Judaism as an identity has become a different concept than Judaism as a religion. Skepticism has formed as a result of advances in science and industrialization, and religion has changed. Judaism is unique in its definition of what makes one Jewish: rather than being based on belief and practice, it is based primarily on descent. To say that you are Jewish could mean that you practice the Jewish religion. However, it could also mean that you trace your heritage to Jewish roots, and identify with the culture of the Jewish people.The laws and practices of Judaism have evolved throughout history. As a group that has long been without a homeland, Jews have been forced to learn to adapt and grow in the communities in which they live and raise their families. The way in which one practices their religion is often based on influences around them and on what they decide their fundamental values and beliefs are.
[...] RELIGION “When the spirit of modernity broke the walls of the ghetto and the religion of the Jews was confronted with the secular gains of the centuries, it was found to be largely a survival, unequipped, indeed, unfit, to cope with the problems of adjustment in an environment where science, humanism, democracy and industry were the prevailing social aspirations and the increasingly prepotent social powers” (Kallen 2). The laws and practices of Judaism have evolved throughout history. As a group that has long been without a homeland, Jews have been forced to learn to adapt and grow in the communities in which they live and raise their families. [...]
[...] Hasidic people consider themselves entirely dedicated to being a pious Jew. Their lives are shaped around their religion, rather than their religion being a side-thought of their daily lives. Judaism is their main focus, rather than their career or their secular communities. The biggest divide in American forms of Judaism is between Orthodox and non- Orthodox. “Non-orthodox Judaism arose in response to Jewish participation in mainstream, secular civilization” (29). Non-orthodox Judaism accepts that there is change in the world, and therefore changes must be made within religion. [...]
[...] With the many movements of Judaism in America and abroad, the confusing question can remain: what is the central factor that brings all members of the Jewish community together? This can very easily be answered with one word: identity. Regardless of what a Jew believes or practices, there is no denying the fact that he has a Jewish identity. THE JEWISH IDENTITY covenant was made with the Jewish people, that is, with the descendants of the Patriarch Abraham. The Jews therefore understand themselves primarily as a nation. [...]
[...] Only at times when resurgent anti-Semitism alarms them do they think again of the religion of the Jews” (Kallen 3). The Holocaust is the most prominent example of anti-Semitic ideas being put into real action. Six million Jews were murdered as a result of simply being Jewish, leading one to question why this would happen, and what it means to a Jewish person. The Holocaust forced many Jewish people to realize that their ethnic Jewish heritage is a real part of their identity. Regardless of how assimilated into their communities they may be: they will always be Jewish. [...]
[...] Similarly, in a world where a Jew is often faced with anti-Semitism, they feel compelled to defend their faith. Over time, Jewish identity has overtaken the aspects of faith and tradition contained in religious teachings. In the secular society we live in today, it is not surprising that many Jewish people are non-religious. When an American citizen thinks seriously about where in the world he would most like to live, most would come to the conclusion in the end that it would be the United States. [...]
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