Interview on Judaism Paper University of Phoenix September 2, 2010 Interview on Judaism Paper Judaism is one of the oldest religions practiced in the world today. Although the basic rituals and traditions have been modified over the millenniums, the covenants between the people of this faith and their higher power have remained the same. The history is long and the journey has been difficult for this group. This paper involves an interview with a dedicated individual who has personal information that will assist in the understanding to why this religion continues to exist today.
Judaism has been in practice for over six thousand years. According to Simani (2009), the Torah, which is the five books of Moses, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. ” Later in the chapter it continues with “and God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it:” This day stated is the Shabbat. It is observed as the day of rest because God rested from creation” (Simani, 2009). As an example of how the traditions are founded and practiced many events that are continued are stories from both the oral and written Torah.
The written Torah is Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Each book has extensive histories of the Jewish people and is the documentation of this history. The first book is also known as the Breshit. This book describes the creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the Flood and ends with Jacob’s descendants and family to Egypt. The second book is also known as Shmot. The title of this book is the names of the Jews who entered Egypt. It continues with the stories of the eventual enslavement of the Jewish people, the birth of Moses and his efforts to finally release the Hebrews from this slavery.
It then moves to the events at Mt. Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments and the first covenant between God and the Jewish people. This covenant is the responsibility of the people to honor God and his covenant to protect his people (Fisher, 2005). The third book is known as Va yirka. This book talks about God’s instruction to Moses about the laws, the priest, the sacrifices and the Festvals. The main message is to love your neighbor as yourself (Becher & Newman, 1996). The fourth book is known as Bamidbar.
It talks about the 40 years in the wilderness and the establishment of the 12 tribes of Israel. Devarim is the final book written according to Moses. “It speaks of the message that Moses had before his death. He writes the Torah in thirteen copies, giving each tribe a copy and placing one in the Holy Ark” (Simani, 2009). This completes the written Torah and begins the interview to the Oral Torah. “In Judaism, Jews were commanded to follow 613 mitzvot (commandments) while non-jews only have to follow seven laws of Noah.
These laws include: •Murder •Theft •Sexual Immorality- Adultery, Bestiality, Incest, Homosexuality •Blasphemy • Not eating the limb of an animal while it is still alive •Setting up a body of government, with laws” (Simani, 2009). Each of the mitzvoth requires study and are too lengthy to go into detail responded Mr. Simani (2009). Most other religions that are descendant to Judaism refer to these laws and continue to practice them also. Most of the laws in today’s society also use these laws as guidelines to current peace-making.
Even the Constitution of the United States is based on traditional Jewish law. This interview was conducted during the Hanukkah Festival season. Traditionally, a Menorah is used to hold eight candles which represent the eight days of the Festival. According to legend, when the Jews regained access to the Temple, they found only one jar of oil left undefiled, still sealed by the high priest (Fisher, 2005). This jar had enough oil to stay lit for one day. “By the miracle of God, this lamp managed to stay lit for eight days; hence the eight days of Hanukkah” (Simani, 2009).
On the eighth day of the traditional festival, Jewish people gather together in a celebration with lots of jelly donuts and toys for the children. Scriptures and service is about an hour long with most of it being in Hebrew. The understanding to this celebration is to show the appreciation of the people to God and his love for his people. From the beginning of the celebration each candle is lit and a gift is given. During the holiday, a big gift on the first day, practical gifts for each day in between and a final gift on the last day of the festival.
The atmosphere is filled with joy and friendship. Each person the author met seemed to be in high spirits with the celebration and the camaraderie of those sharing in the festivities. The experience was entertaining and very educational. The celebration took place at the Jewish Community Center located in Houston, Texas. The author assumed this celebration would be of a church or service type event. This was not the case. The service was held on the first day of the celebration which is on the Shabbat or Sabbath, and then again on the following Sabbath at the end of the celebration.
The invitation given to the author was for the festival on the Friday before the last day. The service was held at the Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism. The service spoke of the story of Joseph and his successes after he was sold into slavery. Joseph shows the people that assimilation is good for the well being of the individual. The service shows that assimilation is the foundation of this congregation and being that interfaith is part of the curriculum, everyone who seeks is welcome and wanted in this community of believers.
As the service continues, the message given is translated by this author is that this community is open to outsiders and willing without prejudice to invite anyone who wants to become part of this group is welcome. When interviewing Mr. Simani, the author’s interpretation to his belief was more orthodox than the beliefs of the group he worships with. This individual’s answers to simplistic questions to the Jewish faith were complex in his answers. Basically the Jewish faith is based on tradition and rituals. They tend to follow the Oral and written Torah.
These scriptures guide the individuals on the journey to the final judgment. The author questioned some of these traditions such as the ceremony of the Bris Mila. This covenant is between God and the Jewish people. “ . It symbolizes that we are not perfect in this world, much like wheat that has to be threshed in order to bring out its true potential, so too we are not born like angels, we must work even on our physical in order to reach our potential, and reach the height of ourselves” (Simani, 2009). A Bris Mila is the circumcision of a Jewish male child.
At the end of the interview the interviewee was asked how religion has shaped his life. Mr. Simani’s response is “religion is a continual practice from what you do in the morning to the food you eat, to even how you go to sleep at night there are laws on everything although this is a challenge it also allows me to continually reflect upon God and walk in his ways” (Simani, 2009). The food for example is to be kosher. This means that they are dietary restriction. There are many laws regarding Kosher some just for meat are that it needs to be slaughtered properly, the blood drained and he animal must chew cud and have split hooves. For fish they much have scales and fins. Finally the birds must not be birds of prey. True Jewish tradition forbids Jews to marry outside of the faith. The reform groups will make concessions to this as long as the children of the marriage are brought up within the Jewish faith. When comparing the Jewish faith with the faith of the author, many of the rituals are similar. Being a Catholic, these traditions are uniform. Each has a schedule or pattern to their service and is followed. Many of the holidays coincide with the ones of the Christian faith.
Passover, which is a Jewish tradition, falls with the Christian holiday of Easter. Hanukkah is during the winter solstice and Christmas, which is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, also follow pattern. Other than the belief of Jesus being the messiah in the Catholic faith; Jewish tradition believes the messiah has yet to come. Reform Jewish communities believe Jesus to be a prophet, but not the messiah. The modern belief of this reform group allows time to modify their belief and culture. It allows for change and fives the believers the satisfaction of change without losing focus on the covenants set with God and the people.
They seek for this individual to come before the end of judgment and are believers to this sacred. This path of thought keeps this religion focused on what is to come and keeps the Jewish people following the traditions of their ancestors. By taking the time to learn more about this religion and the beliefs of the individual interviewed, the author has a better appreciation to the culture and traditions of this religion. It also shows that the two religions are not that different. Both have a desire to follow the path of the anointed ones and to show love and kindness to their fellow man.
They have rules that are set by the Jewish faith that they follow with only the difference of the savior has already come to the Christians but not to the Jewish. The Jewish people has had its share of despair and torture; through the beginning of the story of the separation of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden to Noah and the flood, to the more current events of the Holocaust in the mid 20th century. This religion has fought to stay alive regardless of the turmoil laid upon them. The Holocaust has brought new light to the need of understanding between the different religions and the focus of kindness to the others.
This has came to affect through pluralism and organizations formed to share in the responsibility to understand and appreciate the knowledge of each group. They have sought guidance through their Creator that they believe in and have been able to continue throughout time. The rich culture and constant focus on the religion that keeps them going is never ending. References Becher, R. M. , & Newman, R. M. (1996). Ohr Somayach International. Retrieved January 8, 2009, from OHR: http://ohr. edu/judaism/survey/survey1. htm#SHMOS Fisher, M. P. (2005). Living Religions, sixth edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.