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RE100 (10)


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Wilfrid Laurier University
Religion & Culture
Chris Klassen

THE MANY STORIES OF JUDAISM Sacred and Secular Overview - Ultra-orthodox Jews close off the streets to traffic every Friday in strict observance of the Sabbath. - Jerusalem’s inhabitants consider themselves ethnic rather than religious Jews. o Disregard most religious rules and Sabbath - Orthodox synagogue – males and female worshippers segregated, rabi is male - Reform synagogue – man and women sit together, rabi is female - Great diversity in Judaism today - Smallest of the great world religions - Jews take as the highest reality the God of creation and history, who revealed himself to Moses at Mount Sinai. - The Christian concept of original sin does not exist in Judaism. o Each and every human being is free to choose good or evil because each of us stands before God in the same relationship that Adam and Eve did. - The dual Torah – the sacred teachings, both oral and written, concerning God’s revelation to his people. - In giving the people Israel the Torah, God established a covenant (a binding agreement) with them, making them a holy people and reminding them that God will guide and protect them and they will obey His commandments. Encounter with Modernity: Modern Judaisms and the Challenge of Ultra- Orthodoxy - Premodern Rabbinic Judaism was a world unto itself, embracing every aspect of life and offering safe haven from a gentile (non-Jewish) world that severely restricted the role of Jews in society. - For Reform Jews the centre of Judaism is its ethics; ritual practices and belief in supernatural phenomena are negotiable. - For Conservative Jews the rituals are not negotiable, but supernatural beliefs are. - For Orthodox Jews neither is negotiable, but it is still permissible for Jews to live some parts of life in the secular world. - Ultra-Orthodox Jews accept no such compromises with the secular world. o Seek to create a Jewish way of life, totally separate not only for the gentile world but from modernizing forms of Judaism  Segregate themselves by creating Jewish communities where every aspect of life is governed by supernatural belief and traditional ritual. - Ultra-Orthodoxy rejects pluralism because they fear it leads to religious and ethical relativism. o One truth, one way of life, to which all Jews must return THE CONFLICT OVER PUBLIC LIFE: RELIGION AND POLITICS IN THE STATE OF ISRAEL - Public life in Israel was shaped by secular Jews with a non-religious socialist- Zionist worldview. - Halalkhah – the commandments of God revealed in the Tanak and commented on in the Talmud; the word means to walk in the way of God by obeying his commands or laws. Ultra-Orthodox Minorities: The Gush Emunim and the Neturei Karta - The Neturei Karta, in their wide-brimmed hats and long black coats, emaluate a centuries-old way of life that comes out of the traditions of the eastern European Haredim, “those of true piety”. - Gush Emunin, while rigorously ultra-Orthodox in their observance of halakhah, have adopted a more modern style of dress that clearly distinguishes them from the Haredim and points to their identification with the secular Zionists who founded the state of Israel, whom they see as their counterparts. - Unlike Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Jews, the ultra-Orthodox Haredim will not live in communities with gentile neighbours and refuse to mix with modern Jews who do not share their views. Ultra-Orthodoxy as a Type of Fundamentalism - What all religious fundamentalist movements have in common is a desire to return to the foundations of belief and action that existed in their respective traditions prior to the coming of modernity. - Former secular Jews and modern religious Jews have chosen a form of Judaism that promises to bring order and meaning to the whole of life, not just a part of it, and that requires a full-time commitment, not just a part-time commitment. - The “fundamentalist” movements challenged modern forms of Judaism by refusing to reduce being Jewish to historical heritage, morality, and ethnicity. - Ultra-Orthodoxy rejects all forms of secular Judaism and the diversity found in Judaism today. - For them, total immersion in a premodern way of life represents a definitive break with the decadence of Western civilization. Premodern Judaism: The Formative Era THE BIBLICAL ROOTS OF JUDAISM - Judaism is shaped by the myth of history. - The story of God who made promises to Abraham and his descendants that were fulfilled centuries later when this God sent Moses to deliver his people from slavery in Egypt and lead them into the “land of promise”. - Analogies fro
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