Judaism: Beliefs, Rituals, Celebrations And Symbols – Edubirdie

Posted By on December 15, 2022

Exploring new areas outside of ones personal experiences or level of knowledge can be intimidating. I found this to be true when asked to attend a religious service outside of my own religious traditions. Religion is a sensitive subject for most people. In the United States, it is common to hear people say not to discuss two things; religion and politics because people tend to end up arguing over these subjects. Thus, the reason religion is usually kept private and not discussed openly.

I grew up in a household that held many Christian beliefs and values. Learning the history of my own religion is what first sparked my interest in Judaism because according to the Bible, Jesus the son of God was Jewish. This fact has always lingered in my mind, but I have never acted upon the urge to enlighten myself on Judaism and its beliefs, until being given this assignment.

To understand the Jewish faith, one must first learn about the religions history as Judaism is one of the worlds oldest monothetic religions, dating back to 30,000 years old. There are 14 million Jewish people living in the world today, most of them residing in the United States or Israel. Jewish people believe in one God, who has elected the Jewish people to be in a covenant relationship with. It is God who they credit to have created and rules the world and at the end of time will come back for all of Israel, otherwise known as the Jewish people. The universal goal of Judaism is the idea of messianism, the belief that in a messiah as the savior of the world, who will bring peace and justice to our realm.

The origins of Judaism are told in the Torah, which is a portion of the Jewish sacred text known as the Tanakh or also referred to as the Pentateuch. The Torah consist of five books, Genesis, the creation of the world. Exodus, which speaks about how the Egyptians has enslaved the Israelites. It also is where the Ten Commandments of the bible can be found. Leviticus, discusses morality, diet, rules pertaining to sacrifice, and other ways of life. Numbers, known as the census. This book tells the adventures of the Hebrew people on their way through the desert to Canaan. The final book is titled Deuteronomy, where Moses address the children of Israel.

In the Jewish culture law is the most important domain of life. It is a guide in how to bring forth the reign of God on Earth. As the Jewish community believe that they are called to express loyalty to their covenant with God by following the examples set by the Torah in the most public and private times. Within the community, Jews are called upon to reflect on his or her personal intentions or behaviors. When people do so, they are believed to be rewarded by God, either in this world or the world to come, which comes after death.

Reform Judaism: The particular synagogue I visited was categorized as reformed. Reform Judaism has modified traditional Jewish views, laws, and rituals to fit the modern-day society and political culture. Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise is credited with the success of Reform Judaism in the United States; it began in 1841 in Charleston, SC. Reformed Jews assert that if Judaism stays frozen in time it will not survive a modern era. This form of Judaism introduces modern innovation and still preserves tradition and law, by doing so the religious beliefs and values are held without rejecting diversity amongst its community. Tikkun olam repairing the world is the hallmark of Reform Judaism. They accept the Torah as the foundation to their lifestyle, a book that allows them to face trials in their everyday lives. Holding true to the belief that Judaism must adapt to new times, Reformed Jews also are committed to the principles of inclusion for all, despite how the person is considered Jewish. Equality for woman in all areas of Judaism and of the lgbtq+ community.

Most Reform congregations celebrate Sabbath with a service on Friday nights rather than Saturday mornings. They also do not enforce the rabbinic prohibitions against labor on the Sabbath. Reform Jews practice most of the same rituals as those in traditional Judaism.

When a baby is going to be named, a ceremony is held to choose the babys Hebrew name. The ceremony often takes place on the eight day after birth for boys when they are being brit milah or circumcised and within the first few weeks for baby girls. During the ceremony parents have the opportunity to explain their rational for having chosen the babys particular Hebrew name. Blessing are also said to acknowledge the babys new covenant with God and for the baby to grow into a life study of the Torah.

Confirmation is a Reform originated ceremony for teenagers tied to the Jewish holiday Shavuot, a holiday that occurs seven weeks after Passover to embrace the teaching of the Torah. Confirmation takes place at the end of grade 10, where students confirm a commitment to Judaism and the Jewish lifestyle. Most commonly, the Confirmation students lead all or part of the service and Torah reading.

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Bar and bat mitzvah are directly translated to son and daughter of the commandment. Bar mitzvah were first developed for boys as a public recognition of a religious and legal status. When a boy turns 13 years old, they are called upon the Torah as a way of establishing entry into manhood. The bar mitzvah boy chants blessings and his father then recites a special blessing, Baruch sheptarani mei-onsho shelazeh or blessed is he who has freed me for the responsibility for this boy. The boy would then give a scholarly address on the Torah, followed by a gala feast called the sudat mitzvah. At 12 years old, Jewish girls take on their legal responsibility, corresponding with most girls onset of puberty. However, unlike Jewish boys, girls are subject to fewer commandments. Some families hold a sudat mitzvah for their daughters, that have the same process as the boys ceremony.

Contrary to traditional Jewish belief, Reform Judaism has made provisions for interfaith marriages and children to be welcomed into the Reform congregation, as well as, encouraged to convert to Judaism. Conversion is Reform Judaism only require the prospective covert to declare, orally or in writing, in the presence of a rabbi and at least two leaders of the congregation, acceptance of the Jewish faith and lifestyle.

Shabbat is a day of rest and prayer dedicated to God at the end of the week, meant to mirror how God rested after his creation, Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of Adonai your God. (Exodus 20:9-10) Shabbat starts 18 minutes before sundown on Friday until an hour after sundown on Saturday. The meaning behind shabbat is to connect with God, Torah, and family. Jewish people generally do minimal if not any work during the hours of Shabbat, but Reform Jews typically do not follow the strict rabbinic rules on physical labor during Shabbat. Preparing the home for Shabbat is what brings meaning to the celebration. Preparations consist of preparing a special meal and setting the table as if a royalty is coming to dine. Traditional of Shabbat, people generally greet each other with phrases like gut Shabbos or have a good Shabbat and Shabbat shalom which is Hebrew for Shabbat peace. Candles are light to initiate the commencement of Shabbat. A minimum of two candles are required to represent the importance of the Shabbat in the Torahs Ten Commandments. In Reform Jewish homes, an importance is not placed at the time the candles are light unlike in more traditional Jewish homes. The ritual of Kiddush meaning sanctification is a requirement of Shabbat. The Kiddush consist of a piece from the story of the Creation story, a blessing over the wine, which is a symbol of peace and joy in Jewish culture, and a blessing over Shabbat itself. The Motzi which is as follows, Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, hamotzi lechem min Haaretz or Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread out of the earth should be recited by everyone sitting at the table once the Challot is uncovered. Challot is loaf of bread with a special twisted design used during special Jewish holidays and occasions. Blessing ones family, children, household, and life is an important aspect of Shabbat.

Pesach or more commonly known as Passover is one of the most important dates in the Jewish calendar because it is a day to remember how God liberated the enslaved Israelites from Egypt. Passover takes place over a seven- or eight-day period centering around the Seder a home service that consist of family meals and retelling stories from the book of Exodus. During this time, Jewish people eat no bread or leavened food. They also take time off work during the beginning and end of Passover but work in the middle.

Hanukkah is also an eight-day holiday that remembers the Jewish recapture of the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 164 BCE. This holiday does not have any strict requirement and Jews do not typically take off of work to celebrate. Traditions include lighting a candle each day on a Hanukkah menorah and playing with a dreidel.

The last two high Jewish holidays are Rosh Hannah and Yom Kippur. Rosh Hannah is celebrated as new year for repentance or sin and renewal. During this time many Jews make amends with relationship in their life and seek forgiveness for mistakes they carry. Finally, Yom Kippur is a day of fasting, confession and prayer. Fasting involves no eating, drinking, washing, wearing leather, sexual relations.

The Second Commandment states, You shall not make yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. This prohibits the construction of idols, or most artistic representation. Due to this, ceremonial objects are used in the Jewish culture to represent their religion artistically. Such as, candlesticks, Kiddush goblets, spice boxes, ornamented containers, silver crowns used to garnet Torah scrolls, and other objects used during Jewish ceremonies and rituals. Judaism does however have symbols and images recognizable to the religion. For instance, The Star of David is one of the most ubiquitous Jewish symbols. It is a six-pointed star, made up of two triangles that are meant to represent the union of heaven and earth. The two triangles symbolize man reaching up to God and God reaching down to man. A menorah is a seven-branched candelabrum made of gold that represents the continually lit ner Elohim or candle of God from ancient temple times. The Reform movement has never had any of its own distinctive symbols unique to its synagogues. It shares the popular display of Jewish symbols, such as the Star of David and the Tablets of the Ten Commandments.

Before visiting synagogue of Temple Judea, I conducted some preliminary research to get a better understanding of Reform Judaism. I found a webpage for Temple Judea that shared the synagogues mission and vision statement. They also provided viewers with an about us section that stated all member of the community were welcomed despite of age, race, religion, sexual orientation. Reading this statement made me feel much more at ease since I always thought of Judaism to be a very strict and law-based religion, but quickly learned the Reform division of Judaism was formed to create the balance between tradition and a changing society.

I attended a Friday evening Kabbalat Shabbat service. I was very intimidated entering the synagogue as its size is very large and elegantly decorated. Upon entering the sanctuary, I was greeted by a member of the synagogue with a shabbot shalom which I found to be very exciting as I knew that was a common term used in the Jewish community. I saw many men but not all weaning a kippah, as well a select few of women wearing a tallit. When researching why, I found that the use of a kippah a small round head covering, and tallit a prayer shawl, is optional amongst the Reform Jewish community for both men and women. I also noticed that the synagogue provided Jewish members with these garments upon entry if needed. The lobby also had a store where ritual items could be purchased, such as, candles, prayer books, kippot, tallit. When entering the sanctuary, I could clearly see where the Shabbat service would be held, this area is called the bimah. It is the most sacred place in the sanctuary, the Aron HaKodesh or the holy ark, which is where the Torah scrolls are located. The bimah also had a podium for service leaders to stand behind and chairs for them to sit on. The congregation is set up to face this area, as this is where the rabbi will deliver the service. Rabbi Judith l. Siegal lead the service using the prayer book Mishkan Tfilah which had prayers in Hebrew and English. The Friday evening Kabbalat Shabbat service also included the reading of six psalms and a poem. The service consisted of a lot of music even during the rabbis sermon, meant as a backdrop during prayer and meditation. The service also had many moments of standing and sitting. For example, Barchu is a call to prayer and during this prayer you bow when reciting the first word and stand straight up again after reciting the third word. During Torah service, when the Torah was brought out of the ark and carried through the sanctuary, the congregation stood as a sign of respect. They sat once the Torah cover was removed and placed over the Torah and stood again once the Torah was read and being dressed again. The entire experience was enlightening and felt very sacred. The Reform Judaism movement is growing in south Florida due to the areas diverse population. Reform Judaism appeals to a larger group of people due to its flexibility to traditional Jewish aspects.

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Judaism: Beliefs, Rituals, Celebrations And Symbols - Edubirdie

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