What Does It Mean to Be Jewish?

1 January 2017

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When someone says they’re Jewish, that can mean a couple things. Either that is their religion, or their ethnicity, it could even be both. Judaism is the term of following the Jewish religion. Judaism isn’t a religion based off of one single founder or central leader, nor is it based off theological decisions made from a group. The Judaism religion is better described as an Israel way of life that’s based off of the Tanakh. The Tanakh is essentially a different version of the Christians “Old Testament. ” Including the creation of the world by God, and his commandments.

The Torah aka “The Penateuch” are the teachings of the Jewish religion referenced by the five books of Moses. The Torah consists of Genesis, Exodus, Levicticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Another group of books from The Tanakah are the “Prophets” The Prophets are a group of books that are ascribed to the leading of reformers such as Isah, and spoke about the flaws in society, promising a Messiah to freeing them and leading them to power. Jewish theology elaborates on the principles of faith in the light of contemporary life and thought.

Philosopher Maimonides blends the theology of the Jews with Greek and Muslim Philosophy, creating his “Thirteen Principles of Faith. ” An example of the spiritual side of Judaism that expresses the soul’s “mystical journey toward God” is known as Mystical Kabbalism, and it began during the second temple period. Mystical Kabbalism began to seriously develop during the European Middle Ages. Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer was the founder of the mystical Jewish Hasidic sect in Eastern Europe in the 1700’s. Eliezer was known as Baal-Shem Tov, which means “Master of God’s Name. Rabbi Eliezer strived to want others to live by the Torah with its insight, and to follow God’s principles. God’s principles are: Ecstasy (Hitlahavut), embracing God beyond time and space, Service (Avoda) to God in time and space, Intention (Kavana), the mystery of the soul directed to redeeming the world, and Humility (Shiflut).

The place where the Rabbi worked and followers of Judaism gathered where in a temple. The first temple of Jerusalem was built under the reign of King Solomon, who was the son of “Israel’s greatest king. After a long time of wandering worship, Israelites now had a place to go where god would be most present to them. Temples are still used today for the Jewish to worship, it is also known as the synagogue. Friday is known as Shabbat also known as Sabbath eve, and is the day that majority of Jewish people go to worship. On Shabbat Jewish people are prohibited from using electricity, and driving cars. I personally have several Jewish friends with only one who was raised to follow the strict guidelines of Shabbat. Thus proving that not all Jewish people are the same.

The Jewish are also restricted from eating pork and non-kosher meals. Kosher (Kashrut) is a set of Jewish dietary laws. The laws even go far as to having to cook your food in kosher pots and pans. The Jewish community follows, and practices a lot rituals, and they also celebrate a lot of different holidays. Holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, Tu B’Shevat, Purim, Passover, Lag B’Omer, Shavu’ot, and Tisha B’av, and Hanukkah. Hanukkah which is probably the most popular to everyone in the united states is celebrated over eight days in December.

Jewish also have their children participate in this ceremony when they become of age for their actions. When boys reach 13, they have Bar Mitzvah’s, and when girls reach 12 they have Bat Mitzvah’s. This rite of passage comes with a lot of responsibilities for an adult Jew to follow. They include moral responsibilities for own acions, being able to read from the Torah, May posses’ personal property, and may legally be married according to Jewish laws. Being Jewish is takes a lot of responsibility.

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