Jews are cool Essay

This essay has a total of 2375 words and 11 pages.


jews are cool





ZIONISM AND ZIONISTS
In the years just after World War II, Zionism (the desire to rebuild a Jewish national
presence in the Promised Land) became a popular Jewish cause all around the world. Many
Jews who were not practicing Judaism at all with religion became involved with the
establishment of the State of Israel. Even today, many years after the successful founding
of the State of Israel, there are Jews whose only real tie to Judaism is their belief in
Zionism and their support for the State of Israel. They are joined by many Jews who are
members of synagogues and support a modern Jewish religious movement, but who also find
their prime identity as Jews in the Zionist cause.

Broadly speaking, Zionists are proud that a small and struggling state made up mainly of
Jews has created a modern democracy out of what were barren mountainsides, near deserts,
and mosquito-breeding marshes. Zionists also point with pride at the ability of the
Israelis to defend their land against the claims and armies of neighboring Arab nations.



SECULAR JUDAISM
Secular Jews express their Jewish identities in a variety of ways. Some feel attached to
the State of Israel, but their Zionist leanings are not a strong driving force in their
lives. Some feel a tie to Jewish religion and attend religious services from time to time,
often on the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur , but they do not maintain a
lifelong membership in a synagogue or temple. Some secular Jews express their identity
through study sometimes returning to the study of Judaism in their later years, sometimes
seeing study as a way of searching for their roots. Often, secular Jews look for
spirituality——sometimes turning to Jewish ideas and practices, even if they never fully
return to the religious practices of their ancestors.

Some few Jews are ideologically secular. They may be atheists who do not believe in the
existence of a god. Or they may be agnostics, unsure of whether or not God exists. Among
religions, Judaism is somewhat unique in that it makes room for both atheists and
agnostics to remain Jewish. It is often pointed out that there is no positive commandment
in the Torah requiring a Jew to believe in God. When it comes to belief, the Torah
commands that Jews adhere to the laws of the covenant, which means that idolatry (the
belief in many gods) is forbidden. But a person can theoretically live an exemplary Jewish
life without a belief in God. Moreover, connection with the Jewish people is determined by
birth, not by belief. If a person is born a Jew (or converts to Judaism), he or she is
identified as a Jew. There is no question about this. Even the most religious Jew accepts
birth (or conversion) as the only criteria for membership in the Jewish people.


ORTHODOX JUDAISM
Religious Jews today disagree on what Judaism is and what it should be. Orthodox Jews
claim to hold the true religion of Judaism. In fact, Orthodoxy only began to organize and
solidify its beliefs in the nineteenth century, in direct response to the Reform movement.
To this day, there is less agreement among Orthodox Jews about what being Orthodox
means——especially about how particular laws should be followed——than there is disagreement
in any of the other modern movements. So, for example, the State of Israel has two
““chief”” rabbis to serve the Orthodox——one of them serving the style of Orthodoxy
(Ashkenazi) that developed in Europe and the other serving the style of Orthodoxy
(Sephardi) that developed in what today are primarily Arab lands. Among Ashkenazi Jews,
many of the Orthodox follow the laws of the Torah as explained and expanded in a
multi-volume code of Jewish law called the Shulchan Aruch that was written by Rabbi Joseph
Karo in the sixteenth century.

Generally, all Orthodox Jews believe God gave the entire Torah to Moses at Mount Sinai in
two parts——the written Torah that contains the 613 mitzvot and the spoken Torah, the oral
traditions and explanations later recorded in the work of the rabbis and sages of the
Talmud. Orthodox Jews wear a small head covering called a Kippah or Yarmulke at all times.
Orthodox Jews are required to offer three prayer services each day (one in the morning and
two offered jointly in the late afternoon/early evening), though women are excused from
this obligation so they may carry on with their tasks of running a household and raising a
family. For the same reason, women are not often encouraged to continue or excel in their
Jewish studies.

For the most part, Orthodox children are trained in Jewish parochial schools that teach
not only the full range of state required subjects but also Jewish subjects such as Hebrew
and Aramaic (and sometimes, Yiddish), Talmud, Jewish history, and Prayerbook. Those
Orthodox Jews who go on to become rabbis study at special colleges called Yeshivot
(singular: Yeshivah).

For various reasons, the Orthodox movement is the least organized of the modern Jewish
religious divisions, with several national associations claiming primacy. In some parts of
Europe——and certainly in the State of Israel, where the majority of the citizens identify
as either secular or Zionist——Orthodoxy is the largest movement. In the United States,
however, the Orthodox movement is far smaller than either its Reform or Conservative
counterparts.


REFORM JUDAISM
Reform Judaism had its beginnings in Germany in the early nineteenth century. Almost
immediately, it met with stiff political resistance from the traditional establishment
that enjoyed the support of the German government. Though the number of Reform synagogues
grew steadily in Europe, its success there was limited compared to its success among Jews
in the United States, where there was no connection between the organized Jewish community
and the government.

Born in a time when scientific and critical study began to triumph over superstition and
entrenched thinking, Reform Jews believe that the Torah was written and edited by human
beings (though some profess the belief that the Ten Commandments were written by Moses and
given to the people at Mount Sinai). Nonetheless, Reform Jews generally believe that the
Torah and its ideas are inspired.

Reform Judaism does not hold that one must wear a kippah, or that one must pray three
times a day. The emphasis in Reform Judaism is on ethics: how a Jew should behave. But
even when it comes to ethics, Reform Judaism does not follow a single guidebook. Instead,
Reform Jews are required to study as much as possible and to make intelligent choices
based on what they have learned. Reform Jews generally send their children to afternoon or
Sunday schools in addition to regular public schools. In these religious schools, children
study the beliefs and practices of Reform Judaism, Jewish history, customs and ceremonies,
and so on.

Reform rabbis are not trained in yeshivot but attend a special graduate school called the
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (with branches in New York, Los Angeles,
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