The stuff that I know about Judaism are fragmented knowledge from hearsays and from reading other war and tragedy books about Jewish. So it is with my desire to decipher the religious and traditional significance of terms like Yom Kippur, Torah, Talmud, Rosh Hashanah, the Wailing wall and Hanukkah.
These are what I had learnt from the book:
- Besides the Sephardi and the Ashkenazi Jews, there is a third group called Edot ha-Mizrah which can be found in Middle East and Yemen.
- There are three(3) major movements of Judaism : The Reform, Conservative and Orthodox. Conservative being the group that straddles between the Reform and Orthodox.
- Torah is the first of the three parts of the Hebrew bible.
- The history of Jews in Christendom is one of nearly constant persecution. Massacres, expulsions and forced conversions were common. The position of the Jews under Islam could also be precarious, but in times of tolerance they flourished in a manner unthinkable under Christian rule. The high point in this respect was the “Golden Age” of the Jews of Muslim Spain 10 – 12th centuries.-page 17
- Many of exiled and refugee Judeans managed to avoid assimilation in Babylon. This was largely due to the effort of religious leaders like Jeremiah, who argued that it was possible to retain both religious and national identity even in exile. Thus was born the bifurcation that has marked Judaism since that time, the division of the Jewish people into a community in the national homeland and one living the Diaspora. – page 22
- Judaism believes that God is the creator of both good and evil, Islam believes the same. –page 26
- In Judaism, although human beings may aspire to holiness through their actions, the veneration of mortals is generally avoided. Figures from the past are objects of emulation, but not adoration: the division between the divine and the human realms remains. There is no apotheosis in Judaism.
- One I find appealing and which I hold true is the concept of tikkun olam (“betterment of the world”), the desire to leave the world a better place than when one entered it. – page 61
- Judaism does not subscribe to the doctrine of original sin, but believes each human being to be born with the potential for doing both good and evil. The individual has to bear the responsibility for his or her actions and life becomes a struggle between the inclination to good (yetzer ha-tov) and the inclination to evil (yetzer ha-ra).-page 61
- According to the Bible, God’s blessing for Abraham consisted of a twofold promise of descendants and of land. The Jewish people view themselves as the fulfillment of the first promise; the second is fulfilled by the people of Israel dwelling in the land of Israel. It is perhaps a uniquely Jewish paradox that a religion to which a person born anywhere in the world can belong is yet intimately bound to one small territory.
I do not claim to be an expert of Judaism after reading this and I doubt I could remember all the terminologies that I have read. I knew some basic knowledge about Judasim from my other half’s experience growing up with Jewish, by reading the Christian bible and also by observing at Jewish artifacts and antiques for sale in the Moroccan souks; but the book introduces me to the key themes: the history and origins, the beliefs, the important figure, the festive days, ethical principles, about death ceremony and what Jewish believe about afterlife. The author made the book succinct and accessible to all, with pictorial illustration and glossy quality pages, it serves as a good first introduction to Judaism.
Hardback. Publisher: Duncan Baird 2004; Length: 111 pages; Setting: Non-fiction. Source: Library Loot. Finished reading at: 8 May 2010.
I am reading this for the World Religion Challenge. More about the author please see: Carl S. Ehrlich