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Judaism Case

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Hum 130

September 2, 2012

A Casperon


Judaism is one of the oldest religions in existence and has been around even longer than Christianity although Christianity is considered as a branch of from Judaism after Jesus' death and the resurrection Christians believe in. There are some similarities between the two, but there are also many interesting differences. I will be discussing the history of Judaism, reviewing information from a synagogue visit called Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village, CA along with an interview with a member from the synagogue Melanie Fine, and finally looking similarities and differences between Judaism and Christianity. During my research for this paper, along with the assignments in class, I have found Judaism that there was much about Judaism I did not know and many misconceptions I have had. I have learned a lot not only from this assignment but from the class in general.

Judaism is based from many centuries of tradition and does not have an actual leader who makes decisions on how things are to be run nor does anyone decide if there are changes should be made. It is considered both a religious and ethnic group, which can be confusing for people who do not know very much about Judaism. Judaism was named as an ethnicity in the 1980s by the United States Supreme Court so they could be covered in the anti-discrimination laws that would protect them. Over the years the Jewish people have had many challenges and have been persecuted in many different ways. I often feel they are a minority group which has suffered the most and they are still being persecuted today in some countries.

Judaism began in the Middle East; or more specifically it began in Israel, in the nomadic tribes about 3500 years ago. According to the sacred text of the Old Testament, Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son which he was ready and willing to do because he was loyal to God. Although Abraham did not actually have to sacrifice his son, his willingness to do so demonstrated his love and devotion to God. Even though Judaism does not have a founder or leader, this act was the start of Abraham becoming a great leader and the father of the Jewish people. Abraham is known as the first in the line of Judaism to worship God in the Jewish tradition. According to the sacred text, the covenant God made with Abraham God made promises to Abraham which required nothing from him in return. According to scripture, God promised land, to make a great nation from Abraham's decedents, and blessings and redemption.

Judaism is a monotheistic religion, a religion that has the belief there is only one God. Judaism is more a religion of works rather than faith. They believe in following the word of God and His commandments. Those who follow the Jewish religion believe the commandments God gave are required to be followed even today, where Christianity believes they are to use them as a guide but they are not a requirement.

The text used by Judaism is called the Torah. The Torah is sometimes referred to as the Five Books of Moses which are Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy; but the Written Torah can also be referred to as the complete Jewish Bible which is considered as the Old Testament to the Christians. Those who follow the Jewish religion do not believe in an Old Testament and New Testament of the Holy Bible as the Christians do, the Jewish text only sees the Old Testament as valid and only use this part of the text as their guide. The Written Torah is also referred to as the TeNaKh. The Torah is also called the instruction for teaching.

I visited a synagogue called Temple Beth Hillel which is not far from my home and is located in Valley Village. Temple Beth Hillel is referred to a Reformed Judaism. The door for Reformed Judaism to begin was in 1783 when a man named Moses Mendelson decided to translate the Torah in German because the Jewish people there did not know how to read Hebrew. There are differences between the Orthodox Jewish and Reform Jewish branches as there are with the different denominations of Christianity and one thing I have realized is there is strife within the differences of their beliefs again similar to the strife that appears at time between the different Christian denominations, which is something I have always found to be a bit sad.

I attended the Family Shabbat Service on Friday August 3rd at 7:30pm. The Temple Beth Hillel is a beautiful synagogue and the service was nice. They discussed Va-et'chanan, Deut. 3:23-7:11 which Rabbi Sarah Hronsky and Cantor Shana Leon discussed why do good things happened to those who try to do good, why we have to deal with pain and how frustrating it can be but we must not blame God that the nature of sin causes bad things to happen in our lives and we can look to God to help and fix the problems we encounter in our lives (whether of our own fault or not).

I interviewed an attendee named Melanie Fine who was more than happy to help me in answering a few questions. Melanie is Jewish by blood and is married to her husband who was a also a Reformed Jew all of his life named Steven. One of my first questions I had to change because I already knew that the church did not follow the Orthodox traditions, so I asked her if she was an Orthodox Jew at one time and became a Reformed Jew or has she always been reformed. Melanie has always been a Reformed Jew, her parents converted over when they were early in their



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