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This research seeks to investigate the concept of Judaism such as the Jewish practices and contemporary Judaism. In addition, it establishes the definition of Judaism and how it came into been. The research establishes how contemporary Judaism differs from the ancient practices of Judaism. This research is important because, matters of religion have vital significance to the society. It is also important as it educates people who do not subscribe to Judaism concerning the Judaism practices. Several researches on Judaism have taken place by individual researchers and institutions on the topic. The scholars have more or less agreed on my topic, and my paper argues for a better interpretation.
A comparative case study is the methodology employed in this research. The comparative case study aids in the topic of discussion, entailing contemporary Judaism and Jewish practices. The comparative case study fits because of abundance of information, and by referring to previous studies and researches; this research ascertains several points made concerning Contemporary Judaism and Jewish practices. In addition, it establishes the origin of Judaism, its composition in the world and what influences their beliefs and practices.
Judaism entails the Jewish peoples' way of life, religion, and philosophy. Judaism originated from the Hebrew Bible. The Jews consider Judaism as an expression of the covenantal relationship the Children of Israel developed with God. Research establishes that Judaism has exited close to 3000 years, and it is a monotheistic religion. The Hebrews and Israelites form the Jews. The term Jews replaced the title "Children of Israel". Judaism is an ethno religious group. It consists of individuals born Jewish and others who converted into the religion.
According to research, Halakhic traditions, moral principles and central Jewish principles guide the Jewish ethics or practices. The Jewish practices contain values such as truth, loving-kindedness, justice, peace, compassion, self-respect and humility. Jewish practices include keeping off negative speech, engaging in charity activities and maintenance of proper ethical practices concerning sexuality. Other Jews practices cause dispute among them (Fine, 2001).
Firstly, as a Jew, a person has to recite prayers three times in a day. This is according to the Jews traditions. Communal prayers appeal more to Jews than solitary prayers. The communal prayers consists a minimum of ten Jews adults. Secondly, the Jews use different clothing or different functions. They have four types of religious clothing, which include a slightly rounded brimless skullcap adorned during prayers, eating, studying of Jewish religious texts and the reciting of blessings (Fine, 2001). The second garment is a prayer shawl worn by men and women in prayer services. Thirdly, Phylacteries worn in morning prayers during the weekdays by observant Jewish men and women and lastly, white knee-length over garment adorned by prayer leaders and observant traditional Jews during high holidays.
The third Jewish practice is the observance of the Jewish holidays such as creation, redemption and revelation. This Jews holidays seem important to Jews as they represent moments in the Jewish history. Fourthly, the Jews practice Shabbat. This is their day of rest in a week reflecting God's day of rest after creation (Milgram, 2004). The Jews people have to observe several rituals on this day such as the woman of the house reciting a blessing besides two or more lit candles, reciting a prayer while serving the evening meal and all Jews not engaging in any form of work on this day. Another Jews practice is the observance of dietary laws. They consume food only prepared according to them. They refer to their food as Kosher.
The life cycle events are vital to Jews as it strengthens their identity and binds them with their community. The Jews also have several festivals that they observe. For instance, Hanukkah represents the festivals of light, which is an eight-day Jewish holiday commencing on the 25th day of the Hebrew calendar. The other holidays or festivals observed by Jews include the Three Pilgrimage festivals and the High Holy days (Milgram, 2004).
Research reveals that contemporary Judaism differs from the main branch in terms of practices but not belief. The other divisions developed recently in comparison to the main branch. Initially, Judaism was a European religion. However, this ended with Holocaust. Those who identify as Jews fall under one of the three main groups, which are the Orthodox, Reformed or Conservative Jews. Research asserts that Orthodox Judaism is branch of Judaism that abides by Judaism old laws. For instance, they prefer using the Hebrew Bible as it represents God's revealed word and the Talmud signifying legitimate oral law. Those subscribing to this faith believe in achieving closeness with God by use of traditional rabbinical Halakhah (Kaplan, 2009).
The Reformed Judaism has its roots in Germany. This branch was an attempt to modernize the Jews as it tried to switch their thoughts of Judaism as meaningless, repugnant and antiquated. The Reformed Judaism resulted to change is some aspects of Judaism. These aspects include the introduction of choirs, shortening of the Sabbath service and imitation of Christian churches (Solomon, 2009). The Reformed Judaism subscribes to the Revealed Torah.
Conservative Judaism is the third branch, and considered a reaction or response to the early reformers. This branch is more popular in the United States and reflects intermediate thoughts of Judaism. Research asserts that Conservative Judaism subscribes fully to traditional rabbinical Judaism while slowly embracing the modern terms. They do that in order to appear as embracing change and not a dead historical religion. Conservative Judaism sponsors critical studies of Jewish texts so that it can appeal to those who intend to join Judaism. They brought the introduction of women ordination as rabbis and allowed people to ride to services (Solomon, 2009).
Reconstructionism forms part of contemporary Judaism. Research establishes that this branch started because of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan branching of from Conservatism. He branched from Conservatives as they rejected his ideas terming them too radical. According to Kaplan, Judaism required strong measures for its preservation in the face of rationalism. Kaplan facilitated the writing of a new prayer book for this branch that excluded the offensive reference to women and the Gentiles. This branch accepts women to participate fully in Synagogue activities.
The other branches include the Messianic Judaism and Secular Jewish Humanism. The Secular Jewish Humanism identifies with the religion and observe some traditions but eschew the religious practice. On the other hand, Messianic Judaism is the branch rejected by all the other branches. This is because the branch practices Christian ideas and beliefs. Their religion depends on Jesus teachings (Kaplan, 2009).
In conclusion, Jew's practices include their food, form of clothing and observance of several holidays vital to their religion. Contemporary Judaism comprises of different branches such as Conservatism, Reformed and the Orthodox. The branches differ in practices but not in belief. All the other branches reject the Messianic Judaism because it subscribes to Christian beliefs and depend on Jesus' teachings.