What is Judaism?
In the world more than seven billion people live. Of these, an estimated two billion Christians and 1.5 billion Muslims. In contrast to these huge numbers are currently worldwide between 13 and 15 million Jews.One reason for the low expansion is that Jews do not proselytize, so advertise any new followers of their religion.
The extermination of the Jews in the Third Reich has also left enormous wounds to this day: The Shoah fell approximately six million Jews victim. Today, nearly six million Jews live in the US, more than five million in Israel. In Germany there are about 100,000 Jews.
It can not be answered clearly, who is ultimately a Jew. Even in Judaism itself, this is a very controversial issue to this day. While you can, under certain conditions transgressed as a non-Jew to the Jewish religion, just as one can assume the commitment of other religions. But a Jew is one first born again. Jew’s, whose mother is Jewish.
But the Jews are not only a religious community, but also a nation. Only since the mid-20th century, there is again a Jewish state, the State of Israel. For centuries the Jews had but no nation-state territory and therefore belong to different nations today.
Judaism can therefore be described with words like religion, people, culture, belief, faith, fate or tradition community. The Jewish religious scholar Ruth Lapide has to the question “Who is a Jew?” the following answer: “Jew is, if one is born a Jew, or not hinauskonvertiert hineinkonvertiert.”
Judaism – a scriptural religion
Judaism is a religion of Scripture. It has neither a clergy, as it exists in the Christian churches, nor a spiritual leader like the Pope.Even priests – a mediator between God and men – are alien to Judaism. Instead, there are the rabbis, especially scholarly, pious and wise Jews. They carry as community leaders responsible for their parishioners and advise them in religious, personal and everyday things.
The Jewish Scriptures, the Tanakh, consists of three books: Torah (Hebrew: transfer), Nebi’im (prophets) and Ketubim (writings). There is also the Talmud, the rabbinical interpretation of the Torah and its laws. Center and source of Jewish life is the Torah. It includes the five books of Moses. For Christians these five books of the Old Testament.
The Orthodox Jews believe that the words of the Torah are the words of God, which he passed on Mount Sinai to Moses 3,000 years ago. It is the early history of the Jewish religion and the people of Israel. In addition, the Torah regulates many aspects of Jewish daily life. You will always be treated with reverence. Specially trained writers transfer their text on parchments which are stitched together to form rolls and the Liturgy of the Word in the synagogue brought out.
A small community is changing the world
In the Koran (Sura 21, 51-67), there is a very significant story (which, incidentally, finds himself neither in the Torah nor in the Bible), which makes clear that the history of Israel, a new era has come. The story is about Abraham, one of the Jewish patriarchs, which plays an important role in Islam and in Christianity.
God appears the nomadic Abraham and expected of him fidelity and loyalty. But Abraham lives worshiping at a time in which people are not one God (monotheism), but many gods (polytheism). Abraham’s father does not believe in the One God, but sells small idols and gods statues.
Abraham smashes his father’s complete inventory, only one of the statues – and the largest – he spared. This he sticks his dick in his hand, and does so as if the destructive work of these idol statue assumed. On one hand, Abraham wants to lead his people in mind so that the belief in false gods is useless. On the other hand, the story is a picture that tolerates one God, the God of Abraham, have no other gods beside him.
This is precisely the pioneering cultural achievement, which is assumed by the Jewish people. The God of the Jews will displace all other gods, the Jewish religion have a large impact on the world’s religions. Abraham and his descendants that should have lived nearly 4000 years ago and the tribes of Israel have established, were only a small nation – but with great effect.
The mighty civilizations of the globe, the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians, Sumerians and Babylonians, the Greeks and Romans have long since passed. Just belong to their religious beliefs and faith worlds, their many gods of the past.However, the little Jewish people, the politically never was a superpower, but was heavily suppressed by Egyptians and Romans, has survived with his religious beliefs to this day. And not only that: Judaism is a starting point for Christianity and Islam.
Different directions of Judaism
Judaism knows today a variety of different trends and understandings of piety.During the Enlightenment (18th century), the idea of a reform movement began to enforce, examined the new contemporary forms of Jewish worship. This should be done in accordance with the needs and circumstances of the former presence of the Reformer’s view.
The critical analysis of the long-standing traditional material of Jewish culture and its integration into the modern world led to different currents that ran in a conservative, a liberal and a further orthodox direction.
Orthodox Jews understand the Torah as directly revealed by God. The Halacha, Jewish religious law is complied with in everyday life. Orthodox Jews always eat kosher and strictly observe a large number of ritual and liturgical rules, such as the observance of the Sabbath.
Liberal / Progressive Judaism
translates the progressive Judaism and interpreted the Torah in the present. The religious commandments are not recognized as in Orthodoxy as given by God, but as understood man-made. Therefore Scripture and bids can be re-interpreted and explained also by man. The mitzvot that Jewish laws are loosely according to the progressive reading or not handled.
Conservative Judaism – an important flow especially in the United States – sees itself as a middle ground between Orthodox and Progressive Judaism. It seeks to preserve Jewish tradition, but then prevail with the Jewish religious law compatible modernization.
The various Jewish piety movements were organizationally adopted in Germany under the umbrella of “unified community”. Before the Holocaust, the group of progressive Jews formed the majority, which decisively influenced the development of progressive communities in other European countries. So the Jews persecuted during the Third Reich still recognized a liberal rabbi Leo Baeck, as representatives of the entire German Jewry to. Since World War II, is mostly influenced orthodox Jewish life in Germany in its orientation.