ancient Halakah endeavored to encourage the heathen to come under the wings of the Shekinah (Yeb. 47a, b; Mas. Gerim; Lev. R. ii.). In order to facilitate the admission of Gentiles, Judaism created two classes: (1) “proselytes of righteousness,” who had to bring the “sacrifices of righteousness” while submitting to the Abrahamic rite in order to become full members of the house of Israel; and (2) “proselytes of the gate” (“gere toshab”), who accepted only the seven Noachian laws (ten and thirty are also mentioned) of humanity. Occasionally the necessity of undergoing circumcision is made a matter of controversy also in the case of the full proselyte (see Circumcision). But proselytism as a system of obtaining large numbers is deprecated by Judaism.
However, the Messianic age is regarded as the one when “the fulness of the heathen world” will join Judaism (Isa. xiv. 1; Zech. viii. 23; ‘Ab. Zarah 3a). Especially characteristic of the cosmopolitan spirit of Judaism is the fact that the seventy bullocks brought as sacrifice during the Sukkot festival at the Temple were taken to be peace-offerings on behalf of the supposed seventy nations representing the heathen world (Suk. 55b), a view shared by Philo (“De Monarchia,” ii. 6; idem, “De Septenario,” p. 26; see Treitel in “Monatsschrift,” 1903, pp. 493-495). Throughout the entire ethical literature of the Jews, from Tanna debe Eliyahu R. down to the various Ethical Wills of the Rabbis, there is voiced regarding the non-Jewish world a broadly human spirit which stands in strange contrast to the narrowness with which Judaism is viewed by Christian writers, even those of high rank (see Zunz, “Z. G.” pp. 122-157). The same cosmopolitan attitude was taken by Judaism whenever its representativeswere called upon to act as intermediaries between Moslem and Christian; and the parable of the three rings, put by Lessing into the mouth of Nathan der Weise, was actually of Jewish origin (see Wnsche in “Lessing-Mendelssohn Gedenkbuch,” 1879, pp. 329 et seq.).
Owing to the Paulinian antithesis of law and faith or love (see Lwy, “Die Paulinische Lehre von Gesetz,” in “Monatsschrift,” 1903, pp. 332 et seq., 417 et seq.), the Torah, the basis and center of Judaism since Ezra, has been persistently placed in a false light by non-Jewish writers, undue stress being laid upon “the burden of the Law.” In reality, the word “Torah” signifies both “law” and “doctrine”; and Judaism stands for both while antagonizing Paul’s conception of faith as a blind dogmatic belief which fetters the mind. It prefers the bondage of the Law to the bondage of the spirit. It looks upon the divine commandments as a source of spiritual joy (“simah shel miwah”) and as a token of God’s special protection (Ber. 31a), for which it enjoins the Jew to offer Benedictions and to display zeal and enthusiastic love (Ab. v. 20). “God has given the children of Israel so many commandments in order to increase their merit [Mak. iii. 16] or to purify them” (Tan., Shemini, ed. Buber, p. 12). Every morning after having taken upon himself the yoke of God’s kingdom, the Israelite has to take upon himself the yoke of the divine commandments also (Ber. ii. 2); and there is no greater joy for the true Israelite than to be “burdened with commandments” (Ber. 17a). “Even the commonest of Jews are full of merit on account of the many commandments they fulfil” (ib. 57a.)
The Law was accordingly a privilege which was granted to Israel because of God’s special favor. Instead of blind faith, Judaism required good works for the protection of man against the spirit of sin (ib. 32b). The Law was to impress the life of the Jew with the holiness of duty. It spiritualized the whole of life. It trained the Jewish people to exercise self-control and moderation, and it sanctified the home. It rendered the commonest functions of life holy by prescribing for them special commandments. In this sense were the 613 commandments regarded by Judaism.
Some of these are understood to be divine marks of distinction to separate Israel from the other nationsstatutes (“ukkot”) which are designated as unreasonable by the heathen world, such as laws concerning diet, dress, and the like (Sifra, Aare Mot, xiii.). Others are called “‘eduyot” (testimony), in view of their having been given to make Israel testify to God’s miraculous guidance, such as the festive seasons of the year; while still others are “signs” (“ot”), being tokens of the covenant between God and Israel, such as circumcision, the Sabbath (Gen. xvii. 11; Ex. xxxi. 13), the Passover (Ex. xii. 13, xiii. 9), and, according to the rabbinical interpretation, the tefillin (Deut. vi. 8, xi. 18).
Of sacraments, in the sense of mysterious rites by which a person is brought into a lifelong bodily relationship to God, Judaism has none. The Sabbath and circumcision have been erroneously called thus by Frankel (in his “Zeitschrift,” 1844, p. 67): they are institutions of Judaism of an essential and, according to the generally accepted opinion, vital character; but they do not give any Jew the character of an adherent of the faith (see Ceremony; Commandments). At the same time the Sabbath and the festival seasons, with the ceremonies connected with them, have at all times been the most significant expressions of Jewish sentiment, and must be regarded as the most important factors of religious life both in the Synagogue and in the home (see Ab, Ninth of; Atonement, Day of; anukkah; New-Year; Passover; Purim; Sabbath; Shabuot; and Sukkot).
While the immutability of the Torah, that is, the law of Moses, both the written and the oral Law, is declared by Maimonides to be one of the cardinal doctrines of Judaism, there are views expressed in the Talmud that the commandments will be abrogated in the world to come (Nid. 61b). It is especially the dietary laws that will, it is said, be no longer in force in the Messianic time (Midr. Teh. on Ps. cxlvi. 4).
On the question whether the laws concerning sacrifice and Levitical purity have ceased to be integral parts of Judaism, Reform and Orthodox Judaism are at issue (on this and other points of difference between the two extreme parties of Judaism see Reform Judaism). Between the two stands the so-called “Breslau school,” with Zacharias Frankel as head, whose watchword was “Positive Historical Judaism,” and whose principle was “Reform tempered with Conservatism.” While no longer adhering to the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch (see Grtz in “Gesch.” ii. 299-318, and Schechter in “J. Q. R.” iii. 760-761) and the divine character of tradition (see Frankel, “Darke ha-Mishnah”), it assigns the power and authority for reforms in Judaism only to the Jewish community as a whole, or to what Schechter calls “catholic Israel.” The latter author desires “a strong authority,” one which, “drawing inspiration from the past, understands also how to reconcile us [the Jews] with the present and to prepare us [them] for the future” (“J. Q. R.” iv. 470). Grtz goes so far as to reduce Judaism to two fundamental principles: (1) “the religious element, which is mere negative monotheism in the widest acceptation of the term,” and (2) the ethical, which offers the ideal for the moral life: “Be ye holy even as I am holy”; at the same time declaring that “prophets and Talmudists did not regard sacrifice or ritual as the fundamental and determining thing in Judaism” (Grtz, i. 9). This leads to a final statement of the principles and forces of Judaism.
The Shema’, “the proclamation of God’s unity, requires an undivided Israel” (Mek., Yitro, Baodesh, i.). “One God, One Israel, and One Temple” is the principle twice stated in Josephus (“Ant.” iv. 8, 5; “Contra Ap.” ii. 28); “One God, One Israel, and One Torah” is the principle upon which Orthodox Judaism rests. “It was an evil day for Israel when the controversies between the schools of Shammai and Hillel began, and the one Torah appearedto have become two Torot” (Sanh. 88b; where the plural “Torot” occurs, it refers to the written and oral law; Yoma 28b, with reference to Gen. xxvi. 5; comp. Shab. 31a). This Torah, both written and oral, was known to and practised in all its details by the Patriarchs (Yoma 28b; Gen. R. lxiv.; comp. Jubilees, Book of, and “Attah Ead” in the liturgy). “Whosoever denies that the whole Law, written as well as oral, was given by God to Moses on Sinai is a heretic” (Sanh. 99a; Sifra, Behar, i. 1).
The trustworthiness of the divine behest until the final codification of the Law, from this point of view, rests upon the continuous chain of tradition from Moses down to the men of the Great Synagogue (Ab. i. 1), and afterward upon the successive ordination of the Rabbis by the elders with the laying on of hands (probably originally under the influence of the Holy Spirit; see Semikah). Accordingly the stability and the immutability of the Law remained from the Orthodox standpoint one of the cardinal principles of Judaism (see M. Friedlnder, “The Jewish Religion,” 1891; Samson Raphael Hirsch, “Horeb,” 1837).
Independent research, however, discerns evolution and progress to have been at work in the various Mosaic legislations (Ex. xx. 22-xxiii. 19; Deut. xii.-xxi. 13; and Leviticus together with Num. xv., xviii.-xix. 22), in the prophetic and priestly as well as in the soferic activities, and it necessarily sees in revelation and inspiration as well as in tradition a spiritual force working from within rather than a heavenly communication coming from without. From this point of view, ethical monotheism presents itself as the product not of the Semitic race, which may at best have created predisposition for prophetic inspiration and for a conception of the Deity as a personality with certain moral relations to man, but solely of the Jewish genius, whose purer and tenderer conception of life demanded a pure and holy God in sharp contrast to the cruel and lascivious gods of the other Semitic races (see M. Jol, “Religis-Philosophische Zeitfragen,” 1876, pp. 82-83).
It was the prophetic spirit of the Jewish nation embodied in Abraham (not the Midianite, as Budde thinks, nor some Babylonian tribe, as the Assyriologists would have it) which transformed Yhwh, an original tribal deity localized on Sinai and connected with the celestial phenomena of nature, into the God of holiness, “a power not ourselves that maketh for righteousness,” the moral governor of the world. Yet this spirit works throughout the Biblical time only in and through a few individuals in each age; again and again the people lapse into idolatry from lack of power to soar to the heights of prophetic vision. Only in the small Judean kingdom with the help of the Deuteronomic Book of the Law the beginning is made, and finally through Ezra the foundation is laid for the realization of the plan of “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
But while thus the people were won, and the former propensity to idolatry, the “yeer ha-ra’,” was banished forever by the power of the men of the Great Synagogue (Yoma 69b), the light of prophetic universalism became dim. Still it found its utterance in the Synagogue with its liturgy, in the Psalms, in the Books of Jonah and Job, in the Books of Wisdom, and most singularly in the hafarah read on Sabbath and holy days often to voice the prophetic view concerning sacrifice and ritual in direct antagonism to the Mosaic precepts. Here, too, “the Holy Spirit” was at work (see Inspiration; Synagogue). It created Pharisaism in opposition to Sadducean insistence upon the letter of the Law; and the day when the injunction “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” was abrogated, and the rationalistic interpretation of the Scribes was substituted therefor, was celebrated as a triumph of reason (Megillat Ta’an. iv. 1). While the legalists beheld God’s majesty confined to “the four ells of the Halakah” (Ber. 8a), the Haggadah unfolded the spirit of freedom and progress; and when mysticism in the East threatened to benumb the spirit, philosophy under Arabian influence succeeded in enlarging the mental horizon of Judaism anew.
Thus Judaism presents two streams or currents of thought ever running parallel to each other: the one conservative, the other progressive and liberal; the one accentuating the national and ritualistic, the other the cosmopolitan and spiritual, elements; mysticism here and rationalism there, these together forming the centripetal and centrifugal forces of Judaism to keep it in continuous progress upon its God-appointed track.
Judaism, parent of both Christianity and Islam, holds forth the pledge and promise of the unity of the two (“Yad,” Melakim, xi. 4; “Cuzari,” iv. 23; see Jew. Encyc. iv. 56, s.v. Christianity), as it often stood as mediator between Church and Mosque during the Middle Ages (see Disputations and Judah ha-Levi). In order to be able to “unite all mankind into one bond” (New-Year’s liturgy and Gen. R. lxxx viii.), it must form “one bond” (Lev. R. xxx.). It must, to use Isaiah’s words, constitute a tree ever pruned while “the holy seed is the substance thereof” (Isa. vi. 13); its watchword being: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. iv. 6).
For Karaitic Judaism see Karaites.
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JUDAISM – JewishEncyclopedia.com
The school has committed to both strengthening and reviving the Christian Church in the Holy Land. Historically, evangelicals in the region do not have the reputation of playing well with others. Thus, the ecumenical gathering on Saturday, September 19, was significant.
Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Author, “Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith,” ‘Just Spirituality: How Faith Practices Fuel Social Action’ and ‘Social Justice Handbook: Small Steps for a Better World’
God makes several promises to Abraham in Genesis 12-17; these also involve Sarah, extending further to the world. The opening promise in Genesis 12:1-3 involves leaving the familiarity of home and traveling to an unknown land to be shown later. That must have taken courage!
While the media is currently having lots of fun asking their hypothetical “gotcha” question over a non-existent Muslim candidate, the possibility that Bernie Sanders could become America’s first Jewish president should be a valid topic for conversation in the midst of this campaign.
Over the years, I raised four children and two stepchildren, did freelance journalism, and clung to my American-born confidence in civic discourse, the conviction that dialogue and compromise can untangle even the knottiest disagreements. But Middle Eastern reality hit me hard.
Writer, Author, ‘A Remarkable Kindness’ (HarperCollins, 2015), ‘The Mom Who Took Off On Her Motorcycle’
Washington should not pretend that the conflict and settlements are foreign issues. Its own citizens are being affected on both sides. Israel has shown it cannot be trusted to effectively handle settler terrorism and the United States should not leave the fate of its citizens in the hands of a foreign government.
Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University in Qatar
After losing my son, I joined the Parents Circle-Families Forum, an organization of more than 600 bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families, who like me, have chosen a path of reconciliation, rather than revenge.
Spokesperson, Parents Circle – Families Forum (PCFF)
President Obama promised that as soon as the Iran nuclear deal is closed he will refocus on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Given this shift of focus is now in sight, Obama should grant U.S. recognition of Palestine as an independent state, albeit a militarily occupied one.
Palestinian-American business development consultant
A review of Israel’s detention policy reveals how outrageous and convoluted the legal system behind this policy is. Israel maintains a perpetual state of emergency as a political tool to provide the legal rationale, however twisted, for the policy of continuing administrative detention.
While I didn’t watch all the winning films, I did watch other movies that in my humble opinion, are more current and relevant in their subject matter and themes.
At this time of year exactly thirty years ago, a Palestinian militant named Abu al-Abbas sat behind his office desk in Tunis, laying the final touches on an operation scheduled for October 1985.
Former Scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center – Beirut
If GCC officials slowly pivot toward the perception that their long-term interests reside in an improved relationship toward Iran, such a strategic shift would be seen in Riyadh as an erosion of GCC unity against an emboldened Iran.
Mahmoud Abbas holds many titles. He is the head of the Fateh movement, chairman of the PLO’s executive committee and president of the state of Palestine. Technically and legally, the Palestine Liberation Organization is superior.
Israel’s multiple fault lines — secular vs. religious, Jewish vs. Palestine and controversial calls for a boycott of the Jewish state — are exploding on the soccer pitch.
Senior fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s August campaign trip to Israel challenged longstanding U.S. policy towards Israel and the Palestinian territories.
When a Palestinian Christian says, “If the only choice is between violent resistance to the Occupation or submission, you must understand that for us, submission is not an option,” it needs to be heard not as a threat or ultimatum, but as a plea.
John H. Thomas
Ordained UCC minister with a forty year career in local and national UCC ministries, including General Minister and President, 1999 to 2009.
Dr. Imad Abu Kishek, the President of Al-Quds University, sat across from me as we celebrated Iftar, Ramadan’s nightly break-fast meal. The table was full of students and faculty from Brandeis and Al-Quds, all of whom share a common goal: to reestablish the partnership between our schools.
Palestine: Pictures, Videos, Breaking News
Holocaust denial is a belief that the Nazi Holocaust did not occur, or occurred to a lesser extent than believed by the preponderance of scholars. Holocaust deniers assert that the Nazis did not attempt to exterminate the Jews (as well as political opponents, Gypsies, Catholics and other Christian church members opposed to his policies, mentally retarded individuals, homosexuals, etc.) during World War II.
The holocaust denial view point has no support amongst any significant number of scholars. This denial is partly a result of a growing number of existentialist thinkers who refer to history as simply a myth as well as the result of the efforts of history revisionists and anti-Zionists.
As denial of the holocaust is nonfactual, another common strategy of history revisionism is to use relativism by comparing it to other genocides, the death toll of Germans in WWII, persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany, or the number of abortions.
One of its main purposes is to discredit the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948. Questioning the historicity of the Holocaust is considered gravely offensive to Jews , and anti-Semitic in nature. Denying the Holocaust is illegal in a number of European countries. In 2007, a German court sentenced notorious historical revisionist and denier Ernst Zndel to five years in prison for “incitement of racial hatred.” 
“Holocaust denial” is a simplistic term for a movement with several different schools of thought. Some radical conspiracy theorists and neo-Nazi groups dispute whether the Holocaust occurred, but the the superabundance of evidence undermines their argument. Most holocaust deniers do not deny that the event happened at all, but they question the methods, historiography and truth behind the holocaust. That viewpoint has manifested itself into the following arguments used by most contemporary holocaust deniers
Some holocaust deniers admit that many Jews died during the war, but dispute that there was any official Nazi policy towards extermination of the Jews. To support this argument, the point out that there exists no unequivocal written order from Adolf Hitler that orders the mass murder of Jews. This argument maintains that the Jewish deaths during the war were no more than collateral damage and/or the civilian deaths that are unavoidable, especially in a war of that size.
Despite the lack of a written order, Hitler’s intentions were well-known.In a 1939 speech in the Reichstag, Hitler voiced a goal of “annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.” Aside from that, an abundance of eyewitness testimony, diaries and orders from other Nazi officials make it clear that there was a planned extermination campaign in place. It is higly unlikely that a project of this size would occur without the knowledge or consent of the notoriously autocratic Hitler.
As well, there is abundant evidence that Nazi officials ordered widespread destruction of such written orders towards the end of the war. As it appeared increasingly likely that Germany would lose the war, Himmler ordered such documentation destroyed, so as to avoid incriminating the regime. There also exists a signed order dated April, 1945, in which Himmler orders that no prisoner “fall into the hands of the enemies alive,” since their testimony would condemn the Nazi leaders
While awaiting trial in 1960, Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann said that Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Main Security Office had told him in August 1941 that “the Fhrer has ordered the physical extermination of the Jews.”
Many deniers question the death toll of the Holocaust, arguing that the numbers are highly inflated. Many contemporary Holocaust deniers put the Jewish death toll between 300,000 and 1.1 million,  which is at odds with most widely accepted statistics, which put the Jewish death toll at approximately six million.
Simple demographic evidence effectively rebuts this argument. Deniers claim that many Jews simply emigrated elsewhere, but there are no corresponding population increases in other countries that would support this argument. While it is possible that hundreds, or even thousands of people could “fall through the cracks,” that still leaves several million Jews unaccounted for.
This axis of Holocaust denial consists of several different arguments:
These arguments collapse under the weight of overwhelming evidence. Photographs, written orders and eyewitness testimony from guards and prisoners alike support the position that gas chambers were employed for mass murder. 
Arguments based on the physical structure of the chambers (ventilation, construction and other concerns) spring from the postwar examination of the camps. However, there is ample evidence that Nazis fully or partially destroyed many execution facilities to conceal evidence of their crimes.
A letter from Karl Bischoff, the head architect at Auschwitz, to the German Armament Works dated March 31, 1943 orders three gas tight doors for Crema 3 following exactly the size and construction of those already delivered for Crema 2. Bischoff reminded the manufacturer that the doors had to have a spy-hole of double 8-mm glass with a rubber seal and metal fitting. The order was characterized as very urgent.
There are also many photographs of actual gas-tight doors that were found all over Auschwitz immediately after the war. One, which had been used in either Crema 4 or 5, had a peep-hole covered with a heavy mesh screen and still had a gas-tight seal still around the edge, just as Bischoffs letter requested. The blueprints for Crema 2 show ventilation ducts in the walls (labeled Entlftung) and the remains of the ducts can still be seen in the ruins. In the archives there is also a request for a handle for the gastight door and a request for twenty-four-gastight anchoring screws for gas tight doors for Cremas 4 and 5.
The walls and ceilings of the gas chambers were plastered and whitewashed as numerous eyewitnesses have testified. By the time Leuchter arrived at the camp to take his samples, the plaster was gone and the exposed brick had been exposed to 40 years of rain, sun and snow. As HCN leaves only a thin blue chemical residue on surfaces, any Prussian Blue residue from the HCN would have collected on the surface of the plaster and would not have left a substantial presence on the bricks and mortar or concrete underneath.
Leuchter collected 31 handful-sized samples of bricks and mortar from the cremas and one control sample from the delousing chamber in Birkenau. By the time he crawled into the ruins of Crema 2, the plaster was long gone and only the bricks and mortar and concrete remained. Cremas 4 and 5 were constructed entirely of brick. They were totally destroyed before the end of the war. Only the concrete foundations remain and bricks have been gathered from around the area and loosely stacked up to show the general outline of the floor plan of the buildings. The bricks that Leuchter sampled did not necessarily come from anywhere near the gas chamber rooms. In the laboratory the individual samples were ground up into powder. Any trace of the HCN residue that might have been there became a miniscule part of the entire sample. A more appropriate method would have tested only the surfaces of the sample. Testing the total amount of the ground up powder was like trying to analyze the color and chemical structure of paint on the inside of a wall by looking for it in the boards and masonry behind the drywall. In the case of Cremas 4 and 5, it would like analyzing the materials from another room entirely. The fact that Leuchter still found insignificant traces of the chemicals in the ruins of the gas chambers after all these years of being exposed to the elements is proof that there WERE gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau.
A properly authorized and meticulously conducted, rigorously scientific study done by Polish authorities in 1994 found that in spite of the passage of a considerable period of time (over 45 years) in the walls of the facilities which once were in contact with hydrogen cyanide the vestigial amounts of the combinations of this constituent of Zyklon B had been preserved. This is also true of the ruins of the former gas chambers.
Holocaust denial is particularly sensitive issue in Germany, the former seat of the Nazi regime. The country first outlawed denial movements in 1985, making it a crime to deny the extermination of the Jews. The law was amended in 1994, imposing a fine and a five-year prison sentence on anyone who publicly endorses, denies or plays down the genocide against the Jews. In 2007, the German government spearheaded a movement to ban Holocaust denial throughout the European Union.
A base of anti-semitism is observable in the liberal news medias of Japan in which news sources (Shukanshi) including the popular Shukan Bunshun has repeatedly published articles denying the German holocaust of European Jews.
The Westboro Baptist Church, a group of homophobic, Christian extremists and self proclaimed “fag-haters” and creators of the website GodHatesFags.com, created a parody of “Hey Jude” by the Beatles titled “Hey Jews”.
This song features several anti-semitic remarks, including the line “Fag & dyke rabbis teach rebellion. You lie about the holocaust days”. Clearly stating that they believe the Holocaust was a lie created by homosexual rabbis. 
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has become an outspoken voice of the denier movement, making many public statements condemning Israel and Jews in general. He has questioned whether the Holocaust actually occurred and hosted a conference designed to cast doubt on the idea of its historicity. 
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Holocaust denial – Conservapedia
Bet you didnt know that the mattress king sleeps here. Living on Hilton Head Island, Gary Fazio brings nearly 40 years of bedding industry know-how to the Lowcountry. Known among industry leaders as one of the most influential people in the bedding business, Fazio has spent his life learning how you can rest more peacefully.
Fazio is currently CEO of Simmons, based in Atlanta, after major stints at Sealy and Mattress Firm. Lucky for you, his son Adam Fazio owns the local Mattress Firm store in Bluffton and can pass on their collective knowledge to you as a benefit of living in the same town as the royal family of mattresses.
Adam instinctively knows he must pass on his wealth of knowledge to grow his empire. His employees are degreed professionals who work at Mattress Firm as a career, not just a job, he said. This level of expertise makes mattress buying an educational experience for the customers, not just an item to cross off their to-do list.
All of our managers go to Houston, Texas, where Mattress Firm and its Sleep School are headquartered. Under the guidance of Dr. Michael Breus, known as The Sleep Doctor, each employee learns what makes a mattress and what makes sleep restorative, Adam said. Even our delivery guys have degrees and mattress training. I am serious about this business, and everyone who represents my stores must be informed about the latest business trends and information.
Mattress Firm employees are sleep therapists: you tell them intimate details of your life in order to improve the quality of your sleep and life.
Sleep is the foundation of life. Without proper rest, we dont have the energy to live life at our best levels, Adam explained. When customers come into the store, we dont ask them what mattress they want to see. We ask them what their sleeping patterns are, if they have any physical issues, and how their sleep behaviors help or hinder the sleep of their partner, and then we show them the mattress which may best fit their needs.
Adam didnt start his career following the pillow imprints of his father. He owned a computer business and specialized in Web application and development for government agencies. He sold the company to a Washington, D.C.-based federal contractor and then moved to the Lowcountry to open his first Mattress Firm store. Just like the computer biz, Adam knows that technology and attention to details create industry leaders. He found the best location in Bluffton, as the store firmly faces Highway 278. Neil, a life-size astronaut is usually in front of the store. The caricature symbolizes the discovery of the Tempur-Pedic mattress while NASA was experimenting with materials to better cushion and support astronauts during lift-off.
While Gary continues to manage the industry on an international level, Adam is growing the family dynasty on a local level. Adam plans to expand his Hilton Head Island- Savannah franchise within the next six to nine months. The first expansion is to open a Super Center in front of Oglethorpe Mall in Savannah. The next opening is scheduled in Pooler, Georgia, on Pooler Parkway near the Savannah airport. Proud that Mattress Firm is the only specialized sleep store with sleep shops in all four time zones, Adam plans to own stores from south of Charleston to north of Jacksonville, Florida. And when you meet him, you may get the impression he lives, eats andwell, sleeps this mission.
Once I found the Bluffton location during Thanksgiving of 2007, I gutted the building and rebuilt it in four weeks, Adam said. I opened for business in 2008 when the economy was in recession and the bedding industry numbers had sunk to 2002 levels. However, I have a low-price guarantee, hired professional people, offer more than 500 models, display more than 60 of them and now our momentum is revving up by opening more stores in Georgia and South Carolina.
Adam attributes his success to customer service such as next-day service, shipping mattresses to peoples homes in other states, offering better warranties and knowing how a mattress can better a persons life. You cant sell a multi-thousand dollar Tempur-Pedic bed by putting a sign on it, he said. You have to know the science behind restful sleep. He wants the consumers needs, not whats in stock or what may be a quick sale, to dictate the bed. You keep the customers needs first and everyone wins, Adam said.
According to Adam, the forthcoming Savannah Super Center will have more mattresses on display than any other Mattress Firm store in the country. It will also feature a Tempur-Pedic Sleep Experience Center, a state-of-the-art, computerized sleep simulator that customers can experience as part of discovering what mattress best fits their needs.
Tempur-Pedic, known as the highest echelon of mattresses, has selected Adams new store to be one of the first in the United States to offer this sleep simulator. The Bluffton Mattress Firm store already has a proven track record since it is the only retailer in South Carolina to display all of Tempur-Pedic models.
Being the son of the mattress king, Adam has grown up listening to his fathers management philosophies. One of his dads strongest tenets is never to be satisfied and always to strive for the next goal. His dad said many times that success is not an accident.
In addition to his family taking note, Garys leadership has been recognized by national groups. In July 2011, the Anti-Defamation League honored Gary as one of the home furnishings executives who have created a corporate culture which benefited the lives of others and advanced the goals central to the mission of the Anti-Defamation League. (The civil rights and human relations agency, which fights all forms of bigotry, also honored renowned model and furniture designer Kathy Ireland.)
The last four years of being in the business has taught me a greater appreciation of what my dad created. I am proud of his vision and that he saw a gap between manufacturing and retail and has filled that gap to create a better experience for the customer, Adam said.
While his employees arent related by bloodline, Adam said they are a part of his plan and bond with him through shared experiences and goals. He calls his Bluffton store manager, Charles Taylor, son. Two other employees, Kimberly Morris and Rachelle Hobus are roommates. And Adams colleague from his computer days, Rob Moul, will assist in expanding the Mattress Firm franchise to other states.
Adam learned much from his dad and continues to pass it on. We are family here, he said.
For more information on your next mattress, call 843-837-FIRM!
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Hilton Head Magazines: CH2/CB2: The Mattress King Sleeps …
The Yarmk was the site of the Battle of the Yarmk River, one of the decisive battles in the history of Palestine. The Arabs, who under Khlid ibn al-Wald had conquered Damascus in ad 635, were forced to leave the city when they were threatened by a large Byzantine army under Theodorus Trithurius. Khlid concentrated his forces south of the Yarmk River,…
…treaties in the ancient world comes from Hittite sources, which were contemporary with the events that preceded and led up to the formation of the ancient Israelite federation of tribes in Palestine. The treaty form in written texts was highly developed and flexible but usually exhibited the following structure: preamble, historical prologue, stipulations, provisions for deposit and…
A successful surprise attack on the Egyptian relief army ensured the Crusaders occupation of Palestine. Having fulfilled their vows of pilgrimage, most of the Crusaders departed for home, leaving the problem of governing the conquered territories to the few who remained. Initially, there was disagreement concerning the nature of the government to be established, and some held that the holy…
…vacant bishoprics and abbacies from Clement III (118791). Yet Frederick did not live to consolidate this effort. The defeat of the Crusader army at an in the Holy Land in July 1187 and the subsequent fall of Jerusalem sent a great shock through the West and inspired the Third Crusade. Frederick took the cross; the kings of England and France followed…
…from Asia is known in the late 12th dynasty and became more widespread in the 13th. From the late 18th century bc the northeastern Nile River delta was settled by successive waves of peoples from Palestine, who retained their own material culture. Starting with the Instruction for Merikare, Egyptian texts warn against the dangers of infiltration of this sort, and its occurrence…
…frequent and violent. The pressure prevented any Egyptian government from settling its two main external problems: the need to revise the treaty with Britain, and the wish to back the Arabs in Palestine. Negotiations with Britain, undertaken by al-Nuqrsh and (after February 1946) by his successor, idq, broke down over the British refusal to rule out eventual…
After rule by the Ottoman Empire ended there in World War I (191418), the Gaza area became part of the League of Nations mandate of Palestine under British rule. Before this mandate ended, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) in November 1947 accepted a plan for the Arab-Jewish partition of Palestine under which the town of Gaza and an area of surrounding territory were to be…
militant Palestinian Islamic movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic state in Palestine. Founded in 1987, ams opposed the 1993 peace accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
…198690. One conflict, however, always remained volatileand perhaps even more so for the retreat of the superpowers and their stabilizing influence: the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Throughout his years as U.S. secretary of state, George Schultz had tried to promote the peace process in the Middle East by brokering direct negotiations between Israel and the…
The Jewish population is diverse. Jews from eastern and western Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia, North America, and Latin America have been immigrating to this area since the late 19th century. Differing in ethnic origin and culture, they brought with them languages and customs from a variety of countries. The Jewish community today includes survivors of the Holocaust,…
The Zionist movement of the late 19th century had led by 1917 to the Balfour Declaration, by which Britain promised an eventual homeland for Jews in Palestine. When that former Ottoman province became a British mandate under the League of Nations in 1922, it contained about 700,000 people, of whom only 58,000 were Jews. By the end of the 1920s, however, the Jewish community had tripled, and,…
…in rallying pan-Arab unity around resistance to Israels plans to divert the waters of the Jordan. Also with both eyes on Israel, the conference restored an Arab High Command and elevated the Palestinian refugees (scattered among several Arab states since 1948) to a status approaching sovereignty, with their own army and headquarters in the Gaza Strip. Syria likewise sponsored a terrorist…
(Hebrew: Defense), Zionist military organization representing the majority of the Jews in Palestine from 1920 to 1948. Organized to combat the revolts of Palestinian Arabs against the Jewish settlement of Palestine, it early came under the influence of the Histadrut (General Federation of Labour). Although it was outlawed by the British Mandatory authorities and was…
Jewish right-wing underground movement in Palestine, founded in 1931. At first supported by many nonsocialist Zionist parties, in opposition to the Haganah, it became in 1936 an instrument of the Revisionist Party, an extreme nationalist group that had seceded from the World Zionist Organization and whose policies called for the use of force, if necessary, to establish a Jewish state on both…
…and nationalist parties. The decision caused deep divisions within the party; many members objected that alliance would undermine Labours position of support for peace negotiations with the Palestinians. In January 2011 Barak and four Labour members of the Knesset split away from Labour, forming a new party that remained in the ruling coalition. The remaining Labour members of the…
…government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin) and the Palestine Liberation Organization; although Likud supported a peace with guarantees of security, it opposed ceding major portions of land to Palestinian control and dismantling Israeli settlements in the territories that Israel had conquered in 1967. However, in subsequent years the party grew increasingly divided over its policies…
In modern times, Lod was part of the territory allocated to the potential Arab state in Palestine according to the United Nations partition resolution of Nov. 29, 1947. When the resolution was rejected by the Arab states, Lod was occupied by the invading Arab Legion of Jordan. The Israel Defense Forces attacked and captured the city on July 12, 1948; since then it has been part of Israel and…
Thanks to Bushs leadership, the conference that opened in Madrid on October 30, 1991, spawned three diplomatic tracks: IsraeliPalestinian discussions on an interim settlement; bilateral talks between Israel, on the one hand, and Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, on the other; and multilateral conferences designed to support the first two tracks. Syrias President Assad signalled a new…
…and education. It also has opposed efforts to further secularize Israel, particularly proposals to introduce civil marriage. Shas has equivocated on the peace accords signed between Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s; with the exception of East Jerusalem, Shas has steadfastly opposed the building of Israeli settlements in areas conquered by Israel in 1967, and, though it supports…
Zionist extremist organization in Palestine, founded in 1940 by Avraham Stern (190742) after a split in the right-wing underground movement Irgun Zvai Leumi.
Palestine in Jesus day was part of the Roman Empire, which controlled its various territories in a number of ways. In the East (eastern Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt), territories were governed either by kings who were friends and allies of Rome (often called client kings or, more disparagingly, puppet kings) or by governors supported by a…
…by the famous Sword of Islam, Khlid ibn al-Walddestroyed a Byzantine army at the Battle of the Yarmk River and brought the greater part of Syria and Palestine under Muslim rule.
…accord in 1993 but nonetheless stated his willingness to support the Palestinian people. He was concerned over issues relating to Jordans economic links with the West Bank and the future status of Palestinians in Jordan. About a year later, Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in which ussein was recognized as the custodian of the Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem.
…tried to push forward into Egypt but was forced to pull back after a bloody, undecided battle and to regroup his army in Babylonia. After smaller incursions against the Arabs of Syria, he attacked Palestine at the end of 598. King Jehoiakim of Judah had rebelled, counting on help from Egypt. According to the chronicle, Jerusalem was taken on March 16, 597. Jehoiakim had died during the siege,…
…surface to ensure some kind of crop under normal conditions. It is therefore not surprising that there is evidence of simple agriculture as far back as the 8th or 9th millennium bc, especially in Palestine, where more excavating has been done in early sites than in any other country of the Middle East. Many bone sickle handles and flint sickle edges dating from between c. 9000 and 7000…
…sphere of influence in Mesopotamia extended as far north as Baghdad, and Britain was given control of Haifa and Akko and of territory linking the Mesopotamian and Haifa-Akko spheres. Palestine was to be placed under an international regime. In compensation, the Russian gains were extended (AprilMay 1916) to include the Ottoman provinces of Trabzon, Erzurum, Van, and Bitlis…
umbrella political organization claiming to represent the worlds Palestiniansthose Arabs, and their descendants, who lived in mandated Palestine before the creation there of the State of Israel in 1948. It was formed in 1964 to centralize the leadership of various Palestinian groups that previously had operated as clandestine resistance movements. It came into prominence only after the…
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), organized in 1964 to represent some 2,000,000 refugees from the Palestine mandate who were scattered around the Arab world and from 1968 led by Ysir Araft, was also divided between old families of notables, whose authority dated back to Ottoman times, and young middle-class or fedayeen factions anxious to exert pressure on Israel…
Discontent in Palestine intensified after 1920, when the Conference of San Remo awarded the British government a mandate to control Palestine. With its formal approval by the League of Nations in 1922, this mandate incorporated the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which provided for both the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine and the preservation of the civil and religious (but…
one of a people of Aegean origin who settled on the southern coast of Palestine in the 12th century bc, about the time of the arrival of the Israelites. According to biblical tradition (Deuteronomy 2:23; Jeremiah 47:4), the Philistines came from Caphtor (possibly Crete). They are mentioned in Egyptian records as prst, one of the Sea Peoples that invaded Egypt in about 1190 bc after…
…He was the only Arab ruler prepared to accept the United Nations partitioning of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states (1947). In the war with Israel in May 1948, his armies occupied the region of Palestine due west of the Jordan River, which came to be called the West Bank, and captured east Jerusalem, including much of the Old City. Two years later he annexed the West Bank territory into the…
…to rally Jewish opinion, especially in the United States, to the Allied side during World War I. The declaration, pledging British aid for Zionist efforts to establish a home for world Jewry in Palestine, gave great impetus to the establishment of the State of Israel.
(Nov. 2, 1917), statement of British support for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. It was made in a letter from Arthur James Balfour, the British foreign secretary, to Lionel Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild (of Tring), a leader of British Jewry. Though the precise meaning of the correspondence has been disputed, its statements were…
…after the general election of 1981. Despite his willingness to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt under the terms of the peace agreement, he remained resolutely opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In June 1982 his government mounted an invasion of Lebanon in an effort to oust the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from its bases there….
…to their original homeland of Israel. Zionism fascinated the young David Gruen, and he became convinced that the first step for the Jews who wanted to revive Israel as a nation was to immigrate to Palestine and settle there as farmers. In 1906 the 20-year-old Gruen arrived in Palestine and for several years worked as a farmer in the Jewish agricultural settlements in the coastal plain and in…
Appointed mediator in Palestine by the UN Security Council on May 20, 1948, Bernadotte obtained the grudging acceptance by the Arab states and Israel of a UN cease-fire order, effective June 11. He soon made enemies by his proposal that Arab refugees be allowed to return to their homes in what had become the State of Israel. After a number of threats against his life, he and Andr-Pierre…
in the Old Testament, one of the spies sent by Moses from Kadesh in southern Palestine to spy out the land of Canaan. Only Caleb and Joshua advised the Hebrews to proceed immediately to take the land; for his faith Caleb was rewarded with the promise that he and his descendants should possess it (Numbers 1314). Subsequently Caleb settled in Hebron (Kiriatharba) after driving out the…
…he substituted a reliance on the air force and the establishment of rulers congenial to British interests; for this settlement of Arab affairs he relied heavily on the advice of T.E. Lawrence. For Palestine, where he inherited conflicting pledges to Jews and Arabs, he produced in 1922 the White Paper that confirmed Palestine as a Jewish national home while recognizing continuing Arab rights….
…as a British army major, he served as an aide to the British minister of state in Cairo. In 1946 he worked with the Jewish Agency as a political information officer to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. He also served as the liaison officer with the United Nations (UN) Special Committee on Palestine in 1947 and as a member of the delegation to the General Assembly that played a critical…
grand mufti of Jerusalem and Arab nationalist figure who played a major role in Arab resistance to Zionist political ambitions in Palestine and became a strong voice in the Arab nationalist and anti-Zionist movements.
Jewish mystic, fervent Zionist, and first chief rabbi of Palestine under the League of Nations mandate to Great Britain to administer Palestine.
…his victory over the English, Louis IX fell seriously ill with a form of malaria at Pontoise-ls-Noyon. It was then, in December 1244, that he decided to take up the cross and go to free the Holy Land, despite the lack of enthusiasm among his barons and his entourage. The situation in the Holy Land was critical. Jerusalem had fallen into Muslim hands on August 23, 1244, and the armies of…
…attended the Milwaukee Normal School (now University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and later became a leader in the Milwaukee Labor Zionist Party. In 1921 she and her husband, Morris Myerson, emigrated to Palestine and joined the Meravya kibbutz. She became the kibbutzs representative to the Histadrut (General Federation of Labour), the secretary of that organizations Womens Labour…
…Mizrai wielded a disproportionate influence in Zionism, because of both its religiohistorical weight and its hold on the masses of Orthodox Jews in eastern Europe. In post-World War I Palestine, it played an active role in the Jewish community, establishing religious schools and firmly backing the sole authority of the chief rabbinate over matters of personal status among Jews,…
On expeditions in Syria and Palestine from June to December of 604, Nebuchadrezzar received the submission of local states, including Judah, and captured the city of Ashkelon. With Greek mercenaries in his armies, further campaigns to extend Babylonian control in Palestine followed in the three succeeding years. On the last occasion (601/600), Nebuchadrezzar clashed with an Egyptian army, with…
…the region, who were unable to present a unified military front against the invaders. Nr al-Dn waged military campaigns against the Crusaders in an attempt to expel them from Syria and Palestine. His forces recaptured Edessa shortly after his accession, invaded the important military district of Antakiya in 1149, and took Damascus in 1154. Egypt was annexed by stages in…
British author, traveller, and mystic, a controversial figure whose quest to establish a Jewish state in Palestinefulfilling prophecy and bringing on the end of the worldwon wide support among both Jewish and Christian officials but was thought by some to be motivated either by commercial interests or by a desire to strengthen Britains position in the Near East.
…this fundamental question, Paul VI undertook a series of apostolic journeys that were unparalleled occasions for a pope to set foot on every continent. His first journey was a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (January 1964), highlighted by his historic meeting with the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras, in Jerusalem. At the end of that same year, he went to India, the first…
Richard, who succeeded Henry as king of England, had already undertaken to go on Crusade against Saladin in the Holy Land (the Third Crusade), and Philip now did likewise. Before his departure, he made the so-called Testament of 1190 to provide for the government of his kingdom in his absence. On his way to Palestine, he met Richard in Sicily, where they promptly found themselves at variance,…
When Pompey (10648 bce) invaded Palestine in 63 bce, Antipater supported his campaign and began a long association with Rome, from which both he and Herod were to benefit. Six years later Herod met Mark Antony, whose lifelong friend he was to remain. Julius Caesar also favoured the family; he appointed Antipater procurator of Judaea in 47 bce and conferred on him Roman citizenship,…
…and philosopher, one of the first Jewish members of the British cabinet (as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, 190910). He was perhaps most important as first British high commissioner for Palestine (192025), carrying out that delicate assignment with varying but considerable success.
Palestine was destined to be an important centre because of its strategic location for trade by land and sea. It alone connects Asia and Africa by land, and, along with Egypt, it is the only area with ports on the Atlantic-Mediterranean and Red SeaIndian Ocean waterways. Solomon is said to have fulfilled the commercial destiny of Palestine and brought it to its greatest heights. The…
…the early years of the war he took an important part in the negotiations that led up to the governments Balfour Declaration (November 1917) favouring the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine.
…War I between Great Britain and France, with the assent of imperial Russia, for the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. The agreement led to the division of Turkish-held Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine into various French- and British-administered areas. Negotiations were begun in November 1915, and the final agreement took its name from its negotiators, Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and…
…from India required, at almost the same time, the termination of the mandate in Trans-Jordan, the evacuation of all of Egypt except the Suez Canal territory, and in 1948 the withdrawal from Palestine, which coincided with the proclamation of the State of Israel. It has been argued that the orderly and dignified ending of the British Empire, beginning in the 1940s and stretching into the…
resolution passed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1947 that called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with the city of Jerusalem as a corpus separatum (Latin: separate entity) to be governed by a special international regime. The resolutionwhich was considered by the Jewish community in Palestine…
The approximately 2,270-square-mile (5,900-square-km) area is the centre of contending Arab and Israeli aspirations in Palestine. Within its present boundaries, it represents the portion of the former mandate retained in 1948 by the Arab forces that entered Palestine after the departure of the British. The borders and status of the area were established by the Jordanian-Israeli armistice of…
…colonial spheres of influence. In their dealings with the Arabs the British spoke of independence for the region. Then, on Nov. 2, 1917, the Balfour Declaration promised the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, albeit without prejudice to the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities. Foreign Secretary Arthur…
Having assumed command in Egypt (see above The Egyptian frontiers, 1915July 1917), Allenby transferred his headquarters from Cairo to the Palestinian front and devoted the summer of 1917 to preparing a serious offensive against the Turks. On the Turkish side, Falkenhayn, now in command at Aleppo, was at this time himself planning a drive into the Sinai Peninsula for the autumn, but the…
…exercising their right under the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930 to move troops across Iraqi territory, landed troops at Basra on April 19 and rejected Iraqi demands that these troops be sent on into Palestine before any further landings. Iraqi troops were then concentrated around the British air base at abbnyah, west of Baghdad; and on May 2 the British commander there…
…a necessity both for the Jews and for the rest of humanity. Among the Jews of Russia and eastern Europe, a number of groups were engaged in trying to settle emigrants in agricultural colonies in Palestine. After the Russian pogroms of 1881, Leo Pinsker had written a pamphlet, Auto-Emanzipation, an appeal to western European Jews to assist in the establishment of colonies in…
Jewish nationalist movement that has had as its goal the creation and support of a Jewish national state in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews (Hebrew: Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel). Though Zionism originated in eastern and central Europe in the latter part of the 19th century, it is in many ways a continuation of the ancient attachment of the Jews and of the…
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history of Palestine | Britannica.com
Even at just over three hours, a reasonably fitting runtime for this subject matter and relatively shorter runtime for a miniseries, the series remains plagued by excess material, particularly filler that especially slows down the momentum and drives unevenness amidst this should-be frequently moving story. Excess material grows less and less severe as the story progresses, yet remains all too common throughout, bloating a story of such tonal dynamicity to the point of making many of the tonal shifts jarring, and it doesn’t help that there are still some spots of scenario set-up and exposition that are either glossed over or crowbarred in ever so awkwardly. These are common issues among miniseries of this type, yet with a story with this much depth, dynamicity and momentum, it can’t afford to have such storytelling flaws as excessive bloating and akward, if not hurried exposition, much less the central flaw that it all leads back to. What is one of the biggest betrayals to the series’ story, as well as the ultimate fault within the series is simply the fact that it pulls that old TV network (Especially ABC) bad move of being much too unsubtle, exploiting the aforementioned excessive filler and forced exposition, as well as some overbearingness in tone and a fair deal of almost inhumanly obvious pieces of dialogue or action, as manipulative forms of story and character fleshing, while not taking enough time to extensively explore depth or smooth out the edges, making for a series of limited dynamicity that just gel all that terribly well with the extreme dynamicity within the extremely human subject matter. This betrayal is hardly offensive, let alone as offensive as I make it sound, yet the series still leaves much to be desired, and were it more comfortable in its sprawling length, with more tightness of filler, more depth in exposition and, overall, more subtlty, depth and livliness, it would have quite possibly made for a sensational experience. As it stands, however, every flaw goes counteracted by truly remarkable strengths, some of which all but, if not decidedly redeem some of the flaws listed. The series is no huge masterpiece (Thanks a lot, ABC), yet it is a worthwhile saga, with high points that are sometimes actually contradictory to the faults, as well as consistent strengths that make it reasonably easy to power through the flaws.
Through all of its limitations, the series is considerably well-produced, with lively production designs that very cleverly replicate the era, as well as sharp art direction that almost brilliantly plays with scope, presenting a degree of sweep that reflects the reach of consequence throughout the areas plagued by the dreaded grip of the Nazis, yet still boasts a degree of intimacy that gives us a feel for the isolation and humanity of our characters in an actually subtle fashion that may go outweighed by the general unsubtlty of the final product, yet still makes good use of the excessive fleshing out. Another aspect that makes good use of the overwhelming filler is the direction, for although poor Robert Dornhelm finds his hands tied by the excessiveness, to where he can’t bypass its generally being a mess, he still manages to absorb from all of unsbutleties and filler a surprising and undeniably considerable degree of charm that certainly doesn’t redeem the unsubtlties, yet certainly helps you in somewhat accepting them until Dornhelm finally breaks through and really delivers. Now, the series has its more subtle points, yet is almost entirely rather blatant, even at its core emotional moments, and there’s nothing that Dornhelm can do about that, so thus, when he needs to most, he doesn’t so much succumb to the unsubtlties as much as he embraces them and use them to his advantage, meditating upon the center of the tone and enhancing the focus with the unsubtle supplements, pushing and pushing until he breaks in a genuinely non-manipulative fashion and creates intense resonance, thus making the most consequential moments tense and the most emotional moments near crushing, especially during the heartbreakingly unflinching final segment. If Dornhelm could do so much with unsubtle material, then I itch to find out what he could have done with a more cleverly-crafted script, yet I’ll take what I can get and what I’m getting is a product that’s more often than rather distant, yet truly impacting when emotion does carry through, and for that, credit not only goes out to Dornhelm, but his performers. As components to the unsubtlty, certain characters are written to have only so many layers, and some are not even lucky enough for their limited layers to not feel a smidge exaggerated, yet most everyone has his or her time in sun, in which they manage to transcend the flaws in the character structuring for satisfyingly contradictory depth and even a few layers. Still, it’s our young “lead” (She’s third down on the cast list on IMDB; What?) Hannah Taylor-Gordon who is presented with the most layered material and delivers the most in execution, nailing the initial youthful optimism and noble spirit of Anne Frank with electric charisma that draws you in, especially when you consider that this optimism shan’t last. Well, sure enough, tragedy and danger falls upon young Anne Frank and plunges her into a world she much mature to in order to survive, at which point, Taylor-Gordon unveils a transformation in Frank that’s so genuine, so emotional and so intensely atmospheric that it doesn’t simply steal the show, but draws unexpected depth through all of the unsubtlty from the person who should have the most depth, making for a transformative and compelling lead performance by that stands as one of the keys to the series’ ultimately emerging much more satisfying than not.
Bottom line, the excessive bloating – mostly through superfluous filler – and limited meditation upon smoothing out the story leave tonal shifts uneven and stand alongside writing spots and some overbearingness in tone as supplements to the series’ central problem of being tremendously unsubtle, not absorbing enough depth for truly impacting resonance, yet what the series does get right, it nails with impressive results, whether it be clever production and art direction that creates a feel for the environment, or Robert Dornhelm’s mostly inspired direction, which keeps the less resonant moments going with charm and strikes at opportunity of genuineness to create some undeniably strong emotional surges, and does so with the help of a myriad of strong performances, headed by an enthralling and layered Hanna Taylor-Gordon, who helps in ultimately making “Anne Frank: The Whole Story” a consistently charming, periodically resonant and ultimately rewarding extensive portrait on the timeless tale.
3/5 – Good
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Anne Frank (2001) – Rotten Tomatoes
Judaism (joo`dz’m, joo`d), the religious beliefs and practices and the way of life of the JewsJews [from Judah], traditionally, descendants of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, whose tribe, with that of his half-brother Benjamin, made up the kingdom of Judah; historically, members of the worldwide community of adherents to Judaism. ….. Click the link for more information. . The term itself was first used by Hellenized Jews to describe their religious practice, but it is of predominantly modern usage; it is not used in the Bible or in Rabbinic literature and only rarely in the literature of the medieval period. The word TorahTorah [Heb.,=teachings or learning], Hebrew name for the five books of Mosesthe Law of Moses or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. The Torah is believed by Orthodox Jews to have been handed down to Moses on Mt. Sinai and transmitted by him to the Jews. ….. Click the link for more information. is employed when referring to the divinely revealed teachings of Jewish law and belief. Judaism is used more broadly, including also the totality of human interpretation and practice. Thus, one may speak of “secular Judaism,” referring to an adherence to values expressed by Judaism but removed from any religious context. The most important holy days in Judaism are the weekly SabbathSabbath [Heb.,=repose], in Judaism, last day of the week (Saturday), observed as a rest day for the twenty-five hours commencing with sundown on Friday. In the biblical account of creation (Gen. 1) the seventh day is set as a Sabbath to mark God’s rest after his work. ….. Click the link for more information. , the major holidays of Rosh ha-ShanahRosh ha-Shanah [Heb.,=head of the year], the Jewish New Year, also known as the Feast of the Trumpets. It is observed on the first day of the seventh month, Tishri, occurring usually in September. ….. Click the link for more information. , Yom KippurYom Kippur [Heb.,=day of atonement], in Judaism, the most sacred holy day, falling on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishri (usually late September or early October). It is a day of fasting and prayer for forgiveness for sins committed during the year. ….. Click the link for more information. , Sukkoth (see Tabernacles, Feast ofTabernacles, Feast of, one of the oldest and most joyous of Jewish holidays, called in the Bible the Feast of Ingathering and today often called by its Hebrew name, Sukkoth [Heb.,=booth]. ….. Click the link for more information. ), Simhat Torah, PassoverPassover, in Judaism, one of the most important and elaborate of religious festivals. Its celebration begins on the evening of the 14th of Nisan (first month of the religious calendar, corresponding to MarchApril) and lasts seven days in Israel, eight days in the Diaspora ….. Click the link for more information. , and ShavuotShavuot [Heb.,=weeks], Jewish feast celebrated on the 6th of the month of Sivan (usually some time in May) in Israel and on the sixth and seventh days in the Diaspora. Originally an agricultural festival celebrating the end of the winter grain harvest (which began at Passover), ….. Click the link for more information. , and the minor holidays of HanukkahHanukkah , in Judaism, the Festival of Lights, the Feast of Consecration, or the Feast of the Maccabees; also transliterated Chanukah. According to tradition, it was instituted by Judas Maccabeus and his brothers in 165 B.C. ….. Click the link for more information. , PurimPurim [Heb.,=lots], Jewish festival celebrated on the 14th of Adar, the twelfth month in the Jewish calendar (Feb.March). During leap years it is celebrated in Adar II. According to the book of Esther (Esther 3.7; 9. ….. Click the link for more information. , and Tisha B’Av. The Early Period
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 MosesMoses , Hebrew lawgiver, probably b. Egypt. The prototype of the prophets, he led his people in the 13th cent. B.C. out of bondage in Egypt to the edge of Canaan. The narrative in the Bible is the chief source of information on his life. ….. Click the link for more information. 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 MessiahMessiah or Messias [Heb.,=anointed], in Judaism, a man who would be sent by God to restore Israel and reign righteously for all humanity. The idea developed among the Jews especially in their adversity, and such a conception is clearly indicated in Isaiah 9. ….. Click the link for more information. .
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 TestamentOld Testament, Christian name for the Hebrew Bible, which serves as the first division of the Christian Bible (see New Testament). The designations “Old” and “New” seem to have been adopted after c.A.D. ….. Click the link for more information. , 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 PhariseesPharisees , one of the two great Jewish religious and political parties of the second commonwealth. Their opponents were the Sadducees, and it appears that the Sadducees gave them their name, perushim, Hebrew for “separatists” or “deviants. ….. Click the link for more information. further developed the Oral Law, in opposition to the literalness of the SadduceesSadducees , sect of Jews formed around the time of the Hasmonean revolt (c.200 B.C.). Little is known concerning their beliefs, but according to Josephus Flavius, they upheld only the authority of the written law, and not the oral tradition held by the Pharisees. ….. Click the link for more information. , 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 MaccabeesMaccabees or Machabees , Jewish family of the 2d and 1st cent. B.C. that brought about a restoration of Jewish political and religious life. They are also called Hasmoneans or Asmoneans after their ancestor, Hashmon. ….. Click the link for more information. 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 grewnational catastrophe and the messianic kingdom were seen as imminent events. Some groups (see EssenesEssenes , members of a small Jewish religious order, originating in the 2d cent. B.C. The chief sources of information about the Essenes are Pliny the Elder, Philo’s Quod omnius probus liber, Josephus’ Jewish War and Antiquities of the Jews, ….. Click the link for more information. ; QumranQumran , ancient village on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, in what is now the Israeli-occupied West Bank. It is famous for its caves, in some of which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Archaeological work at Qumran has yielded a profile of its history. ….. Click the link for more information. ) 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.
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 synagoguesynagogue [Gr.,=assembly], in Judaism, a place of assembly for worship, education, and communal affairs. The origins of the institution are unclear. One tradition dates it to the Babylonian exile of the 6th cent. B.C. ….. Click the link for more information. (the Second Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70), of the priest by the rabbirabbi [Heb.,=my master; my teacher], the title of a Jewish spiritual leader. The role of the rabbi has undergone a number of transformations. In the Talmudic period, rabbis were primarily teachers and interpreters of the Torah. ….. Click the link for more information. , 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 MishnaMishna , in Judaism, codified collection of Oral Lawlegal interpretations of portions of the biblical books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy and other legal material. Together with the Gemara, or Amoraic commentary on the Mishna, it comprises the Talmud. ….. Click the link for more information. ; TalmudTalmud [Aramaic from Heb.,=learning], in Judaism, vast compilation of the Oral Law with rabbinical elucidations, elaborations, and commentaries, in contradistinction to the Scriptures or Written Laws. The Talmud is the accepted authority for Orthodox Jews everywhere. ….. Click the link for more information. ) and the MidrashMidrash [Heb.,=to examine, to investigate], verse by verse interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures, consisting of homily and exegesis, by Jewish teachers since about 400 B.C. ….. Click the link for more information. , 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 (halakahhalakah or halacha [Heb.,=law], in Judaism, the body of law regulating all aspects of life, including religious ritual, familial and personal status, civil relations, criminal law, and relations with non-Jews. ….. Click the link for more information. ) 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 MitzvahBar Mitzvah [Aramaic,=son of the Commandment], Jewish ceremony in which the young male is initiated into the religious community, according to tradition at the age of 13 years and a day. ….. Click the link for more information. ); 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 RashiRashi , 10401105, Jewish exegete, grammarian, and legal authority, b. Troyes, France. The name he is known by is an acronym of Rabbi Solomon bar Isaac. He studied in Worms and Mainz, returning to Troyes c.1065. ….. Click the link for more information. and MaimonidesMaimonides or Moses ben Maimon , 11351204, Jewish scholar, physician, and philosopher, the most influential Jewish thinker of the Middle Ages, b. Crdoba, Spain, d. Cairo. ….. Click the link for more information. ).
The kabbalahkabbalah or cabala [Heb.,=reception], esoteric system of interpretation of the Scriptures based upon a tradition claimed to have been handed down orally from Abraham. ….. Click the link for more information. 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 LuriaLuria or Loria, Isaac ben Solomon , 153472, Jewish kabbalist, surnamed Ashkenazi, called Ari [lion] by his followers, b. Jerusalem. In his 20s he spent seven years in seclusion, intensely studying the kabbalah. ….. Click the link for more information. 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 AbravanelAbravanel or Abarbanel, Judah, c.1460c.1523, Jewish philosopher, physician, and poet, son of Isaac Abravanel, b. Lisbon; he is also known as Leone Ebreo. ….. Click the link for more information. 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 SephardimSephardim , one of the two major geographic divisions of the Jewish people, consisting of those Jews whose forebears in the Middle Ages resided in the Iberian Peninsula, as distinguished from those who lived in Germanic lands, who came to be known as the Ashkenazim (see ….. Click the link for more information. ), and these events provoked much messianic and kabbalist speculation, culminating in the spectacular career of the self-proclaimed Messiah, Sabbatai ZeviSabbatai Zevi , 162676, Jewish mystic and pseudo-Messiah, founder of the Sabbatean sect, b. Smyrna. After a period of study of Lurianic kabbalah (see Luria, Isaac ben Solomon), he became deeply influenced by its ideas of imminent national redemption. ….. Click the link for more information. .
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 SpinozaSpinoza, Baruch or Benedict , 163277, Dutch philosopher, b. Amsterdam. Spinoza’s Life
He belonged to the community of Jews from Spain and Portugal who had fled the Inquisition. ….. Click the link for more information. , 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 SolomonElijah ben Solomon, 172097, Jewish scholar, called the Gaon of Vilna, b. Lithuania. A leading Jewish scholar of his time, he opposed the spread of Hasidism in Lithuania and Poland because he feared that the creation of these new groups would weaken the Jewish community. ….. Click the link for more information. and the untraditional figures of Baal-Shem-TovBaal-Shem-Tov , c.16981760, Jewish founder of modern Hasidism, b. Ukraine. His life is the subject of many tales that circulated even before his death. Originally named Israel ben Eliezer, he is said to have been born of elderly, poor parents and to have been orphaned at ….. Click the link for more information. , the founder of HasidismHasidism or Chassidism [Heb.,=the pious], Jewish religious movement founded in Poland in the 18th cent. by Baal-Shem-Tov. Its name derives from Hasidim. Hasidism, which stressed the mercy of God and encouraged joyous religious expression through music and dance, spread ….. Click the link for more information. (which Elijah himself fought against), and Moses MendelssohnMendelssohn, Moses , 172986, German-Jewish philosopher; grandfather of Felix Mendelssohn. He was a leader in the movement for cultural assimilation. In 1743 he went to Berlin, where he studied and worked, becoming (1750) a partner in a silk merchant’s firm. ….. Click the link for more information. , the spiritual progenitor of later reformers whom Elijah’s spiritual descendants repeatedly condemned.
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 GeigerGeiger, Abraham , 181074, German rabbi, Semitic scholar and Orientalist, theologian, and foremost exponent of the Reform movement in Judaism. When he received his doctorate (1833) from the Univ. of Bonn, he was already a rabbi in Wiesbaden. ….. Click the link for more information. ), this problem was met directly in Eastern Europe, giving rise to the HaskalahHaskalah , [Heb.,=enlightenment] Jewish movement in Europe active from the 1770s to the 1880s. Beginning in Germany in the circle of the German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn and spreading to Galicia and Russia, the Haskalah called for increased secularization of Jewish ….. Click the link for more information. movement, whose members (e.g., Nachman KrochmalKrochmal, Nachman , 17851840, Jewish secular historian and writer, b. Galicia. He was a leader in the movement of the Jewish enlightenment and a pioneer of modern Jewish scholarship. ….. Click the link for more information. ) sought to revitalize Jewish life by recreating it along the lines of the best in European culture.
In the late 19th cent., ZionismZionism, modern political movement for reconstituting a Jewish national state in Palestine. Early Years
The rise of the Zionist movement in the late 19th cent. ….. Click the link for more information. 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. KaplanKaplan, Mordecai Menahem , 18811983, American rabbi, educator, and philosopher, b. Lithuania, grad. College of the City of New York, 1900, M.A. Columbia Univ., 1902. He came to the United States when he was eight years old. ….. Click the link for more information. 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).
1.the religion of the Jews, based on the Old Testament and the Talmud and having as its central point a belief in the one God as transcendent creator of all things and the source of all righteousness
2.the religious and cultural traditions, customs, attitudes, and way of life of the Jews http://jewfaq.org/ http://judaism.about.com/
Theodore Herzls imaginative description of the future Zionist settlement in Palestine. [Jewish Hist.: Colliers, XIX, 79]
chooses Judaism even when renunciation would save him from execution. [Ger. Lit.: Feuchtwanger Power; Magill I, 773]
a religion that arose in Palestine during the first millennium B.C.; it is practiced among Jews. (There are no reliable statistical data on the number of practicing Jews; the majority live in Israel and the USA.)
According to biblical legend, certain Western Semitic (Hebrew) nomadic tribes fled from the Egyptian pharaoh into the desert in the 13th century B.C. At the time of their invasion of Palestine they were united by the common worship of Yahweh, a god of the tribal federation. The tribal federation, which took the name of Israel (god strives), took final shape by the 11th century B.C. The worship of Yahweh (the pronunciation of his name later became taboo and was replaced by the word Lord) did not exclude the worship of other deities, both of the Hebrews own tribes and of the local Canaanites. There were no images made of Yahweh and no temples built to him; a tabernacle, or tent, with a coffer, or ark, inside, devoted to Yahweh, was considered the earthly dwelling-place of the god, who was invisibly present throughout the world. The official rites were performed by a special tribal group, or caste, called Levites. After the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel and Judah in the late 11th century B.C., King Solomon (King Davids son) built a temple to Yahweh in Jerusalem. The worship of Yahweh thus became the basis of the official ideology of the state, which defended the interests of the slaveholders. When the kingdom was divided in the tenth century B.C. into the northern Kingdom of Israel proper and the southern Kingdom of Judah, centered on Jerusalem, the Temple retained its importance primarily for the southern kingdom; the northern kingdom had temples of its own. But even the southern kingdom officially retained other places of worship, both of Yahweh and of other gods.
The prophetic movement, which arose in the ninth and eighth centuries B.C., played the most important role in the gradual development of Judaism into a dogmatic religion. Sermons of the prophets were recorded beginning in the eighth century B.C. In the beginning the prophets did not insist on the universality of Yahweh but declared him a jealous god who did not permit his chosen people to worship other gods. There arose the concept of the covenant, or testament, between the tribes of Israel and Yahweh, according to which the former allegedly pledged not to worship other gods and to carry out Yahwehs wishes while Yahweh promised to give them authority over Palestine. Circumcision was declared the external sign of the covenant; actually circumcision was a rite practiced by many other peoples of the ancient East and a survival of the initiation rite that accepted a boy into the community of warriors. Some prophets protested against various manifestations of social injustice while continuing to defend the slaveholder ideology, which was universal at the time.
The destruction of the northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. and the deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrian siege in 700 B.C. were used by the prophets to spread their ideas among the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah.
The books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, which were ascribed to Moses, who, according to legend, led the Israelites during their nomadic period, were essentially composed in the ninth, eighth, and seventh centuries B.C. These books expounded the mythical past of the Israelites, in addition to their legal and ethical norms, in the spirit of the concepts of the covenant and the jealous god; the rituals and many elements of the mythological world view were taken from earlier religious traditions. The books interpreting the history of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah from the point of view of the fulfillment or nonfulfillment of Yahwehs conditions by the kings and the population also date from the eigthth, seventh, and sixth centuries B.C. By the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. the prophets already began to deny the existence of other gods except Yahweh, but there is evidence that the population continued to worship other gods as late as the fifth century B.C. A manuscript of Deuteronomy, which sums up the teachings of the prophets, was discovered when King Josiah rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem in 622 B.C. In the early fourth century B.C., Deuteronomy, together with the other four books of Moses, became known as the Pentateuch, or Torah (Law), the part of the Holy Scripture, or Bible, most revered in Judaism. Subsequently all social ills that befell the ethnic groups practicing the Judaic religion were explained by deviations from the letter of the Torah. This made for the dogmatic character of Judaism and the great importance attached to the literally exact fulfillment of the rituals prescribed by the Torah.
In 587 B.C. the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II resettled a large part of the Judahites in Babylonia and the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed. Among the resettled Judahites the prophet Ezekiel preached the restoration of Israel, but this time as a theocratic state with a new Temple in Jerusalem as its center. The state was to be founded by a descendant of King David, or the Messiah. The Iranian religion influenced the development of Judaism during the period of Babylonian captivity.
Under the Persian dynasty of the Achaemenids the Judahites were returned to Jerusalem, which had become a self-governing Temple city (sixth and fifth centuries B.C.), and a new Second Temple of Yahweh was built. But the leaders of the new religious community, Ezra and Nehemiah, did not accept into this community the Judahites who had not gone into captivity and the Israelites who had remained in Palestine, under the pretext that they had mixed with people who worshipped other gods. The rejected groups created a separate community, the Samaritans, who live in Palestine to this day. After Ezra, the isolation of the practicing Jewsunder the pretext that they are the chosen peoplebecame one of the most important dogmas of Judaism; later, however, circumcision and the fulfillment of the demands of the Torah were recognized as sufficient conditions for entering into the covenant with god, regardless of the converts origin.
In the third and second centuries B.C., a large number of Judahites were resettled by their Hellenic conquerors in Egypt, Syria, and Armenia. Judah itself, the site of a bitter class struggle, saw the rise of various currents within Judaismfor example, the Essenes, who condemned the official orientation of Judaism (the Pharisees) and preached asceticism and primitive social equality. Christianity too was originally a Judaic sect and only later became a separate religion, distinct from Judaism. However, the Christian Bible incorporated the Judaic holy books in their entirety (the Old Testament, or the ancient covenant, as distinct from the New Testament, or the Gospel).
The canon of the Holy Scriptures of Judaism was definitively established in about 100 B.C. The canon included the Torah, the Prophets (written records of religious and political speeches and historical books of a prophetic nature), and the Writings (books of a different nature recognized as conforming to the dogmas of Judaism, including the books of Ruth, Esther, and Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs). When the written canon was introduced, literacy became mandatory for all males of the Judaic religious community; this rule was retained throughout the Middle Ages.
After two uprisings against Roman rule (the Jewish War of A.D. 6673 and the Bar Kochba uprising of A.D. 132135), the Jews were banished from Jerusalem.
The most important ritual innovation of the Diaspora was the replacement of worship in the Temple, which, according to dogma, could be done only in Jerusalem, by prayer assemblies in synagogues under the leadership of rabbis, or teachers of the religious law, instead of priests; the rabbis also usually governed the civil and legal life of the members of the religious community. The religious teachings of Judaism were further elaborated by commentaries on the Bible (the Mishnah; completed by the third century A.D.) and the Gemara, a collection of legal (halakah) and folkloric (agadah) interpretations of biblical texts, often incredibly lapidary, nebulous in form, subjective, and contradictory; the Gemara and the Mishnah together form the Talmud (completed by the fifth century A.D.). The development of the religious and philosophical foundation of Judaism (especially monotheism) was influenced by Hellenistic idealist philosophy and early medieval (including Arabic) Neoplatonism and Aris-totelianism. In the 12th century Maimonides generalized the teachings of early medieval Judaism: the unity of an incorporeal and eternal god who is the creator of all things and who has revealed to man through Moses and the prophets the eternity of the Torah, the expectation of the Messiah, retribution after death for ones deeds, and resurrection of the dead.
Jews who lived in areas dominated by other dogmatic religions were subjected to legal restrictions and sometimes even to the cruelest persecution; this was true especially in the Christian countries, since Christianity blamed the Jewish religious community of the first century A.D. for the death of Jesus. At the same time the dogma of Judaism, which called for isolation of the Jews from those of other religions, made it easier for the authorities of the Christian states to create Jewish ghettos. Despite the artificial seclusion of adherents of Judaism, several medieval kingdoms, in an attempt to escape the political influence of the great Christian powers, adopted the religion (for example, the Khazar kingdom in the Volga region in the late eighth and early ninth centuries). The Karaite sect, which arose during the eighth century in Iraq, Syria, and Palestine, rejected the rabbinate and all rabbinical commentaries on the Bible. Mystical teachings spread among Jews, such as cabala, of which the most important work was the Zohar of Moses de Lon in the 13th century. The cabala also influenced later religious and philosophical Judaic literature, such as Joseph Caros Shulkhan Arukh in the 16th century, a code of ethics that regulated the life of believers down to the smallest detail.
In the 17th century a movement arose around the mystic and adventurer Sabbatai Zebi of Turkey, who had declared himself the Messiah; his movement found numerous followers among Jews of many countries, who mistakenly sought in Zebis teachings salvation from social oppression. The collapse of this movement and deterioration in the conditions of the Jews both in the ghettos of Europe and in Asia and Africa produced, on the one hand, still greater isolation from other peoples, and, on the other hand, Hasidism, a movement founded by the Baal Shem Tov in the middle of the 18th century that rejected the authority of the rabbis and preached the personal communion of the believer with god through the most pious, or zaddikim. Both movements contributed to the deprivation of civil rights of the Jews and their alienation from general democratic movements.
In the second half of the 19th century a movement for the reform of Judaism arose among Jews in Germany, the USA, and other countries. The reformers wanted to bring Judaism closer to Protestantism, in an attempt to adapt Judaism to the established bourgeois system and to place it in the service of capitalism. According to the reformers, messianism, the expectation of the restoration of the Temple, and the creation of a theocratic state in Jerusalem should be understood figuratively, as a future realization of the ethical ideals of mankind that are supposedly contained in Judaism. However, orthodox Judaism remained the dominant current among Jews, especially in the USA and in Eastern Europe.
Judaism does not recognize temples and has no ecclesiastical hierarchy; synagogues are maintained by contributions from believers (capitalists make large contributions to their maintenance). The Synagogue Council of America in the USA manages several educational institutions.
Judaism is the official religion of the state of Israel. The synagogues, like the organizations of other religions, are financed by the Ministry of Religious Affairs; the rabbinate has judicial functions in family matters, marriage, and other affairs concerning Jews.
The major holidays of Judaism are the Sabbath, when all work is prohibited, including the cooking of food and traveling; the tenth day after the lunar New Year (the day of purification, or Yom Kippur), a time of fasting and atonement; Pesach, or Passover, in the spring; Pentecost; the Festival of Booths in the fall, followed in seven or eight days by a holiday of rejoicing in the Torah. At the age of 13 a boy professing Judaism passes through the rite of bar mitzvah, which introduces him into the community of believers; at that time he must show his knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and make an appropriate speech in Hebrew. The life of people practicing Judaism is burdened by a multiplicity of archaic restrictions, rituals, and dietary taboos.
Judaism, as a religion, as well as Talmudic ritualism, prevents the Jewish working masses from understanding the true causes of social oppression. Judaism, like other religions, has always been a tool in the hands of the ruling and exploiting classes for the spiritual oppression of the working masses. Judaism has been taken over by Zionism, which is at present the official ideology of the state of Israel. Attempting to win over the masses of working Jews and to divert them from the world revolutionary labor and national liberation movements as well as to justify Israels expansionist policies, Zionism began to use the tenets of Judaism for its political aims (for example, messianism, which proposes the creation of a new, ideal Israel, with Jerusalem as its center, that would include the whole of Palestine). Since the second quarter of the 20th century Zionism has found support among the most reactionary Jews, especially in the USA. In its chauvinist and annexationist policy Zionism makes use of the Judaic dogma that the Jews are gods chosen people and employs Judaism to substantiate the concept of a worldwide Jewish nation and other reactionary positions.
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Judaism | Article about Judaism by The Free Dictionary
From Academic Kids
Judaism is the religious culture of the Jewish people. It is one of the first recorded monotheistic faiths and one of the oldest religious traditions still practiced today. The tenets and history of Judaism are the major part of the foundation of other Abrahamic religions, including Christianity and Islam. For all of these reasons, Judaism has been a major force in shaping the world.
Judaism does not easily fit into common Western categories, such as religion, race, ethnicity, or culture. This is because Jews understand Judaism in terms of its 4,000-year history. During this time, Jews have experienced slavery, anarchic self-government, theocratic self-government, conquest, occupation, and exile; they have been in contact, and have been influenced by ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Hellenic cultures, as well as modern movements such as the Enlightenment and the rise of nationalism. Thus, Daniel 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.”
According to both traditional Jews and critical historical scholars, a number of qualities distinguish Judaism from the other religions that existed when it first emerged. The first characteristic is monotheism. This notion is derived directly from the Torah (the Hebrew Bible) where God makes it part of the Ten Commandments: “…I am the Lord your God. Do not have any other gods before Me. Do not represent [such] gods by any carved statue or picture of anything in the heaven above, on the earth below, or in the water below the land. Do not bow down to [such gods] or worship them. I am God your Lord, a God who demands exclusive worship”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments#Exodus_20.2FDeuteronomy_5)
The Jewish understanding of this is that:
The significance of this idea lies in that Judaism holds that an omniscient and omnipotent God created humankind as recorded in the Book of Genesis, in the Creation according to Genesis starting with the very first verse of Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” While in polytheistic religions, the gods are limited by the preoccupation of personal desires irrelevant to humankind, by limited powers, and by the interference of other powers, in Judaism, God is unlimited and fully available to care for Creation.
Second, the Torah (i.e., The Hebrew Bible) specifies a number of laws, known as the 613 mitzvot, to be followed by the Children of Israel. Other religions at the time were characterized by temples in which priests would worship their gods through sacrifice. The Children of Israel similarly had a Temple in Jerusalem, priests, and made sacrifices but these were not the sole means of worshiping God.
As a matter of practical worship (in comparison to other religions) Judaism seeks to elevate everyday life to the level of the ancient Temples’ worship by worshipping God through the spectrum of daily activites and actions. It has traditionally maintained that this is how the individual would merit rewards in the afterlife, called gan eden (Hebrew: “Garden of Eden”) or olam haba (“World to Come”).
According to Orthodox Judaism and most religious Jews, the Biblical patriarch Abraham was the first Jew. Rabbinic literature records that he was the first to reject idolatry and preach monotheism. As a result, God promised he would have children. His first child was Ishmael and then he had Isaac, who God said would carry on his work and inherit the Land of Israel (then called Canaan), after having been exiled and redeemed. God sent the patriarch Jacob and his children to Egypt; after they eventually became enslaved, God sent Moses to redeem the Israelites from slavery. After the Exodus from Egypt, God led them to Mount Sinai and gave them the Torah, and eventually brought them to the land of Israel.
God set the descendants of Aaron, Moses’ brother, to be a priestly class within the Israelite community. They first officiated in the tabernacle (a portable house of worship), and later their descendants were in charge of worship in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Once the Jews had settled in the land of Israel, the tabernacle was planted in the city of Shiloh for over 300 years during which time God provided great men, and occasionally women, to rally the nation against attacking enemies, some of which were sent by God as a punishment for the sins of the people. This is described in the Book of Joshua and the Book of Judges. As time went on, the spiritual level of the nation declined to the point that God allowed the Philistines to capture the tabernacle in Shiloh.
The people of Israel then told Samuel the prophet that they had reached the point where they needed a permanent king like other nations had, and described in the Books of Samuel. God knew this was not best for the Jews, but acceded to this request and had Samuel appoint Saul, a great but very humble man, 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 David was established as king, he told the prophet Nathan that he would like to build a permanent temple. As a reward for his actions, God promised David that he would allow his son to build the temple and the throne would never depart from his children. David himself was not allowed to build the temple because he had been involved in many wars, making it inappropriate for him to build a temple representing peace. As a result, it was David’s son Solomon who built the first permanent temple according to God’s will, in Jerusalem. This era is described in the Books of Kings.
After Solomon’s death, the kingdom was split into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Israel had a number of kings, but after a few hundred years God allowed Assyria to conquer Israel and exile its people because of the rampant idolatry in the kingdom. The southern kingdom of Judah, whose capital was Jerusalem, home of the Temple, remained under the rulership of the house of David. However, as in the north, idolatry increased to the point that God allowed Babylonia to conquer it, destroy the Temple which had stood for 410 years and exile its people to Babylonia, with the promise that they would be redeemed after seventy years. These events are recorded in the Book of Isaiah and the Book of Jeremiah.
After seventy years the Jews were allowed back into Israel under the leadership of Ezra, and the Temple was rebuilt, as recorded in the Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah. The Second Temple stood for 420 years after which it was destroyed by the Roman general (later emperor) Titus. This is the state in which it is to remain until a descendant of David arises to restore the glory of Israel (the current existence of the Islamic Dome of the Rock is not relevent to the rabbinical view.)
The Torah given on Mount Sinai was summarized in the five books of Moses. Together with the books of the prophets it is called the Written Torah. The details and interpretation of the law, which are called the Oral Torah or oral law were originally unwritten. However as the persecutions of the Jews increased and the details were in danger of being forgotten, rabbinic tradition holds that these oral laws were recorded in the Mishnah, and the Talmud, as well as other holy books.
Although monotheism is fundamental to Rabbinic Judaism, according to many critical Bible scholars the Torah often implies that the early Israelites accepted the existence of other gods. However, they viewed their God as the Creator and the one that mankind was morally bound to worship alone. But by the Hellenic period most Jews had come to believe that their God was the only God (and thus, the God of everyone), and that the record of His revelation (the Torah) contained within it universal truths. This attitude may reflect growing Gentile interest in Judaism (some Greeks and Romans considered the Jews a most “philosophical” people because of their belief in a God that cannot be represented visually), and growing Jewish interest in Greek philosophy, which sought to establish universal truths.
Jews began to grapple with the tension between the particularism of their claim that only Jews were required to obey the Torah, and the universalism of their claim that the Torah contained universal truths. The result is a set of beliefs and practices concerning both identity, ethics, one’s relation to nature, and one’s relation to God, that privilege “difference” the difference between Jews and non-Jews; the differences between locally variable ways of practicing Judaism; a close attention to different meanings of words when interpreting texts; attempts to encode different points of view within texts, and a relative indifference to creed and dogma.
The subject of the Hebrew Bible is an account of the Israelites’ (also called Hebrews) relationship with God as reflected in their history from the beginning of time until the building of the Second Temple (ca. 350 BCE). This relationship is generally portrayed as contentious, as Jews struggle between their faith in God and their attraction for other gods, and as some Jews (most notably and directly, Abraham, Jacob — later known as Israeland Moses) struggle with God. Modern scholars also suggest that the Torah consists of a variety of inconsistent texts that were edited together in a way that calls attention to divergent accounts (see Documentary hypothesis).
While Judaism has always affirmed a number of Jewish principles of faith, it has never developed a fully binding “catechism”. It is difficult to generalize about Jewish theology because Judaism is non-creedal; that is, there is no agreed-upon dogma (set of orthodox beliefs) that most Jews believed were required of Jews. While individual Jewish rabbis, or sometimes entire groups, at times agreed upon a firm dogma, other rabbis and groups disagreed. With no central agreed-upon authority, no one formulation of Jewish principles of faith could take precedence over any other.
This approach to religious doctrine dates back at least two thousand years. For example, the ancient historian Josephus emphasized practices and traditions rather than beliefs when he describes the characteristics of an apostate (a Jew who does not follow traditional customs) and the requirements for conversion to Judaism (circumcision, and adherence to traditional customs). Despite the above, in Orthodox Judaism some principles (e.g., the Divine origin of the Torah) are considered important enough that public rebellion against them can put one in the category of “apikoros” (heretic).
Over the centuries, a number of clear formulations of Jewish principles of faith have appeared; most of them have much in common, yet they differ in certain details. A comparison of them demonstrates a wide array of tolerance for varying theological perspectives. Generally, however, the thirteen principles of faith expressed by Maimonides are considered authorative descriptions of Jewish beliefs:
Jews are often called the “People of the Book,” and Judaism has an age-old intellectual tradition focusing on text-based Torah study. The following is a basic, structured list of the central works of Jewish practice and thought. For more detail, see Rabbinic literature.
The basis of Jewish law and tradition (“halakha”) is the Torah (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 those who practice farming 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 which 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 latter recorded in written form and expanded upon by the rabbis.
Rabbinic Judaism has always held that the books of the Tanakh (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 Ha-Nasi (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 Babylon), 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 Shulkhan Arukh, largely determines Jewish religious practice up to today.
According to Jewish law, someone is considered to be a Jew if he or she was born of a Jewish mother or converted in accord with Jewish Law. (Recently, the American Reform and Reconstructionist movements have included those born of Jewish fathers and gentile mothers, if the children are raised practicing Judaism only.) All mainstream forms of Judaism today are open to sincere converts.
A Jew who ceases to practice Judaism is still considered a Jew, as is a Jew who does not accept Jewish principles of faith and becomes an agnostic or an atheist; so too with a Jew who converts to another religion. However, in the latter case, the person loses standing as a member of the Jewish community and becomes known as an apostate. In the past, family and friends were said to often formally mourn for the person, though this is rarely done today.
The question of what determines Jewish identity 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. The question is far from settled and occasionally resurfaces in Israeli politics.
Jewish philosophy refers to the conjunction between serious study of philosophy and Jewish theology. Early Jewish philosophy was influenced by the philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, and Islamic philosophy. Major Jewish philosophers include Solomon ibn Gabirol, Saadia Gaon, Maimonides, and Gersonides. Major changes occurred in response to the enlightenment (late 1700s to early 1800s) leading to the post-Enlightenment Jewish philosophers, and then modern Jewish philosophers such as Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Mordecai Kaplan, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Will Herberg, Emmanuel Levinas, Richard Rubenstein, Emil Fackenheim, and Joseph Soloveitchik.
Over the past two centuries the Jewish community has divided into a number of Jewish denominations; each has a different understanding of what principles of belief a Jew should hold, and how one should live as a Jew. Unlike Christian denominations, these doctrinal differences have not fundamentally split Jewish denominations, which continue to overlap on many issues. It would not be unusual for a Conservative Jew to attend either an Orthodox or Reform synagogue, for example.
Many religious Jews do not look at one’s denomination as a valid way of designating Jews; instead they view Jews by the level of their religious observance. According to most Orthodox Jews, Jewish people who do not keep the laws of Shabbat and Yom Tov (the holidays), Kashrut, and family purity are considered non-religious. Any Jew who keeps at least those laws would be considered observant and religious).
Even though all of these denominations exist in Israel, Israelis tend to classify Jewish identity in ways that are different than diaspora Jewry. 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” (Ortodoxi) is unpopular in Israeli discourse (among both “secular” and “religious” alike). Nevertheless, the spectrum covered by “Orthodox” in the diaspora exists in Israel, again with some important variations. The “Orthodox” spectrum in Israel is a far greater percentage of the Jewish population in Israel than in the diaspora, though how much greater is hotly debated. Various ways of measuring this percentage, each with its pros and cons, include the proportion of religiously observant Knesset members, the proportion of Jewish children enrolled in religious schools, and statistical studies on “identity”.
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 (nationalist haredi), which combines a largely haredi lifestyle with nationalist ideology.
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) Sephardic haredim. The third group is the largest, and has been the most politically active since the early 1990s.
Unlike the above denominations, which were ideological reactions that resulted from the exposure of traditional rabbinic Judaism to the radical changes of modern times, Karaite Judaism did not begin as a modern Jewish movement. The followers of Karaism believe they are the remnants of the non-Rabbinic Jewish sects of the Second Temple period, such as the Saducees, though others contend they are a sect started in the 8th and 9th centuries. The Karaites, or “Scripturalists,” accept only the Hebrew Bible and what they view as the Peshat: “Plain or Simple Meaning”; and do not accept non-biblical writings as authoritative. Some European Karaites do not see themselves as part of the Jewish community, while most do. It is interesting to note that the Nazis did not consider Karaites as Jews, and therefore Karaite communities were spared in WWII and exist to this day even in places such as Lithuania where Jewish communities were completely deveastated.
The main article Jewish views of religious pluralism describes how Judaism views other religions; it also describes how members of each of the Jewish religious denominations view the other denominations.
There are three main daily prayer services, named Shacharit, Mincha (literally: “flour-offering”) and Maariv or Arvit. All services include a number of benedictions called the Amidah or the Shemonah Esrei (“eighteen”), which on weekdays consists of nineteen blessings (one was added in the time of the Mishna, but the name remains). Another key prayer in many services is the declaration of faith, the Shema which is recited at shacharit and maariv. Most of the prayers in a traditional Jewish service can be said in solitary prayer, but Kaddish and Kedusha require a group of ten adult men (or men and women in some branches of Judaism) called a minyan (prayer quorum). There are also prayers and benedictions recited throughout the day, such as those before eating or drinking.
There are a number of common Jewish religious objects used in prayer. The tallit is a Jewish prayer shawl. A kippah or yarmulke (skullcap) is a head covering worn during prayer by most Jews, and at all times by more orthodox Jews especially Ashkenazim. Phylacteries or tefillin, boxes containing the portions of the Torah mandating them, are also worn by religious Jews during weekday morning services.
The Jewish approach to prayer differs slightly between the various branches of Judaism, although all use the same set of prayers and texts, the frequency of prayer, the number of prayers recited at various religious events, and whether one prays in a particular liturgical language or the vernacular differs from denomination to denomination, with Conservative and Orthodox congregations using more traditional services, while Reform and Reconstructionist synagogues are more likely to incorporate translations, contemporary writings, and abbreviated services.
Shabbat, the weekly day of rest lasting from Friday night to Saturday night, celebrates God’s creation as a day of rest that commemorates God’s day of rest upon the completion of creation. It plays an important role in Jewish practice and is the subject of a large body of religious law. Some consider it the most important Jewish holiday.
The Jewish holy days celebrate central themes in the relationship between God and the world, such as creation, revelation, and redemption. Some holidays are also linked to the agricultural cycle.
Three holidays celebrate revelation by commemorating different events in the passage of the Children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt to their return to the land of Canaan. They are also timed to coincide with important agricultural seasons. They are also pilgramage holidays, for which the Children of Israel would journey to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to God in His Temple.
There are many minor holidays as well, including Purim, which celebrates the events told in the Biblical book of Esther, and Chanukkah, which is not established in the Bible but which celebrates the successful rebellion by the Maccabees against the Seleucid Empire.
The core of festival and Sabbath prayer services is the public reading of the Torah, along with connected readings from the other books of the Jewish Bible, called Haftarah. During the course of a year, the full Torah is read, and the cycle begins again every autumn during Simhat Torah (?rejoicing in the Torah?).
The laws of kashrut (“keeping kosher”) are the Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with Jewish law is termed kosher, and food not in accord with Jewish law is termed treifah or treif. From the context of the laws in the book of Leviticus, the purpose of kashrut is related to ritual purity and holiness. Reform and Reconstructionist Jews do not keep kosher, Orthodox Jews and some Conservative Jews do keep kosher, to varying degrees of strictness.
The laws of niddah (“menstruant”, often referred to euphemistically as “family purity”) and various other laws regulating the interaction between men and women (e.g., tzeniut, modesty in dress) are perceived, especially by Orthodox Jews, as vital factors in Jewish life.
The laws of niddah dictate that sexual cannot take place while the woman is having a menstrual flow, and she has to count seven “clean” days and immerse in a mikvah (ritual bath).
Life-cycle events occur throughout a Jew’s life that bind him/her to the entire community.
Judaism does not have a clergy, in the sense of full-time specialists required for religious services. Technically, the last time Judaism had a clergy was prior to 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 clerical duties, they are still honored in many Jewish communities.
From the times of the Mishna and Talmud to the present, Judaism has required specialists or authorities for the practice of very few rituals or ceremonies. A Jew can fulfil 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 adults (Orthodox Jews and some Conservative Jews require ten adult men; some Conservative Jews and Reform Jews include women in the minyan).
The most common professional clergy in a synagogue are:
Jewish prayer services do involve two specified roles, which are often, but not always, filled by a rabbi and/or hazzan in many congregations:
Note that these roles are not mutually exclusive. The same person is often qualified to fill more than one role, and often does.
Many congregations, especially larger ones, also rely on a:
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 koreh, and this is still typically the case in most Conservative and Reform congregations. However, in most Orthodox synagogues these positions are filled by laypeople.
Jewish history is an extensive topic; this section will cover the elements of Jewish history of most importance to the Jewish religion and the development of Jewish denominations.
Jews trace their religious lineage to the biblical patriarch Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. After the Exodus from Egypt, the Jews came to Canaan, and settled the land. A kingdom 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 Shalmaneser V in the 8th century BCE and spread all over the Assyrian empire, where they were assimilated into other cultures and become known as the Ten Lost Tribes. 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 centre of ancient Jewish worship. The Judean elite was exiled to Babylonia, but later at least a part 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.
After a Jewish revolt against Roman rule in 66 CE, the Romans all but destroyed Jerusalem; only a single “Western Wall” of the Second Temple remained. Following a second revolt, Jews were not allowed to enter the city of Jerusalem and most Jewish worship was forbidden by Rome. Following the destruction of Jerusalem and the expulsion of the Jews, Jewish worship stopped being centrally organized around the Temple, and instead was rebuilt around rabbis who acted as teachers and leaders of individual communities. No new books were added to the Jewish Bible after the Roman period, instead major efforts went into interpreting and developing Jewish law.
Around the first 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”).
Some Jews in the 8th and 9th centuries adopted the Sadducees’ rejection of the oral law of the Pharisees/rabbis recorded in the Mishnah (and developed by later rabbis in the two Talmuds), intending to rely 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 time Jews developed into distinct ethnic groups amongst others, the Ashkenazi Jews (of Central and Eastern Europe with Russia); the Sephardi Jews (of Spain, Portugal, and North Africa) and the Yemenite Jews, from the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula. This split is cultural, and is not based on any doctrinal dispute, although the distance did result in minor differences in practice and prayers.
Hasidic Judaism was founded by Israel ben Eliezer (1700-1760), also known as the Ba’al Shem Tov (or Besht). 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.
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 mitnagdim, (lit. “opponents”). Some of the reasons for the rejection of Hasidic Judaism were the overwhelming exuberance of Hasidic worship; their untraditional ascriptions of infallibility and alleged miracle-working to their leaders, and the concern that it might become a messianic sect. Since then all the sects of Hasidic Judaism have been subsumed into mainstream Orthodox Judaism, particularly Haredi Judaism.
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, 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. The thrust and counter-thrust between supporters of Haskalah and more traditional Jewish concepts eventually led to the formation of a number of different branches of Judaism: Haskalah supporters founded Reform Judaism and Liberal Judaism, while traditionalists founded many forms of Orthodox Judaism, and Jews seeking a balance between the two sides founded Conservative Judaism. A number of smaller groups came into being as well.
While the Holocaust did not immediately affect Jewish denominations, its great loss of life caused a radical demographic shift, ultimately affecting the makeup of organized Judaism the way it is today. A Jewish day of mourning, Yom HaShoah, was inserted into the Jewish calendar, commemorating the Holocaust.
In most Western nations, such as the United States of America, Israel, Canada, United Kingdom and South Africa, a wide variety of Jewish practices exist, along with a growing plurality of secular and non-practicing Jews. For example, in the world’s largest Jewish community, the United States, according to the 2001 National Jewish Population Survey(http://www.ujc.org/content_display.html?ArticleID=83784), 4.3 million out of 5.1 million Jews 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.
Religious (and secular) Jewish movements in the USA and Canada perceive this as a crisis situation, and have grave concern over rising rates of intermarriage and assimilation in the Jewish community. Since American Jews are marrying at a later time in their life than they used to, and are having fewer children than they used, the birth rate for American Jews has dropped from over 2.0 down to 1.7 (the replacement rate is 2.1). (This is My Beloved, This is My Friend: A Rabbinic Letter on Intimate relations, p. 27, Elliot N. Dorff, The Rabbinical Assembly, 1996). Intermarriage rates range from 40-50% in the US, and only about a third of children of intermarried couples are raised Jewish. 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 population masks the diversity of current Jewish religious practice, as well as growth trends among some communities, like haredi Jews.
In the last 50 years there has been a general increase in interest in religion among many segments of the Jewish population. All of the major Jewish denominations have experienced a resurgence in popularity, with increasing numbers of younger Jews participating in Jewish education, joining synagogues, and becoming (to varying degrees) more observant. Complementing the increased popularity of the major denominations has been a number of new approaches to Jewish worship, including feminist approaches to Judaism and Jewish renewal movements. There is a separate article on the Baal teshuva movement, the movement of Jews returning to observant Judaism. Though this gain has not offset the general demographic loss due to intermarriage and acculturation, many Jewish communities and movements are growing.
There are a number of articles on the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. These articles include:
Since the Holocaust, there has been much to note in the way of reconciliation between some Christian groups and the Jewish people; the article on Christian-Jewish reconciliation studies this issue.
Messianic Judaism (sometimes Hebrew Christianity) is the common designation for a number of Christian groups which include varying degrees of Jewish practice. These groups have attracted tens (and perhaps hundreds) of thousands of Jews and Christians to their ranks; members identify themselves as Jews. These groups are viewed highly negatively by all Jewish denominations, which typically see them as covert and deceptive attempts to convert Jews to Christianity, a view Messianic-Jewish groups strongly contest.
Some Jews have joined other faiths, such as Judeo-Paganism and neo-paganism. Some adherents to those movements identify themselves as Jews nonetheless.
Under Islamic rule, Judaism has been practiced for almost 1500 years and this has led to an interplay between the two religions which has been positive as well as negative at times. The period around 900 to 1200 in Moorish Spain came to be known as the Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain.
The 20th century animosity of Muslim leaders towards Zionism, the political movement of Jewish self-determination, has led to a renewed interest in the relationship between Judaism and Islam.
Other relevant material:
Judaism – Academic Kids
Ashkenazi Jews ( Y’hudey Ashkenaz in Ashkenazi Hebrew) Total population 1011.2 million Regions with significant populations United States 56 million Israel 2.8 million Russia 194,000500,000 Argentina 300,000 United Kingdom ~ 260,000 Canada ~ 240,000 France 200,000 Germany 200,000 Ukraine 150,000 Australia 120,000 South Africa 80,000 Belarus 80,000 Hungary 75,000 Chile 70,000 Belgium 30,000 Brazil 30,000 Netherlands 30,000 Moldova 30,000 Poland 25,000 Mexico 18,500 Sweden 18,000 Latvia 10,000 Romania 10,000 Austria 9,000 New Zealand 5,000 Azerbaijan 4,300 Lithuania 4,000 Czech Republic 3,000 Slovakia 3,000 Estonia 1,000 Languages Historical: Yiddish Modern: Local languages, primarily: English, Hebrew, Russian Religion Judaism, some secular, irreligious Related ethnic groups Sephardi Jews, Mizrahi Jews, other Jewish ethnic divisions, Samaritans,Assyrians,Kurds,Arabs, other Levantines,Italians, Iberians and Greeks
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or simply Ashkenazim (Hebrew: , Ashkenazi Hebrew pronunciation: [aknazim], singular: [aknazi], Modern Hebrew: [akenazim, akenazi]; also Y’hudey Ashkenaz, lit. “The Jews of Germany”), are a Jewish ethnic division whose ethnogenesis and emergence as a distinct community of Jews coalesced in the Holy Roman Empire around the end of the 1st millennium. The traditional language of Ashkenazi Jews consisted of various dialects of Yiddish.
They established communities throughout Central and Eastern Europe, which had been their primary region of concentration and residence until recent times, evolving their own distinctive characteristics and diasporic identities. Once emancipated, weaving Jewish creativity into the texture of European life (Hannah Arendt), the Ashkenazi made a “quite disproportionate and remarkable contribution to humanity” (Eric Hobsbawm), and to European culture in all fields of endeavour: philosophy, scholarship, literature, art, music and science. The genocidal impact of the Holocaust, the mass murder of approximately 6 million Jews during World War II devastated the Ashkenazi and their Yiddish culture, affecting almost every Jewish family.
It is estimated that in the 11th century Ashkenazi Jews composed only three percent of the world’s Jewish population, while at their peak in 1931 they accounted for 92 percent of the world’s Jews. Immediately prior to the Holocaust, the number of Jews in the world stood at approximately 16.7 million. Statistical figures vary for the contemporary demography of Ashkenazi Jews, oscillating between 10 million and 11.2 million.Sergio DellaPergola in a rough calculation of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, implies that Ashkenazi make up less than 74% of Jews worldwide. Other estimates place Ashkenazi Jews as making up about 75% of Jews worldwide.
Genetic studies on Ashkenazim have been conducted to determine how much of their ancestry comes from the Levant, and how much derives from European populations. These studiesresearching both their paternal and maternal lineagespoint to a significant prevalence of ancient Levantine origins. But they have arrived at diverging conclusions regarding both the degree and the sources of their European ancestry. These diverging conclusions focus particularly on the extent of the European genetic origin observed in Ashkenazi maternal lineages.
The name Ashkenazi derives from the biblical figure of Ashkenaz, the first son of Gomer, son of Khaphet, son of Noah, and a Japhetic patriarch in the Table of Nations (Genesis 10). The name of Gomer has often been linked to the ethnonym Cimmerians. Biblical Ashkenaz is usually derived from Assyrian Akza (cuneiform Akuzai/Ikuzai), a people who expelled the Cimmerians from the Armenian area of the Upper Euphrates, whose name is usually associated with the name of the Scythians. The intrusive n in the Biblical name is likely due to a scribal error confusing a waw with a nun .
In Jeremiah 51:27, Ashkenaz figures as one of three kingdoms in the far north, the others being Minni and Ararat, perhaps corresponding to Urartu, called on by God to resist Babylon.
In the Yoma tractate of the Babylonian Talmud the name Gomer is rendered as Germania, which elsewhere in rabbinical literature was identified with Germanikia in northwestern Syria, but later became associated with Germania. Ashkenaz is linked to Scandza/Scanzia, viewed as the cradle of Germanic tribes, as early as a 6th-century gloss to the Historia Ecclesiastica of Eusebius. In the 10th-century History of Armenia of Yovhannes Drasxanakertc’i (1.15) Ashkenaz was associated with Armenia, as it was occasionally in Jewish usage, where its denotation extended at times to Adiabene, Khazaria, Crimea and areas to the east. His contemporary Saadia Gaon identified Ashkenaz with the Saquliba or Slavic territories, and such usage covered also the lands of tribes neighboring the Slavs, and Eastern and Central Europe. In modern times, Samuel Krauss identified the Biblical “Ashkenaz” with Khazaria.
Sometime in the early medieval period, the Jews of central and eastern Europe came to be called by this term. In conformity with the custom of designating areas of Jewish settlement with biblical names, Spain was denominated Sefarad (Obadiah 20), France was called Tsarefat (1 Kings 17:9), and Bohemia was called the Land of Canaan. By the high medieval period, Talmudic commentators like Rashi began to use Ashkenaz/Eretz Ashkenaz to designate Germany, earlier known as Loter, where, especially in the Rhineland communities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz, the most important Jewish communities arose. Rashi uses leshon Ashkenaz (Ashkenazi language) to describe German speech, and Byzantium and Syrian Jewish letters referred to the Crusaders as Ashkenazim. Given the close links between the Jewish communities of France and Germany following the Carolingian unification, the term Ashkenazi came to refer to both the Jews of medieval Germany and France.
The origins of the Ashkenazim are obscure, and many theories have arisen speculating about their ultimate provenance. The most well supported theory is the one that details a Jewish migration through what is now Italy and other parts of southern Europe. The historical record attests to Jewish communities in southern Europe since pre-Christian times. Many Jews were denied full Roman citizenship until 212 CE, when Emperor Caracalla granted all free peoples this privilege. Jews were required to pay a poll tax until the reign of Emperor Julian in 363. In the late Roman Empire, Jews were free to form networks of cultural and religious ties and enter into various local occupations. But, after Christianity became the official religion of Rome and Constantinople in 380, Jews were increasingly marginalized.
The history of Jews in Greece goes back to at least the Archaic Era of Greece, when the classical culture of Greece was undergoing a process of formalization after the Greek Dark Age. The Greek historian Herodotus knew of the Jews, whom he called “Palestinian Syrians”, and listed them among the levied naval forces in service of the invading Persians. While Jewish monotheism was not deeply affected by Greek Polytheism, the Greek way of living was attractive for many wealthier Jews. The Synagogue in the Agora of Athens is dated to the period between 267 and 396 CE. The Stobi Synagogue in Macedonia, was built on the ruins of a more ancient synagogue in the 4th century, while later in the 5th century, the synagogue was transformed into Christian basilica.
Sporadicepigraphic evidence in grave site excavations, particularly in Brigetio (Szny), Aquincum (buda), Intercisa (Dunajvros), Triccinae (Srvr), Savaria (Szombathely), Sopianae (Pcs), and Osijek in Croatia, attest to the presence of Jews after the 2nd and 3rd centuries where Roman garrisons were established, There was a sufficient number of Jews in Pannonia to form communities and build a synagogue. Jewish troops were among the Syrian soldiers transferred there, and replenished from the Middle East, after 175 C.E. Jews and especially Syrians came from Antioch, Tarsus and Cappadocia. Others came from Italy and the Hellenized parts of the Roman empire. The excavations suggest they first lived in isolated enclaves attached to Roman legion camps, and intermarried among other similar oriental families within the military orders of the region.Raphael Patai states that later Roman writers remarked that they differed little in either customs, manner of writing, or names from the people among whom they dwelt; and it was especially difficult to differentiate Jews from the Syrians. After Pannonia was ceded to the Huns in 433, the garrison populations were withdrawn to Italy, and only a few, enigmatic traces remain of a possible Jewish presence in the area some centuries later.
No evidence has yet been found of a Jewish presence in antiquity in Germany beyond its Roman border, nor in Eastern Europe. In Gaul and Germany itself, with the possible exception of Trier and Cologne, the archeological evidence suggests at most a fleeting presence of very few Jews, primarily itinerant traders or artisans. A substantial Jewish population emerged in northern Gaul by the Middle Ages, but Jewish communities existed in 465 CE in Brittany, in 524 CE in Valence, and in 533 CE in Orleans. Throughout this period and into the early Middle Ages, some Jews assimilated into the dominant Greek and Latin cultures, mostly through conversion to Christianity.[bettersourceneeded] King Dagobert I of the Franks expelled the Jews from his Merovingian kingdom in 629. Jews in former Roman territories faced new challenges as harsher anti-Jewish Church rulings were enforced.
Charlemagne’s expansion of the Frankish empire around 800, including northern Italy and Rome, brought on a brief period of stability and unity in Francia. This created opportunities for Jewish merchants to settle again north of the Alps. Charlemagne granted the Jews freedoms similar to those once enjoyed under the Roman Empire. In addition, Jews from southern Italy, fleeing religious persecution, began to move into central Europe. Returning to Frankish lands, many Jewish merchants took up occupations in finance and commerce, including money lending, or usury. (Church legislation banned Christians from lending money in exchange for interest.) From Charlemagne’s time to the present, Jewish life in northern Europe is well documented. By the 11th century, when Rashi of Troyes wrote his commentaries, Jews in what came to be known as “Ashkenaz” were known for their halakhic learning, and Talmudic studies. They were criticized by Sephardim and other Jewish scholars in Islamic lands for their lack of expertise in Jewish jurisprudence (dinim) and general ignorance of Hebrew linguistics and literature.Yiddish emerged as a result of language contact with various High German vernaculars in the medieval period. It was written with Hebrew letters, and heavily influenced by Hebrew and Aramaic.
Historical records show evidence of Jewish communities north of the Alps and Pyrenees as early as the 8th and 9th century. By the 11th century Jewish settlers, moving from southern European and Middle Eastern centers, appear to have begun to settle in the north, especially along the Rhine, often in response to new economic opportunities and at the invitation of local Christian rulers. Thus Baldwin V, Count of Flanders, invited Jacob ben Yekutiel and his fellow Jews to settle in his lands; and soon after the Norman Conquest of England, William the Conqueror likewise extended a welcome to continental Jews to take up residence there. Bishop Rdiger Huzmann called on the Jews of Mainz to relocate to Speyer. In all of these decisions, the idea that Jews had the know-how and capacity to jump-start the economy, improve revenues, and enlarge trade seems to have played a prominent role. Typically Jews relocated close to the markets and churches in town centres, where, though they came under the authority of both royal and ecclesiastical powers, they were accorded administrative autonomy.
In the 11th century, both Rabbinic Judaism and the culture of the Babylonian Talmud that underlies it became established in southern Italy and then spread north to Ashkenaz.
With the onset of the Crusades in 1095, and the expulsions from England (1290), France (1394), and parts of Germany (15th century), Jewish migration pushed eastward into Poland (10th century), Lithuania (10th century), and Russia (12th century). Over this period of several hundred years, some have suggested, Jewish economic activity was focused on trade, business management, and financial services, due to several presumed factors: Christian European prohibitions restricting certain activities by Jews, preventing certain financial activities (such as “usurious” loans) between Christians, high rates of literacy, near universal male education, and ability of merchants to rely upon and trust family members living in different regions and countries.
By the 15th century, the Ashkenazi Jewish communities in Poland were the largest Jewish communities of the Diaspora. This area, which eventually fell under the domination of Russia, Austria, and Prussia (Germany), would remain the main center of Ashkenazi Jewry until the Holocaust.
The answer to why there was so little assimilation of Jews in central and eastern Europe for so long would seem to lie in part in the probability that the alien surroundings in central and eastern Europe were not conducive, though contempt did not prevent some assimilation. Furthermore, Jews lived almost exclusively in shtetls, maintained a strong system of education for males, heeded rabbinic leadership, and scorned the life-style of their neighbors; and all of these tendencies increased with every outbreak of antisemitism.
In the first half of the 11th century, Hai Gaon refers to questions that had been addressed to him from Ashkenaz, by which he undoubtedly means Germany. Rashi in the latter half of the 11th century refers to both the language of Ashkenaz and the country of Ashkenaz. During the 12th century, the word appears quite frequently. In the Mahzor Vitry, the kingdom of Ashkenaz is referred to chiefly in regard to the ritual of the synagogue there, but occasionally also with regard to certain other observances.
In the literature of the 13th century, references to the land and the language of Ashkenaz often occur. Examples include Solomon ben Aderet’s Responsa (vol. i., No. 395); the Responsa of Asher ben Jehiel (pp.4, 6); his Halakot (Berakot i. 12, ed. Wilna, p.10); the work of his son Jacob ben Asher, Tur Orach Chayim (chapter 59); the Responsa of Isaac ben Sheshet (numbers 193, 268, 270).
In the Midrash compilation, Genesis Rabbah, Rabbi Berechiah mentions Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah as German tribes or as German lands. It may correspond to a Greek word that may have existed in the Greek dialect of the Palestinian Jews, or the text is corrupted from “Germanica.” This view of Berechiah is based on the Talmud (Yoma 10a; Jerusalem Talmud Megillah 71b), where Gomer, the father of Ashkenaz, is translated by Germamia, which evidently stands for Germany, and which was suggested by the similarity of the sound.
In later times, the word Ashkenaz is used to designate southern and western Germany, the ritual of which sections differs somewhat from that of eastern Germany and Poland. Thus the prayer-book of Isaiah Horowitz, and many others, give the piyyutim according to the Minhag of Ashkenaz and Poland.
According to 16th-century mystic Rabbi Elijah of Chelm, Ashkenazi Jews lived in Jerusalem during the 11th century. The story is told that a German-speaking Palestinian Jew saved the life of a young German man surnamed Dolberger. So when the knights of the First Crusade came to siege Jerusalem, one of Dolberger’s family members who was among them rescued Jews in Palestine and carried them back to Worms to repay the favor. Further evidence of German communities in the holy city comes in the form of halakhic questions sent from Germany to Jerusalem during the second half of the 11th century.
In an essay on Sephardi Jewry, Daniel Elazar at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs summarized the demographic history of Ashkenazi Jews in the last thousand years, noting that at the end of the 11th century, 97% of world Jewry was Sephardic and 3% Ashkenazi; by the end of XVI century, the: ‘Treaty on the redemption of captives’, by Gracian of the God’s Mother, Mercy Priest, who was imprisoned by Turks, cites a Tunisian Hebrew, made captive when arriving to Gaeta, who aided others with money, named: ‘Simon Escanasi’, in the mid-17th century, “Sephardim still outnumbered Ashkenazim three to two”, but by the end of the 18th century, “Ashkenazim outnumbered Sephardim three to two, the result of improved living conditions in Christian Europe versus the Ottoman Muslim world.” By 1931, Ashkenazi Jews accounted for nearly 92% of world Jewry. These factors are sheer demography showing the migration patterns of Jews from Southern and Western Europe to Central and Eastern Europe.
In 1740 a family from Lithuania became the first Ashkenazi Jews to settle in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.
The generations of after emigration from the west enjoyed a comparatively stable socio-political environment in places like Poland, Russia, and Belarus. A thriving publishing industry and the printing of hundreds of biblical commentaries precipitated the development of the Hasidic movement as well as major Jewish academic centers. After two centuries of comparative tolerance in the new nations, massive westward emigration occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries in response to pogroms in the east and the economic opportunities offered in other parts of the world. Ashkenazi Jews have made up the majority of the American Jewish community since 1750.
Ashkenazi cultural growth led to the Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment, with its goal of integrating modern European values into Jewish life.Zionism was also developed in modern Europe.
Of the estimated 8.8 million Jews living in Europe at the beginning of World War II, the majority of whom were Ashkenazi, about 6 million more than two-thirds were systematically murdered in the Holocaust. These included 3 million of 3.3 million Polish Jews (91%); 900,000 of 1.5 million in Ukraine (60%); and 5090% of the Jews of other Slavic nations, Germany, Hungary, and the Baltic states, and over 25% of the Jews in France. Sephardi communities suffered similar depletions in a few countries, including Greece, the Netherlands and the former Yugoslavia. As the large majority of the victims were Ashkenazi Jews, their percentage dropped from nearly 92% of world Jewry in 1931 to nearly 80% of world Jewry today. The Holocaust also effectively put an end to the dynamic development of the Yiddish language in the previous decades, as the vast majority of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, around 5 million, were Yiddish speakers. Many of the surviving Ashkenazi Jews emigrated to countries such as Israel, Canada, Argentina, Australia, and the United States after the war.
Following the Holocaust, some sources place Ashkenazim today as making up approximately 8385 percent of Jews worldwide, while Sergio DellaPergola in a rough calculation of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, implies that Ashkenazi make up a notably lower figure, less than 74%. Other estimates place Ashkenazi Jews as making up about 75% of Jews worldwide. Ashkenazi Jews constitute around 3536% of Israel’s total population, or 47.5% of Israel’s Jewish population.
In Israel, the term Ashkenazi is now used in a manner unrelated to its original meaning, often applied to all Jews who settled in Europe and sometimes including those whose ethnic background is actually Sephardic. Jews of any non-Ashkenazi background, including Mizrahi, Yemenite, Kurdish and others who have no connection with the Iberian Peninsula, have similarly come to be lumped together as Sephardic. Jews of mixed background are increasingly common, partly because of intermarriage between Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi, and partly because many do not see such historic markers as relevant to their life experiences as Jews.
Religious Ashkenazi Jews living in Israel are obliged to follow the authority of the chief Ashkenazi rabbi in halakhic matters. In this respect, a religiously Ashkenazi Jew is an Israeli who is more likely to support certain religious interests in Israel, including certain political parties. These political parties result from the fact that a portion of the Israeli electorate votes for Jewish religious parties; although the electoral map changes from one election to another, there are generally several small parties associated with the interests of religious Ashkenazi Jews. The role of religious parties, including small religious parties that play important roles as coalition members, results in turn from Israel’s composition as a complex society in which competing social, economic, and religious interests stand for election to the Knesset, a unicameral legislature with 120 seats.
People of Ashkenazi descent constitute around 47.5% of Israeli Jews (and therefore 3536% of Israelis). They have played a prominent role in the economy, media, and politics of Israel since its founding. During the first decades of Israel as a state, strong cultural conflict occurred between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews (mainly east European Ashkenazim). The roots of this conflict, which still exists to a much smaller extent in present-day Israeli society, are chiefly attributed to the concept of the “melting pot”. That is to say, all Jewish immigrants who arrived in Israel were strongly encouraged to “melt down” their own particular exilic identities within the general social “pot” in order to become Israeli.
The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbis in the Yishuv and Israel include:
Religious Jews have Minhagim, customs, in addition to Halakha, or religious law, and different interpretations of law. Different groups of religious Jews in different geographic areas historically adopted different customs and interpretations. On certain issues, Orthodox Jews are required to follow the customs of their ancestors, and do not believe they have the option of picking and choosing. For this reason, observant Jews at times find it important for religious reasons to ascertain who their household’s religious ancestors are in order to know what customs their household should follow. These times include, for example, when two Jews of different ethnic background marry, when a non-Jew converts to Judaism and determines what customs to follow for the first time, or when a lapsed or less observant Jew returns to traditional Judaism and must determine what was done in his or her family’s past. In this sense, “Ashkenazic” refers both to a family ancestry and to a body of customs binding on Jews of that ancestry. Reform Judaism, which does not necessarily follow those minhagim, did nonetheless originate among Ashkenazi Jews.
In a religious sense, an Ashkenazi Jew is any Jew whose family tradition and ritual follows Ashkenazi practice. Until the Ashkenazi community first began to develop in the Early Middle Ages, the centers of Jewish religious authority were in the Islamic world, at Baghdad and in Islamic Spain. Ashkenaz (Germany) was so distant geographically that it developed a minhag of its own. Ashkenazi Hebrew came to be pronounced in ways distinct from other forms of Hebrew.
In this respect, the counterpart of Ashkenazi is Sephardic, since most non-Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews follow Sephardic rabbinical authorities, whether or not they are ethnically Sephardic. By tradition, a Sephardic or Mizrahi woman who marries into an Orthodox or Haredi Ashkenazi Jewish family raises her children to be Ashkenazi Jews; conversely an Ashkenazi woman who marries a Sephardi or Mizrahi man is expected to take on Sephardic practice and the children inherit a Sephardic identity, though in practice many families compromise. A convert generally follows the practice of the beth din that converted him or her. With the integration of Jews from around the world in Israel, North America, and other places, the religious definition of an Ashkenazi Jew is blurring, especially outside Orthodox Judaism.
New developments in Judaism often transcend differences in religious practice between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. In North American cities, social trends such as the chavurah movement, and the emergence of “post-denominational Judaism” often bring together younger Jews of diverse ethnic backgrounds. In recent years, there has been increased interest in Kabbalah, which many Ashkenazi Jews study outside of the Yeshiva framework. Another trend is the new popularity of ecstatic worship in the Jewish Renewal movement and the Carlebach style minyan, both of which are nominally of Ashkenazi origin.
Culturally, an Ashkenazi Jew can be identified by the concept of Yiddishkeit, which means “Jewishness” in the Yiddish language.Yiddishkeit is specifically the Jewishness of Ashkenazi Jews. Before the Haskalah and the emancipation of Jews in Europe, this meant the study of Torah and Talmud for men, and a family and communal life governed by the observance of Jewish Law for men and women. From the Rhineland to Riga to Romania, most Jews prayed in liturgical Ashkenazi Hebrew, and spoke Yiddish in their secular lives. But with modernization, Yiddishkeit now encompasses not just Orthodoxy and Hasidism, but a broad range of movements, ideologies, practices, and traditions in which Ashkenazi Jews have participated and somehow retained a sense of Jewishness. Although a far smaller number of Jews still speak Yiddish, Yiddishkeit can be identified in manners of speech, in styles of humor, in patterns of association. Broadly speaking, a Jew is one who associates culturally with Jews, supports Jewish institutions, reads Jewish books and periodicals, attends Jewish movies and theater, travels to Israel, visits ancient synagogues in Prague, and so forth. It is a definition that applies to Jewish culture in general, and to Ashkenazi Yiddishkeit in particular.
As Ashkenazi Jews moved away from Europe, mostly in the form of aliyah to Israel, or immigration to North America, and other English-speaking areas; and Europe (particularly France) and Latin America, the geographic isolation that gave rise to Ashkenazim has given way to mixing with other cultures, and with non-Ashkenazi Jews who, similarly, are no longer isolated in distinct geographic locales. Hebrew has replaced Yiddish as the primary Jewish language for many Ashkenazi Jews, although many Hasidic and Hareidi groups continue to use Yiddish in daily life. (There are numerous Ashkenazi Jewish anglophones and Russian-speakers as well, although English and Russian are not originally Jewish languages.)
France’s blended Jewish community is typical of the cultural recombination that is going on among Jews throughout the world. Although France expelled its original Jewish population in the Middle Ages, by the time of the French Revolution, there were two distinct Jewish populations. One consisted of Sephardic Jews, originally refugees from the Inquisition and concentrated in the southwest, while the other community was Ashkenazi, concentrated in formerly German Alsace, and speaking mainly Yiddish. The two communities were so separate and different that the National Assembly emancipated them separately in 1790 and 1791.
But after emancipation, a sense of a unified French Jewry emerged, especially when France was wracked by the Dreyfus affair in the 1890s. In the 1920s and 1930s, Ashkenazi Jews from Europe arrived in large numbers as refugees from antisemitism, the Russian revolution, and the economic turmoil of the Great Depression. By the 1930s, Paris had a vibrant Yiddish culture, and many Jews were involved in diverse political movements. After the Vichy years and the Holocaust, the French Jewish population was augmented once again, first by Ashkenazi refugees from Central Europe, and later by Sephardi immigrants and refugees from North Africa, many of them francophone.
Then, in the 1990s, yet another Ashkenazi Jewish wave began to arrive from countries of the former Soviet Union and Central Europe. The result is a pluralistic Jewish community that still has some distinct elements of both Ashkenazi and Sephardic culture. But in France, it is becoming much more difficult to sort out the two, and a distinctly French Jewishness has emerged.
In an ethnic sense, an Ashkenazi Jew is one whose ancestry can be traced to the Jews who settled in Central Europe. For roughly a thousand years, the Ashkenazim were a reproductively isolated population in Europe, despite living in many countries, with little inflow or outflow from migration, conversion, or intermarriage with other groups, including other Jews. Human geneticists have argued that genetic variations have been identified that show high frequencies among Ashkenazi Jews, but not in the general European population, be they for patrilineal markers (Y-chromosome haplotypes) and for matrilineal markers (mitotypes). However, a 2013 study of Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA, from the University of Huddersfield in England, suggests that at least 80 percent of the Ashkenazi maternal lineages derive from the assimilation of mtDNAs indigenous to Europe, probably as a consequence of conversion.
Since the middle of the 20th century, many Ashkenazi Jews have intermarried, both with members of other Jewish communities and with people of other nations and faiths, while some Jews have also adopted children from other ethnic groups or from other parts of the world and have raised them as Jews. Conversion to Judaism, rare for nearly 2,000 years, has become more common.
A 2006 study found Ashkenazi Jews to be a clear, homogeneous genetic subgroup. Strikingly, regardless of the place of origin, Ashkenazi Jews can be grouped in the same genetic cohort that is, regardless of whether an Ashkenazi Jew’s ancestors came from Poland, Russia, Hungary, Lithuania, or any other place with a historical Jewish population, they belong to the same ethnic group. The research demonstrates the endogamy of the Jewish population in Europe and lends further credence to the idea of Ashkenazi Jews as an ethnic group. Moreover, though intermarriage among Jews of Ashkenazi descent has become increasingly common, many Haredi Jews, particularly members of Hasidic or Hareidi sects, continue to marry exclusively fellow Ashkenazi Jews. This trend keeps Ashkenazi genes prevalent and also helps researchers further study the genes of Ashkenazi Jews with relative ease. It is noteworthy that these Haredi Jews often have extremely large families.
The Halakhic practices of (Orthodox) Ashkenazi Jews may differ from those of Sephardi Jews, particularly in matters of custom. Differences are noted in the Shulkhan Arukh itself, in the gloss of Moses Isserles. Well known differences in practice include:
The term Ashkenazi also refers to the nusach Ashkenaz (Hebrew, “liturgical tradition”, or rite) used by Ashkenazi Jews in their Siddur (prayer book). A nusach is defined by a liturgical tradition’s choice of prayers, order of prayers, text of prayers and melodies used in the singing of prayers. Two other major forms of nusach among Ashkenazic Jews are Nusach Sefard (not to be confused with Sephardi), which is the same as the general Polish (Hasidic) Nusach; and Nusach Chabad, otherwise known as Lubavitch Chasidic, Nusach Arizal or Nusach Ari.
This phrase is often used in contrast with Sephardi Jews, also called Sephardim, who are descendants of Jews from Spain and Portugal. There are some differences in how the two groups pronounce certain Hebrew letters and in points of ritual.
Several famous people have Ashkenazi as a surname, such as Vladimir Ashkenazy. However, most people with this surname hail from within Sephardic communities, particularly from the Syrian Jewish community. The Sephardic carriers of the surname would have some Ashkenazi ancestors since the surname was adopted by families who were initially of Ashkenazic origins who move to Sephardi countries and joined those communities. Ashkenazi would be formally adopted as the family surname having started off as a nickname imposed by their adopted communities. Some have shortened the name to Ash.
Relations between Ashkenazim and Sephardim have not always been warm. North African Sepharadim and Berber Jews were often looked upon by Ashkenazim as second-class citizens during the first decade after the creation of Israel. This has led to protest movements such as the Israeli Black Panthers led by Saadia Marciano a Moroccan Jew. Nowadays, relations are getting better. In some instances, Ashkenazi communities have accepted significant numbers of Sephardi newcomers, sometimes resulting in intermarriage.
Ashkenazi Jews have a noted history of achievement in Western societies in the fields of exact and social sciences, literature, finance, politics, media, and others. In those societies where they have been free to enter any profession, they have a record of high occupational achievement, entering professions and fields of commerce where higher education is required. Ashkenazi Jews have won a large number of the Nobel awards. While they make up about 2% of the U.S. population, 27% of United States Nobel prize winners in the 20th century, a quarter of Fields Medal winners, 25% of ACM Turing Award winners, half the world’s chess champions, including 8% of the top 100 world chess players, and a quarter of Westinghouse Science Talent Search winners have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.
Time magazine’s person of the 20th century, Albert Einstein, was an Ashkenazi Jew. According to a study performed by Cambridge University, 21% of Ivy League students, 25% of the Turing Award winners, 23% of the wealthiest Americans, and 38% of the Oscar-winning film directors, and 29% of the Oslo awards have gone to Ashkenazi Jews.
Efforts to identify the origins of Ashkenazi Jews through DNA analysis began in the 1990s. Currently, there are three types of genetic origin testing, autosomal DNA (atDNA), mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and Y-chromosomal DNA (Y-DNA). Autosomal DNA is a mixture from an individual’s entire ancestry, Y-DNA shows a male’s lineage only along his strict-paternal line, mtDNA shows any person’s lineage only along the strict-maternal line. Genome-wide association studies have also been employed to yield findings relevant to genetic origins.
Like most DNA studies of human migration patterns, the earliest studies on Ashkenazi Jews focused on the Y-DNA and mtDNA segments of the human genome. Both segments are unaffected by recombination (except for the ends of the Y chromosome the pseudoautosomal regions known as PAR1 and PAR2), thus allowing tracing of direct maternal and paternal lineages.
These studies revealed that Ashkenazi Jews originated in the Middle East during the Bronze Age (between 2500 BC and 700 BC), spreading later to Europe.
Although the Jewish people in general were present across a wide geographical area as described, genetic research done by Gil Atzmon of the Longevity Genes Project at Albert Einstein College of Medicine suggests “that Ashkenazim branched off from other Jews around the time of the destruction of the First Temple, 2,500 years ago … flourished during the Roman Empire but then went through a ‘severe bottleneck’ as they dispersed, reducing a population of several million to just 400 families who left Northern Italy around the year 1000 for Central and eventually Eastern Europe.”
Various studies have arrived at diverging conclusions regarding both the degree and the sources of the non-Levantine admixture in Ashkenazim, particularly in respect to the extent of the non-Levantine genetic origin observed in Ashkenazi maternal lineages, which is in contrast to the predominant Levantine genetic origin observed in Ashkenazi paternal lineages. All studies nevertheless agree that genetic overlap with the Fertile Crescent exists in both lineages, albeit at differing rates. Collectively, Ashkenazi Jews are less genetically diverse than other Jewish ethnic divisions.
The majority of genetic findings to date concerning Ashkenazi Jews conclude that the male line was founded by ancestors from the Middle East. Others have found a similar genetic line among Greeks, and Macedonians.
A study of haplotypes of the Y-chromosome, published in 2000, addressed the paternal origins of Ashkenazi Jews. Hammer et al. found that the Y-chromosome of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews contained mutations that are also common among Middle Eastern peoples, but uncommon in the general European population. This suggested that the male ancestors of the Ashkenazi Jews could be traced mostly to the Middle East. The proportion of male genetic admixture in Ashkenazi Jews amounts to less than 0.5% per generation over an estimated 80 generations, with “relatively minor contribution of European Y chromosomes to the Ashkenazim,” and a total admixture estimate “very similar to Motulsky’s average estimate of 12.5%.” This supported the finding that “Diaspora Jews from Europe, Northwest Africa, and the Near East resemble each other more closely than they resemble their non-Jewish neighbors.” “Past research found that 5080 percent of DNA from the Ashkenazi Y chromosome, which is used to trace the male lineage, originated in the Near East,” Richards said.
But historical documents tell a slightly different tale. Based on accounts such as those of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, by the time of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, as many as six million Jews were living in the Roman Empire, but outside Israel, mainly in Italy and Southern Europe. In contrast, only about 500,000 lived in Judea, said Ostrer, who was not involved in the new study.
A 2001 study by Nebel et al. showed that both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish populations share the same overall paternal Near Eastern ancestries. In comparison with data available from other relevant populations in the region, Jews were found to be more closely related to groups in the north of the Fertile Crescent. The authors also report on Eu 19 (R1a) chromosomes, which are very frequent in Central and Eastern Europeans (54%60%) at elevated frequency (12.7%) in Ashkenazi Jews. They hypothesized that the differences among Ashkenazim Jews could reflect low-level gene flow from surrounding European populations and/or genetic drift during isolation. A later 2005 study by Nebel et al., found a similar level of 11.5% of male Ashkenazim belonging to R1a1a (M17+), the dominant Y-chromosome haplogroup in Central and Eastern Europeans.
Before 2006, geneticists had largely attributed the ethnogenesis of most of the world’s Jewish populations, including Ashkenazi Jews, to Israelite Jewish male migrants from the Middle East and “the women from each local population whom they took as wives and converted to Judaism.” Thus, in 2002, in line with this model of origin, David Goldstein, now of Duke University, reported that unlike male Ashkenazi lineages, the female lineages in Ashkenazi Jewish communities “did not seem to be Middle Eastern”, and that each community had its own genetic pattern and even that “in some cases the mitochondrial DNA was closely related to that of the host community.” In his view this suggested “that Jewish men had arrived from the Middle East, taken wives from the host population and converted them to Judaism, after which there was no further intermarriage with non-Jews.”
In 2006, a study by Behar et al., based on what was at that time high-resolution analysis of haplogroup K (mtDNA), suggested that about 40% of the current Ashkenazi population is descended matrilineally from just four women, or “founder lineages”, that were “likely from a Hebrew/Levantine mtDNA pool” originating in the Middle East in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. Additionally, Behar et al. suggested that the rest of Ashkenazi mtDNA is originated from ~150 women, and that most of those were also likely of Middle Eastern origin. In reference specifically to Haplogroup K, they suggested that although it is common throughout western Eurasia, “the observed global pattern of distribution renders very unlikely the possibility that the four aforementioned founder lineages entered the Ashkenazi mtDNA pool via gene flow from a European host population”.
In 2013, however, a study of Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA by a team led by Martin B. Richards of the University of Huddersfield in England reached different conclusions, again corroborating the pre-2006 origin hypothesis. Testing was performed on the full 16,600 DNA units composing mitochondrial DNA (the 2006 Behar study had only tested 1,000 units) in all their subjects, and the study found that the four main female Ashkenazi founders had descent lines that were established in Europe 10,000 to 20,000 years in the past while most of the remaining minor founders also have a deep European ancestry. The study states that the great majority of Ashkenazi maternal lineages were not brought from the Near East (i.e., they were non-Israelite), nor were they recruited in the Caucasus (i.e., they were non-Khazar), but instead they were assimilated within Europe, primarily of Italian and Old French origins. Richards summarized the findings on the female line as such: “[N]one [of the mtDNA] came from the North Caucasus, located along the border between Europe and Asia between the Black and Caspian seas. All of our presently available studies including my own, should thoroughly debunk one of the most questionable, but still tenacious, hypotheses: that most Ashkenazi Jews can trace their roots to the mysterious Khazar Kingdom that flourished during the ninth century in the region between the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire.” The 2013 study estimated that 80 percent of Ashkenazi maternal ancestry comes from women indigenous to Europe, and only 8 percent from the Near East, while the origin of the remainder is undetermined. According to the study these findings “point to a significant role for the conversion of women in the formation of Ashkenazi communities.”
Variation in Ashkenazi mtDNA is highly distinctive, with four major and numerous minor founders. However, due to their rarity in the general population, these founders had been difficult to trace to a source.
A 2014 study by Fernndez et al. has found that Ashkenazi Jews display a frequency of haplogroup K in their maternal DNA that suggests an ancient Near Eastern origin, similar to the results of Behar. He stated that this observation clearly contradicts the results of the study led by Richards that suggested a European source for 3 exclusively Ashkenazi K lineages.
In genetic epidemiology, a genome-wide association study (GWA study, or GWAS) is an examination of all or most of the genes (the genome) of different individuals of a particular species to see how much the genes vary from individual to individual. These techniques were originally designed for epidemiological uses, to identify genetic associations with observable traits.
A 2006 study by Seldin et al. used over five thousand autosomal SNPs to demonstrate European genetic substructure. The results showed “a consistent and reproducible distinction between ‘northern’ and ‘southern’ European population groups”. Most northern, central, and eastern Europeans (Finns, Swedes, English, Irish, Germans, and Ukrainians) showed >90% in the “northern” population group, while most individual participants with southern European ancestry (Italians, Greeks, Portuguese, Spaniards) showed >85% in the “southern” group. Both Ashkenazi Jews as well as Sephardic Jews showed >85% membership in the “southern” group. Referring to the Jews clustering with southern Europeans, the authors state the results were “consistent with a later Mediterranean origin of these ethnic groups”.
A 2007 study by Bauchet et al. found that Ashkenazi Jews were most closely clustered with Arabic North African populations when compared to Global population, and in the European structure analysis, they share similarities only with Greeks and Southern Italians, reflecting their east Mediterranean origins.
A 2010 study on Jewish ancestry by Atzmon-Ostrer et al. stated “Two major groups were identified by principal component, phylogenetic, and identity by descent (IBD) analysis: Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews. The IBD segment sharing and the proximity of European Jews to each other and to southern European populations suggested similar origins for European Jewry and refuted large-scale genetic contributions of Central and Eastern European and Slavic populations to the formation of Ashkenazi Jewry”, as both groups the Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews shared common ancestors in the Middle East about 2500 years ago. The study examines genetic markers spread across the entire genome and shows that the Jewish groups (Ashkenazi and non Ashkenazi) share large swaths of DNA, indicating close relationships and that each of the Jewish groups in the study (Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Italian, Turkish, Greek and Ashkenazi) has its own genetic signature but is more closely related to the other Jewish groups than to their fellow non-Jewish countrymen. Atzmon’s team found that the SNP markers in genetic segments of 3 million DNA letters or longer were 10 times more likely to be identical among Jews than non-Jews. Results of the analysis also tally with biblical accounts of the fate of the Jews. The study also found that with respect to non-Jewish European groups, the population most closely related to Ashkenazi Jews are modern-day Italians. The study speculated that the genetic-similarity between Ashkenazi Jews and Italians may be due to inter-marriage and conversions in the time of the Roman Empire. It was also found that any two Ashkenazi Jewish participants in the study shared about as much DNA as fourth or fifth cousins.
A 2010 study by Bray et al., using SNP microarray techniques and linkage analysis found that when assuming Druze and Palestinian Arab populations to represent the reference to world Jewry ancestor genome, between 35 to 55 percent of the modern Ashkenazi genome can possibly be of European origin, and that European “admixture is considerably higher than previous estimates by studies that used the Y chromosome” with this reference point. Assuming this reference point the linkage disequilibrium in the Ashkenazi Jewish population was interpreted as “matches signs of interbreeding or ‘admixture’ between Middle Eastern and European populations”. On the Bray et al. tree, Ashkenazi Jews were found to be a genetically more divergent population than Russians, Orcadians, French, Basques, Italians, Sardinians and Tuscans. The study also observed that Ashkenazim are more diverse than their Middle Eastern relatives, which was counterintuitive because Ashkenazim are supposed to be a subset, not a superset, of their assumed geographical source population. Bray et al. therefore postulate that these results reflect not the population antiquity but a history of mixing between genetically distinct populations in Europe. However, it’s possible that the relaxation of marriage prescription in the ancestors of Ashkenazim that drove their heterozygosity up, while the maintenance of the FBD rule in native Middle Easterners have been keeping their heterozygosity values in check. Ashkenazim distinctiveness as found in the Bray et al. study, therefore, may come from their ethnic endogamy (ethnic inbreeding), which allowed them to “mine” their ancestral gene pool in the context of relative reproductive isolation from European neighbors, and not from clan endogamy (clan inbreeding). Consequently, their higher diversity compared to Middle Easterners stems from the latter’s marriage practices, not necessarily from the former’s admixture with Europeans.
The genome-wide genetic study carried out in 2010 by Behar et al. examined the genetic relationships among all major Jewish groups, including Ashkenazim, as well as the genetic relationship between these Jewish groups and non-Jewish ethnic populations. The study found that contemporary Jews (excluding Indian and Ethiopian Jews) have a close genetic relationship with people from the Levant. The authors explained that “the most parsimonious explanation for these observations is a common genetic origin, which is consistent with an historical formulation of the Jewish people as descending from ancient Hebrew and Israelite residents of the Levant”.
Speculation that the Ashkenazi arose from Khazar stock surfaced in the later 19th century and has met with mixed fortunes in the scholarly literature. In late 2012 Eran Elhaik, a research associate studying genetics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, argued for Khazar descent in his paper The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses. A 2013 study of Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA found no significant evidence of Khazar contribution to the Ashkenazi Jewish DNA, as would be predicted by the Khazar hypothesis.
A 2013 trans-genome study carried out by 30 geneticists, from 13 universities and academies, from 9 countries, assembling the largest data set available to date, for assessment of Ashkenazi Jewish genetic origins found no evidence of Khazar origin among Ashkenazi Jews. “Thus, analysis of Ashkenazi Jews together with a large sample from the region of the Khazar Khaganate corroborates the earlier results that Ashkenazi Jews derive their ancestry primarily from populations of the Middle East and Europe, that they possess considerable shared ancestry with other Jewish populations, and that there is no indication of a significant genetic contribution either from within or from north of the Caucasus region”, the authors concluded.
There are many references to Ashkenazi Jews in the literature of medical and population genetics. Indeed, much awareness of “Ashkenazi Jews” as an ethnic group or category stems from the large number of genetic studies of disease, including many that are well reported in the media, that have been conducted among Jews. Jewish populations have been studied more thoroughly than most other human populations, for a variety of reasons:
The result is a form of ascertainment bias. This has sometimes created an impression that Jews are more susceptible to genetic disease than other populations. Healthcare professionals are often taught to consider those of Ashkenazi descent to be at increased risk for colon cancer.
A study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine examines a particular genetic trait that increases the lifespan of the Ashkenazi population. The study focuses on telomerase, the enzyme responsible for maintaining telomeres at the ends of chromosomes during cell division.
Genetic counseling and genetic testing are often undertaken by couples where both partners are of Ashkenazi ancestry. Some organizations, most notably Dor Yeshorim, organize screening programs to prevent homozygosity for the genes that cause related diseases.
Ashkenazi Jews – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia