You are on page 1of 27 History is of the utmost importance in Judaism.

Whereas the sacred texts of most ancient religions focus on myths and philosophical concepts, the Jewish Bible is centered around historical narrative; and most Jewish holidays are intended to connect modern Jews with their historical ancestors and traditions. This article provides an overview of Jewish history from the biblical era to the modern day.

Historical and Religious Context

Judaism traces its history back to the creation of mankind, but the explicitly Jewish historical origins begin with Abraham and the Hebrews. According to the Torah, Abraham's home was the northern Mesopotamian town of Harran. Under God's command, Abraham migrated to the region of Canaan, which is roughly equivalent to modern Israel and Lebanon. For a time the Hebrews lived in servitude in Egypt, then returned to Canaan. The ancient Hebrew people were seminomadic herdsman and farmers, organized into tribes and living in Mesopotamia. Contributions of nearby cultures include a West Semitic concept of divine messengers, Old Babylonian and Hurro-Semite law, Mesopotamian cosmogony and primitive history, Canaanite language and mythological literature, and Egyptian hymns and wisdom literature. All of these cultures featured belief in creator and preserver gods, a system of ethics, and developed religious rituals. The head of the Canaanite pantheon was El, a powerful god depicted as both judgmental and compassionate.

Biblical Jewish History

The period of Jewish history designated by some historians as "Biblical Judaism" is the centuries covered by the narratives of the Tanakh, from the creation and primitive history of mankind to the last of the prophets in the 4th century BCE. The Tanakh tells the history of the Hebrew people from a religious viewpoint, beginning with the creation of mankind and ending with the words of the last of the prophets in the 4th century BCE. This period is often referred to by scholars as "Biblical Judaism." The Tanakh follows the Hebrew nation as it experiences cycles of favor and discipline by God. {1} God establishes successive covenants with humanity (Adam, Noah and Abraham) and issues an extensive set of laws (through Moses) by which the Hebrews are to be set apart as God's people. When they stray, God sends prophets and invading armies to bring them back to himself. "It is this particular claim-to have experienced God's presence in human events-and its subsequent development that is the differentiating factor in Jewish thought." {2}

Abraham and the Patriarchs (19th or 18th century BCE)

The biblical book of Genesis begins with a single, all-powerful God creating the world out of chaos in six days, with human beings created on the sixth day. Genesis goes on to chronicle an ancient history in which mankind repeatedly turns away from God and to immorality until God destroys the earth with a flood. God then makes a covenant with Noah, the one man saved from the flood, that he will never destroy the earth again. The specifically Hebrew element of biblical history begins with Abraham, who is considered the founder of the Jewish religion. However, he does not discover God but is rather called by the God who is already known into a covenant, in which God promises to many descendents and the land of Canaan. Modern scholarship has identified significant differences between the religion of Abraham and the patriarchs and the later Israelite religion of Moses. Historians note that the God of Abraham is referred to using generic, not specifically Israelite terms (namely, various forms of El), the Mosaic issues of divine jealousy and idolatry are virtually absent, and God's role is as a kind of patron deity who has bestowed his favor on Abraham. The religion of the patriarchs was simple, and centered on the agreement between Abraham and God. Religious practice consisted of sacrifice and prayer at a sacred altar, stone pillar, or sacred tree. Circumcision was the defining mark of the religious community. Its eschatology was the promise of land and many descendents.

From Egypt to Sinai: Moses and the Covenant

According to biblical tradition, a famine caused the Hebrew tribes to migrate to Egypt, where they were enslaved. God rescued them from bondage by afflicting the Egyptians with successive plagues then drowning the Egyptian army in the Red Sea to allow the Hebrews to escape. At Mount Sinai, God established the nation of Israel (named for Abraham's grandson Jacob) as his own, and gave them the terms of his covenant with them. He then sustains the Israelites through 40 years of journeying in the wilderness before leading them into Canaan, the land promised to Abraham. Central to all these events is Moses, who, like Muhammad, fulfills many leadership roles, including religious, political, legislative and military. This general sequence of events is accepted by most scholars as historically reliable. As one source explains, "To disallow these events would make their centrality as articles of faith in the later religious beliefs of Israel inexplicable." {3} Mosaic religion centers on the covenant between God and the people of Israel. The covenant required exclusive loyalty to Yahweh, who rescued them from bondage in Egypt. Worship of other gods, veneration of idols (even of Yahweh), and magical practices are prohibited. Rituals and festivals are established to celebrate God's historical and continuing provision.

Conquest of Canaan and the Judges

The conquest of Canaan is narrated in the biblical book of Joshua, with miraculous events (walls fell at a shout, the sun stood still) rivaling those of the Exodus. The process of occupation has been judged by scholars as more complex than that described in Joshua, incorporating a combination of military victories and treaty agreements. After the conquest of Canaan, Israel was led by leaders called "judges," during which time the Israelites are described as repeatedly falling into idolatry and apostasy. Figurines discovered in the Israelite levels of archeological digs in Palestine support such a report. {4} At the same time, numerous altars to the God of Israel sprung up, and the Levites rose to the priesthood to conduct sacrifices at many of them. The ark of the covenant was housed and carefully protected at the Shiloh sanctuary, which was staffed by priests of the family of Eli.

The United Monarchy under Saul, David and Solomon

To maintain occupation of the Promised Land, it became necessary to have centralized authority and organized armies that could hold off external enemies. Two diverging views of the prospect of a monarchy arose: a rejection of God's kingship (1 Sam. 8-12) or a God-given way to defend Israel (1 Sam. 9:16). The former view is represented by the prophet-judge Samuel, who reluctantly crowned the first king. Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin, was made king (in c. 1020 BCE) after defeating the Ammonites. He ruled from his hometown of Gibeah, a few miles north of Jerusalem. Saul's reign was marred by conflicts with the prophet Samuel, who held ongoing authority over the kingship. King David, Saul's successor, solved these problems by combining religious and political authority in one person (David and his descendents) and in one place (the city of Jerusalem). David was succeeeded by his son Solomon, whose history is recorded in 1 Kings 1-11 and 2 Chronicles 1-9. Solomon succeeded his father on the throne in early manhood, probably about sixteen or eighteen years of age. His father chose him as his successor, passing over the claims of his elder sons. His elevation to the throne took place before his father's death, and is hastened on mainly by Nathan and Bathsheba, in consequence of the rebellion of Adonijah. During Solomon's long reign of 40 years the Hebrew monarchy gained its highest splendour. This period has well been called the "Augustan age" of the Jewish annals. In a single year he collected tribute amounting to 666 talents of gold, according to 1 Kings 10:13. The first half of his reign was, however, by far the brighter and more prosperous; the latter half was clouded by the idolatries into which he fell, mainly, accordingh to the scribes, from his intermarriages. According to 1 Kings 11:3, he had 700 wives and 300 concubines. As soon as he had settled himself in his kingdom, and arranged the affairs of his extensive empire, he entered into an alliance with Egypt by a marriage with the daughter of Pharaoh.

The Divided Monarchy and Exile

After Solomon's reign the nation split into two kingdoms, Israel (in the north) and Judah (in the south). Israel was conquered by the Assyrian ruler Shalmaneser V in the 8th century BCE. The kingdom of Judah was conquered by a Babylonian army in the early 6th century BCE. The Judahite elite was exiled to Babylon, but later at least a part of them returned to their homeland, led by prophets Ezra and Nehemiah, after the subsequent conquest of Babylonia by the Persians. Already at this point the extreme fragmentation among the Israelites was apparent, with the formation of political-religious factions, the most important of which would later be called Sadduccees and Pharisees.

The Hasmonean Kingdom and the Destruction of the Temple

After the Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great, his demise, and the division of Alexander's empire among his generals, the Seleucid Kingdom was formed. A deterioration of relations between hellenized Jews and religious Jews led the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes to impose decrees banning certain Jewish religious rites and traditions. Consequently, the orthodox Jews revolted under the leadership of the Hasmonean family, (also known as the Maccabees). This revolt eventually led to the formation of an independent Jewish kingdom, known as the Hasmonaean Dynasty, which lasted from 165 BC to 63 BC. The Hasmonean Dynasty eventually disintegrated as a result of civil war between the sons of Salome Alexandra, Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II. The people, who did not want to be governed by a king but by theocratic clergy, made appeals in this spirit to the Roman authorities. A Roman campaign of conquest and annexation, led by Pompey, soon followed. Judea under Roman rule was at first an independent Jewish kingdom, but gradually the rule over Judea became less and less Jewish, until it became under the direct rule of Roman administration (and renamed the province of Judaea), which was often callous and brutal in its treatment of its Judean subjects. In AD 66, Judeans began to revolt against the Roman rulers of Judea. The revolt was defeated by the Roman emperors Vesesapian and Titus Flavius. The Romans destroyed much of the Temple in Jerusalem and, according to some accounts, stole artifacts from the temple, such as the Menorah. Judeans continued to live in their land in significant numbers, and were allowed to practice their religion, until the 2nd century when Julius Severus ravaged Judea while putting down the bar Kokhba revolt. After 135, Jews were not allowed to enter the city of Jerusalem, although this ban must have been at least partially lifted, since at the destruction of the rebuilt city by the Persians in the 7th century, Jews are said to have lived there. Various responses developed to Roman rule, ranging from armed revolt (the Zealots) or withdrawal from the world (the Essenes) to a renewed focus on preserving tradition in a new situation (the Pharisees), to integration with Greek society (the Sadduccees) and thought (Jewish Neoplatonists).

Rabbinical Judaism

Rabbinical Judaism developed out of the Pharasiac movement and in response to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. The rabbis sought to reinterpret Jewish concepts and practices in the absence of the Temple and for a people in exile. Aside from some small side movements (such as the Karaites), Rabbinical Judaism was the dominant form of the Jewish religion for nearly 18 centuries. It produced the Talmud, the Midrash, and the great figures of medieval Jewish philosophy.

The Fall of Rome

The Eastern Roman Empire, under assault from barbarian invasion, passed a number of laws in the early Middle Ages, including the legislation of Justinian which culminated in the principle of taking away civil rights from heretics and unbelievers and of making their existence as difficult as possible. The restrictive laws of Constantine and Theodosius were renewed with increased rigor. The public observance of their religion was forbidden the Jews. The loss of their civil rights was followed by disregard for their personal freedom. In the wars waged by the Iconoclasts (eighth and ninth centuries) the Jews especially had to suffer, and mostly at the hands of iconoclastic emperors who were suspected of being heretics with Jewish tendencies. Many Jews fled to the neighboring states of the Slavs and Tatars, which were just coming into existence, and found refuge and protection on the lower Volga and on the northern shores of the Black Sea in the realm of the Khazars. While the East-Roman empire was prolonging its inglorious existence by perpetual warfare with neighbors who were ever growing stronger, the Western Roman Empire fell prey to the barbarians. With the exception of the restrictive laws of the first Christian emperors, which still remained in force, the Jews were not troubled on account of their faith.

The Early Middle Ages

Not until the beginning of the ninth century did the Church succeed in drawing all humanity within her jurisdiction, and in bringing together and definitely settling the regulations in canonical law which the authority of the Church ordained for believers and their treatment of non-believers. Intercourse with Jews was almost entirely forbidden to believers, and thereby a chasm was created between the adherents of the two religions, which could not be bridged. On the other hand, the Church found herself compelled to make the Jew a fellow citizen of the believer; for she enforced upon her own communities the Biblical prohibition against usury; and thus the only way left open to her of conducting financial operations was to seek loans at a legally determined rate of interest from the adherents of another faith. Through these peculiar conditions the Jews rapidly acquired influence. At the same time they were compelled to find their pleasures at home and in their own circles only. Their sole intellectual food came from their own literature, to which they devoted themselves with all the strength of their nature. This was the general condition of the Jews in Western lands. Their fate in each particular country depended on the changing political conditions. In Italy they experienced dark days during the endless wars waged by the Heruli, Rugii, Ostrogoths, and Longobardi. The severe laws of the

Roman emperors were in general more mildly administered than elsewhere; the Arian confession, of which the Germanic conquerors of Italy were adherents, being in contrast with the Catholic characterized by its tolerance. Among the Burgundians and Franks, who professed the Catholic faith, the ecclesiastical sentiment, fortunately for the Jews, made but slow progress, and the Merovingian rulers rendered only a listless and indifferent support to the demands of the Church, the influence of which they had no inclination to increase. In the Pyrenean peninsula, from the most ancient times, Jews had lived peaceably in greater numbers than in the land of the Franks. The same modest good fortune remained to them when the Suevi, Alani, Vandals, and Visigoths occupied the land. It came to a sudden end when the Visigothic kings embraced Catholicism and wished to convert all their subjects to the same faith. Many Jews yielded to compulsion in the secret hope that the severe measures would be of short duration. But they soon bitterly repented this hasty step; for the Visigothic legislation insisted with inexorable severity that those who had been baptized by force should remain true to the Christian faith. Consequently the Jews eagerly welcomed the Arabs when the latter conquered the peninsula in 711. Those Jews who still wished to remain true to the faith of their fathers were protected by the Church herself from compulsory conversion. There was no change in this policy even later, when the pope called for the support of the Carolingians in protecting his ideal kingdom with their temporal power. Charlemagne, moreover, was glad to use the Church for the purpose of welding together the loosely connected elements of his kingdom when he transformed the old Roman empire into a Christian one, and united under the imperial crown all the German races at that time firmly settled. When, a few decades after his death, his world-empire fell apart (843), the rulers of Italy, France, and Germany left the Church free scope in her dealings with the Jews, and under the influence of religious zeal hatred toward the unbelievers ripened into deeds of horror.

The Crusades
The trials which the Jews endured from time to time in the different kingdoms of the Christian West were only indications of the catastrophe which broke over them at the time of the Crusades. A wild, unrestrained throng, for which the crusade was only an excuse to indulge its rapacity, fell upon the peaceful Jews and sacrificed them to its fanaticism. In the First Crusade (1096) flourishing communities on the Rhine and the Danube were utterly destroyed. In the Second Crusade (1147) the Jews in France suffered especially. Philip Augustus treated them with exceptional severity. In his days the Third Crusade took place (1188); and the preparations for it proved to be momentous for the English Jews. After unspeakable trials Jews were banished from England in 1290; and 365 years passed before they were allowed to settle again in the British Isles. The Jews were also subjected to attacks by the Shepherds' Crusades of 1251 and 1320.

Persecution and Blood Libel

The justification for these deeds was found in crimes laid to the charge of the Jews. They were held responsible for the crime imputed to them a thousand years before this; and the false charge was circulated that they wished to dishonor the host which was supposed to represent Jesus'

body. They were further charged with being the cause of every calamity. In 1240 the plundering raids of the Mongols were laid at their door. When, a hundred years later, the Black Death raged through Europe, the tale was invented that the Jews had poisoned the wells. The only court of appeal that regarded itself as their appointed protector, according to historical conceptions, was the "Roman emperor of the German nation." The emperor, as legal successor to Titus, who had acquired the Jews for his special property through the destruction of the Temple, claimed the rights of possession and protection over all the Jews in the former Roman empire. They thus became imperial "servi camer." He might present them and their possessions to princes or to cities. That the Jews were not utterly destroyed was due to two circumstances: (1) the envy, distrust, and greed of princes and peoples toward one another, and (2) the moral strength which was infused into the Jews by a suffering which was undeserved but which enabled them to resist persecution. The abilities which could find no expression in the service of country or of humanity at large, were directed with all the more zeal toward the study of the Bible and Talmud, toward ordering communal affairs, toward building up a happy family life, and toward bettering the condition of the Jewish race in general.

Everywhere in the Christian Occident an equally gloomy picture was presented. The Jews, who were driven out of England in 1290, out of France in 1394, and out of numerous districts of Germany, Italy, and the Balkan peninsula between 1350 and 1450, were scattered in all directions, and fled preferably to the new Slavic kingdoms, where for the time being other confessions were still tolerated. Here they found a sure refuge under benevolent rulers and acquired a certain prosperity, in the enjoyment of which the study of the Talmud was followed with renewed vigor. Together with their faith, they took with them the German language and customs, which they have cultivated in a Slavic environment with unexampled faithfulness up to the present time. As in Slavic countries, so also under Muslim rule the persecuted Jews often found a humane reception, especially from the eighth century onward in the Pyrenean peninsula. But even as early as the thirteenth century the Arabs could no longer offer a real resistance to the advancing force of Christian kings; and with the fall of political power Arabic culture declined, after having been transmitted to the Occident at about the same period, chiefly through the Jews in the north of Spain and in the south of France. At that time there was no field of learning which the Spanish Jews did not cultivate. They studied the secular sciences with the same zeal as the Bible and Talmud. But the growing influence of the Church gradually crowded them out of this advantageous position. At first the attempt was made to win them to Christianity through writings and religious disputations; and when these attempts failed they were ever more and more restricted in the exercise of their civil rights. Soon they were obliged to live in separate quarters of the cities and to wear humiliating badges on their clothing. Thereby they were made a prey to the scorn and hatred of their fellow citizens. In 1391, when a fanatical mob killed thirty thousand Jews in Seville alone, many in their fright sought refuge in baptism. And although they often continued to observe in secret the laws of their fathers the Inquisition soon rooted out these pretended

Christians or Maranos. Thousands were thrown into prison, tortured, and burned, until a project was formed to sweep all Spain clean of unbelievers. The plan matured when in 1492 the last Moorish fortress fell into the hands of the Christians. Several hundred thousand Jews were forced from the country which had been their home for 1,500 years. Many of them fled to the Balkan peninsula, where a few decades before the Crescent had won a victory over the Cross through the Osmanli Turks. These exiles have faithfully preserved the language of the country they were forced to leave; and to-day, after a lapse of more than 400 years, Spanish is still the mother tongue of their descendants.

The Enlightenment and Haskalah

During the period of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, significant changes were happening within the Jewish community. The Haskalah movement paralelled the wider Enlightenment, as Jews began in the 1700s to campaign for emancipation from restrictive laws and integration into the wider European society. Secular and scientific education was added to the traditional religious instruction received by students, and interest in a national Jewish identity, including a revival in the study of Jewish history and Hebrew, started to grow. Haskalah gave birth to the Reform and Conservative movements and planted the seeds of Zionism while at the same time encouraging cultural assimilation into the countries in which Jews resided. At around the same time another movement was born, one preaching almost the opposite of Haskalah, Hasidic Judaism. Hasidic Judiasm began in the 1700s by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, and quickly gained a following with its more exubarent, mystical approach to religion. These two movements, and the traditional orthodox approach to Judiasm from which they spring, formed the basis for the modern divisions within Jewish observance. At the same time, the outside world was changing. Though persecution still existed in some European countries (hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed in pogroms in the 18th and 19th centuries), Napoleon invited Jews to leave the Jewish ghettos in Europe and seek refuge in the newly created tolerant political regimes that offered equality under Napoleonic Law (see Napoleon and the Jews). At the same time, Jewish migration to the United States (see Jews in the United States) created a new community in large part freed of the restrictions of Europe.

The Holocaust
Anti-Semitism was common in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s (though its history extends far back throughout many centuries during the course of Judaism). Adolf Hitler's fanatical anti-Semitism was laid out in his 1925 book Mein Kampf, largely ignored when it was first printed, but which later became popular in Germany once Hitler acquired political power. On April 1, 1933 the recently elected Nazis, under Julius Streicher, organized a one-day boycott of all Jewish-owned businesses in Germany. This policy helped to usher-in a series of anti-Semitic acts that would eventually culminate in the Holocaust. The last remaining Jewish enterprises in

Germany were closed on July 6, 1939. In many cities throughout Europe, Jews had been living in concentrated areas. During the first years of World War II, the Nazis formalized the borders of these areas and restricted movement, creating modern ghettos to which Jews were confined. The ghettos were, in effect, prisons in which many Jews died from hunger and disease; others were executed by the Nazis and their collaborators. Concentration camps for Jews existed in Germany itself. During the invasion of the Soviet Union, over 3,000 special killing units (Einsatzgruppen) followed the Wehrmacht and conducted mass killings of Communist officials and of the Jewish population that lived on Soviet territory. Entire communities were wiped out by being rounded up, robbed of their possessions and clothing, and shot at the edges of ditches. In December 1941, Hitler finally decided to exterminate European Jews. In January 1942, during the Wannsee conference, several Nazi leaders discussed the details of the "Final Solution of the Jewish question" (Endlsung der Judenfrage). Dr. Josef Buhler urged Reinhard Heydrich to proceed with the Final Solution in the General Government. They began to systematically deport Jewish populations from the ghettos and all occupied territories to the seven camps designated as Vernichtungslager, or extermination camps: Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Maly Trostenets, Sobibr and Treblinka II.

Holocaust Aftermath and the State of Israel

The Holocaust and its aftermath left millions of refugees, including many Jews who had lost most or all of their family members and posessions, and often faced persistent anti-Semitism in their home countries. The need to find a homeland for the Jewish refugees led to many of them fervently joining the Zionist movement. Many Zionists, pointing to the fact that Jewish refugees from Germany and Nazi-occupied lands had been turned away by other countries, argued that if a Jewish state had existed at the time, the Holocaust could not have occurred on the scale it did. The sudden rapid growth of Zionism and the post-Holocaust displacement resulted in the emigration of a great many Jews to what became the modern State of Israel soon after. This immigration had a direct effect on the regional Arabs, many of whom firmly opposed a Jewish state in the Middle East. Some would say this stemmed from a lack of understanding of a need for a Jewish Homeland. While the Holocaust stands as a reminder that modern, "civilized" nations can engage in the most horrific of organized group behavior, it is also important to remember that during the Holocaust, many non-Jews risked (and often lost) their lives attempting to aid Jews and other victims of Nazi persecution, for no conceivable gain other than to satisfy their own consciences. In order to recognize these examples of the most noble of human behaviors among the most debased, the Israeli government through the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial set up a Righteous gentiles program to honor and memorialize as many of these heroic individuals as can be found. Unlike Christianity and Islam, Judaism has no official creed or universal doctrinal requirements for membership. In general, a person can be considered "Jewish" whether he adheres to a complete system of beliefs about God and the afterlife, holds only a few simple beliefs that give meaning to ritual, or even (at least in liberal Judaism) does not believe in God at all. This diversity in Jewish belief arises in part because actions (good deeds and the mitzvot), not beliefs, are the most important aspect of Jewish religious life. In addition, the term "Jewish" can be used to describe a race and a culture rather than a religion, so some who identify themselves as Jewish may have little interest in the beliefs and practices associated with the religion of Judaism. Nevertheless, the Torah and Talmud have a great deal to say about God, humanity, and the meaning of life, and Jewish history has seen significant theological and mystical inquiry into religious concepts. These beliefs are of great significance not only for Judaism itself, but also for their direct influence on Christianity and Islam, currently the two largest religions in the world. The 13 Articles of Faith As noted above, Judaism has no creed and beliefs of individual Jews can vary widely. However, the great 12th-century rabbi Maimonides put together "13 Articles of Faith" that he believed every Jew ought to adhere to, and this is often used as a summary of core Jewish beliefs. Jewish Beliefs about God In Judaism, ultimate reality is a single, all-powerful God. It is this belief that made the Jews unique among other ancient Semitic peoples and that became the legacy Judaism has passed on to the entire Western world. God's name in Hebrew is YHWH, which simply - but significantly - means "I am." Jewish Beliefs about the Messiah Many of the world's religions have hope in a future heroic figure who will rescue the righteous, judge the wicked, and restore peace to the world (Krishna in Hinduism, Maitreya in Buddhism and the Second Coming of Christ in Christianity). In Judaism, this figure is the Messiah. Jewish Beliefs about Human Nature When Genesis 2:7 says "God formed man," it uses the Hebrew word vayyitzer ("formed"). The Talmud finds special meaning in the unique spelling of the word in this context, with two yods instead of one. The two yods, the rabbis explain, stand for the two impulses found in humans: the yetzer tov and the yetzer ra. Olam Ha-Ba: Jewish Beliefs about the Afterlife Jewish sacred texts and literature have little to say about what happens after death, which may seem surprising to non-Jews since the sacred texts of Christianity and Islam, both of which have their foundations in Judaism,

elaborate rather fully about the afterlife.

Judaism is one of the oldest religions still existing today. It began as the religion of the small nation of the Hebrews, and through thousands of years of suffering, persecution, dispersion, and occasional victory, has continued to be a profoundly influential religion and culture. Today, 14 million people identify themselves as Jews, and nearly 3.5 billion others follow belief systems directly influenced by Judaism (including Christianity, Islam, and the Bah'ai Faith). Modern Judaism is a complex phenomenon that incorporates both a nation and a religion, and often combines strict adherence to ritual laws with a more liberal attitude towards religious belief. The central religious belief of Judaism is that there is only one God. Monotheism was uncommon at the time Judaism was born, but according to Jewish tradition, God himself revealed it to Abraham, the ancestor of the Jewish people. Beginning with Abraham, God has always taken special care of the Hebrews (who would later become the Jews). After rescuing them from slavery in Egypt, God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses, and many more religious and ethical guidelines in the Torah ("the Law"). Many of the guidelines (mitzvah) emphasized ritual purity and the importance of remaining set apart from the surrounding polytheistic cultures. Aside from its staunch monotheism, Judaism has few essential beliefs. Jewish identity arises primarily from belonging to an ancient people and upholding its traditions. Dogma, while important, is secondary. Although the medieval thinker Rabbi Maimonides once enumerated "13 Articles of Faith," many Jews do not accept all these, and Jewish beliefs vary widely on theological matters such as human nature and the afterlife. Divisions within Judaism, known as "movements," have developed in modern times as varying responses to secularism and modernity. Orthodox Judaism is the most conservative group, retaining nearly all traditional rituals and practices. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Reform Jews retain their Jewish identity and some traditions but take a liberal approach to many Jewish beliefs and practices. Conservative Judaism lies in the middle of the spectrum, taking a moderate approach in its application of Judaism to the modern world. Jews of all movement celebrate many special days throughout the year and throughout each person's life. Major religious holidays include Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Hanukkah, historically a minor holiday, has become more prominent in the last century for Jews who live in areas that celebrate Christmas. The Sabbath, a day of rest and worship at the synagogue, is observed each Saturday. In Judaism, all days begin at sunset, so all holidays begin at sundown and end at sundown. To recognize the role of God and the Jewish community in each person's life, numerous life cycle events are observed with traditional rituals. At the first Sabbath after the birth of a child, the proud father is called forward in the synagogue to recite blessings for mother and child. Eight days after birth, baby boys are circumcised.

At the age of 13 (12 for girls), a boy becomes a Bar Mitzvah, or "Son of the Commandment" and a girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah, "Daughter of the Commandment." The occasion is marked by the youth's first public reading of the Torah in the synagogue (only boys may do this in Orthodox congregations), followed by a large and joyous celebration. Jewish wedding ceremonies incorporate many ancient traditions and symbolic gestures (including the well-known breaking of glass), and divorces are obtained within the Jewish community. At death, a Jewish person's body is cared for by the chevra kiddisha, the "holy society," who wash the body and prepare it for burial. The deceased is treated with great respect and never left alone. After burial, the deceased's loved ones enter a formal period of mourning, which decreased gradually over the course of a year. The dead is then remembered and honored each year on the anniversary of death. In addition to these special days and ceremonies, the Jewish life is marked by regular religious observance. Each Saturday, Sabbath is observed by ceasing work and spending the day in worship at the synagogue and at home with family. The study of Torah and other Jewish scriptures is considered very important, and many Jewish children attend Hebrew school so they can study it in its original language. In everyday life, traditional Jews observe the laws of kashrut, eating only foods that God has designated "kosher." Among non-kosher, or prohibited, foods are pork, any meat that has not been ritually slaughtered, shellfish, and any meal that combines dairy with meat.

Jewish rituals and religious observances are grounded in Jewish law (halakhah, lit. "the path one walks." An elaborate framework of divine mitzvot, or commandments, combined with rabbinic laws and traditions, this law is central to Judaism. Halakhah governs not just religious life, but daily life, from how to dress to what to eat to how to help the poor. Observance of halakhah shows gratitude to God, provides a sense of Jewish identity and brings the sacred into everyday life.

The Mitzvot
The Hebrew word mitzvot means "commandments" (mitzvah is its singular form). Although the word is sometimes used more broadly to refer to rabbinic (Talmudic) law or general good deeds ("It would be a mitzvah to visit your mother"), in its strictest sense it refers to the divine commandments given by God in the Torah. Full article...

The 613 Commandments

The important Jewish philosopher Maimonides made a list of the 613 commandments he found in the Jewish Bible, and here they are. View list...

Rabbinic Law

In addition to the 613 mitzvot, Jewish law incorporates a large body of rabbinical rules and laws. These are considered just as binding as the mitzvot, although the punishments for violating them are less severe. Another difference is that it is possible, though unlikely, for the rabbinical laws to be changed, but no rabbi can change the Torah mitzvot. The rabbinical portion of halakhah falls into three groups: a gezeirah, takkanah, and minhag. Full article...

The Synagogue
The Jewish house of worship is a synagogue. The synagogue predates the destruction of the Second Temple, but it became central to religious life after the Temple was lost. The synagogue replaces ritual sacrifice with Torah readings, prayer and teaching. Full article...

Jewish Worship and Prayer

Guide to characteristics of Jewish worship and prayer, the weekday and Sabbath prayer services and etiquette for visitors. Full article...

Keeping Kosher: Jewish Dietary Laws

One of the most well-known Jewish religious practices is that of eating kosher foods. The laws of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws) may be puzzling or meaningless to the outsider, but they have held great meaning for the Jewish people throughout their history. Not only are they an opportunity for obedience to God, they also strongly contribute to Jewish unity and identity. Full article...

Like the rituals marking important events in the life cycle of each Jewish person, holidays are an important part of Jewish life. They help to keep tradition alive, contribute to a sense of community and belonging, remind believers of important historical events, and ensure regular reflection and celebration of the sacred. The most important Jewish holy days are the Sabbath, the three pilgrimage festivals (Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot) and the two High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). It is forbidden to work on any of these days.

Jewish Holiday Calendar 2007-2011

Table of dates of Jewish holidays for five years.

Shabbat: The Sabbath

Many people know that the Sabbath is Saturday, the day of the week on which Jews are forbidden to work. From the Jewish perspective, the Sabbath is not about rules but about joyful celebration and rest. Full article

Days of Awe
The Days of Awe are the 10 days from the beginning of Rosh Hashanah to the end of Yom Kippur. This important period, which occurs in the autumn, is devoted to introspection, repentance, and atonement for sin. Full article

Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights

Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah) is probably the Jewish holiday that non-Jews are most familiar with, due to its coincidental proximity to Christmas. It is not, however, the "Jewish Christmas" - it historically predates Christmas and is an entirely different celebration. Full article

Pesach: Passover
Passover is a spring holiday commemorating the Exodus - the liberation of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt in the time of Moses (circa 13th century BCE). Its observances, most of which are instituted in chapters 12 to 15 of the book of Exodus, include special dietary restrictions ("Kosher of Passover") and a special meal. Full article

Purim is a joyful spring holiday that features a festive meal, gift-giving, costumes, noisemakers in the synagogue, and required drunkenness. It is sometimes known to non-Jews as "the Jewish Mardi Gras" or "the Jewish Halloween." Full article

Rosh Hashanah: Jewish New Year

Rosh Hashanah means "head of the year" and is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. It is the day on which the year number changes, but unlike secular New Year celebrations, Rosh Hashanah is a solemn and holy time. It occurs on the first and second days of Tishri, which falls in September or October. Full article

Sukkot: Festival of Booths

Sukkoth is known by several names: the "Festival of the Ingathering" (Khag ha-Asif), the "Festival of Booths" (Khag ha-Sukkot); "The Festival" (Khag), and the "Season of Rejoicing" (Zeman Simkhateinu). Full article

Tu B'Shevat
Tu B'Shevat, or the "15th of Shevat," is the New Year for Trees. It is the day chosen to count the age of a newly-planted tree for the purposes of obeying a Levitical law. Over the years, the holiday has also developed into a day for celebrating (and enjoying) the fruit of the earth and focusing on care of the environment. Full article

Yom Kippur: The Days of Awe

Yom Kippur, celebrated on the 10th day of Tishri, is the most important and solemn of Jewish holidays. Yom Kippur is the occasion on which otherwise nonobservant Jews are most likely to attend synagogue, refrain from work, or fast. Full article

Difference Between Judaism and Islam

All About Islam

Could you explain the difference between Islam and Judaism as you did about Christianity? The way you outlined the differences was very clear. It appears to me that Islam tries to be more like Judaism. ___________________________________ Islam, like Christianity, accepts the Jewish Bible and is based largely upon Jewish ideas and traditions. The philosophical underpinnings of Islam, however, are more closely aligned with those of Judaism. Whereas Christianity incorporates the idea of the trinity, Islam believes in one all-powerful, infinite God.

Mohammed, the founder of Islam, based many of his beliefs on the practices of local Jewish population in his native Mecca. For example, the Moslem practices of not eating pig, circumcision, daily prayer and fasting during the first month of the year were all culled directly from Judaism. Since Islam was so similar to Judaism, Mohammed assumed the Jews would immediately accept this new religion. When the Jews did not live up to his expectations, he turned violently against them and many Jews died by the sword. (We are still suffering from this today; may there be peace soon.) The real difference between the two religions, however, lies in their basis for belief. Judaism is based on the unique historical event of a divine revelation experienced by the entire nation. Whereas Islam is based on the prophetic claims of a single individual who subsequently convinced others to follow his ways. Talmudic tradition says that while Abrahams son Isaac became the forefather of the Jewish people, the Islamic line is descended from Abrahams other son Ishmael. Maimonides states that the popularity of Christianity and Islam are part of Gods plan to spread the ideals of Torah throughout the world. This moves society closer to a perfected state of morality and toward a greater understanding of God. All of this is in preparation for the Messianic age.

Difference Between Islam and Judaism

Categorized under Islam,Miscellaneous,Religion | Difference Between Islam and Judaism

Islam vs Judaism

Religion has always been a delicate subject to discuss, considering the fact that people have their own set of opinions and beliefs. However, it is still good to learn about other peoples religions, so that we can treat them better, and more importantly, respect their own beliefs. You might be surprised at how people, despite having different religions, actually have the same beliefs in most aspects of life. Here, we will take a look at the difference between Islam and Judaism. What are the key differences between the two? Islam literally means submission to God. It is a religion which follows the teachings found in Quran, the book that gives the teaching of Allah, their God. They also follow the teaching of the prophet Muhammad. Those who practice Islam are known as Muslims, meaning, one who submits. They consider their religion to be the completed and universal version of monotheistic faith. Similarly, they follow the five pillars of Islam, which refers to the five duties that unite them as a community. Islam is the second largest religion in the world, and is predominant in the Middle East, North Africa and a large part of Asia. Judaism, on the other hand, is a religion which centers on the principle and ethics found in the Hebrew bible, known as Tanakh. It is believed to have started at the same time as the covenant of God and Abraham. Jews all over the world may practice different forms of Judaism, but the focus will still be on their core belief. That is, belief in divine revelation and the acceptance of the written and oral Torah, or Jewish Laws. Traditionally, Jews living in Muslim lands are given privileges to practice their religion, but are subject to certain conditions. This creates a complex relationship between Islam and Judaism. Jews lead an inferior status under the Islamic rule. Summary: 1. Islam is the religion followed by Muslims, while Judaism is followed by Jews. 2. Islams teaching is based on the Quran, while Judaisms ethics is a pattern from Tanakh. 3. Islam is governed by Allah and Muhammads teachings, while Judaism is rooted from the covenant of God and Abraham.

Islam & Judaism - Some Surprising Similarities

Were Jews and Arabs Destined To Hate Each Other?
By Harrell Rhome, M.Div, PhD 3-27-8 This is an updated version of a feature that first appeared in the March-April 2005 edition of The Barnes Review historical magazine. I am sure that some readers will take issue with my article, but it is presented in the interest of truth and understanding in a time of horrible and violent conflict on the world scene. World War Three seems to have already begun, and the central characters are not nation states, but religions and cultures, an example of what is called Fourth Generation Warfare. I am quite open to honest and respectful disagreement and dialogue; hence your comments are invited. See some of my other articles at Our state, church and media "authorities" most often tell us that Christianity, Judaism and Islam all worship the same God and thus share a connection. Indeed, they are dubbed the "three great monotheistic faiths" as if there is a true kinship or compatibility. While there are similarities and likenesses, it is the opinion of this writer that this must never be mistaken for true harmony. While many Christians seem to imagine that there is harmony, or at least the possibility thereof, this is not the case. Neither the Judaic Talmud nor the Koran allow for such a relationship. On the present-day scene with the Palestinian conflict, readers see the greatest animosity between Judaism and Islam. But as ironic as it may sound, there are surprising likenesses between the two religions. All three Semitic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam trace themselves back to Abraham. While the Judaic and Muslim Abrahamic traditions vary a bit (for instance, Abraham built the Kaaba in Mecca), little is really known about Abram/Abraham of ancient times. Did he actually exist or was this merely a personified archetype? In his Anacalypsis, Godfrey Higgins says that Abram/Abraham is merely a transliteration of the Indian Brahma. Whatever the case, as in other things I will show you, there is much more in common between the Abrahamic

traditions of Judaism and Islam than one might think. WAS MUHAMMAD DESCENDED FROM JUDAIZED ARABS? In his pre-prophet days, Muhammad was probably a "Hanif", a member of a sect claiming spiritual descent from Abraham. Moreover, several Arab tribes had adopted Judaism of some form. One (like the later Central Asian Khazars) became a Judaic kingdom for a time. The exact origin of the Jewish tribes of the Arabian Peninsula is debatable. Some say the ancient inhabitants of the Meccan district were descended from the Amalekites, Sabaens, Nabathaeans and other former Canaanite tribes peripheral to the Judeans, but who had adopted the Judaic religion. Some writers say that modern Jews, if not descended from the Turko-Mongol Khazar coverts of the 8th century, are largely the scions of Judaized Canaanites, part of the folk later called Sephardim, and related tribes. If we accept these claims, then the Arabized "Jews" would have been just as "Jewish" as most of the ones from Palestine who were, like the Herodian Idumean kings, interbred with Palestinians and Canaanites. At all settled spots in the Hejaz (Yathrib, Taima, Khaibar, Mecca and Taif) were colonies of Arabized Jews. While they maintained some elements of the faith of old Palestine, they spoke Arabic and some had adopted Arabic names. Many migrated into Spain and Portugal with the Islamic invasion in 711 A.D., where they were called Sephardim, which means "of Spain". When the Muslims were defeated in the Reconquista of the late 15th century, they and the Jews were forced to leave the country or convert. Most Muslims went back to their north African homelands, many Sephardic Jews, well settled and prosperous, often converted, taking Hispanic names. But, our focus is on an earlier time, when there was a close multicultural interaction between the Arabized Jews and the pagan, later Islamicized Arabs. Among several scholars who addressed the matter was British Arabist, D. G. Hogarth. "In the middle of the fifth century there were enough Jews even in Yemen to impose rule on the Himyar Highlands; and thence some of those found later in Hejaz may have come back with the Arab migrants. Others hailed from the Euphratean country and had been Arabized before leaving their homes. Among these it is worth remembering, were ancestors of the Meccan Kuraish (Muhammad's tribe) if a later Arab belief was well founded. The Caliph Ali, from whom we have it, was but a loose talker; and it is not inconsistent with the Prophet's claim to be an Arab of Arabs 'of the stock of Kuraish and the speech of Beni Saad', or with the general creed of Moslems ever since. But a grain of truth in it would help to explain the

remarkable commercial instinct and enterprise of the Kuraish, the outstanding capacity for (business and commercial) affairs shown by some of its families whose true origins had been forgotten by the Prophet's time." (Hogarth, D. G., Arabia (Oxford: At The Clarendon Press, 1922, pp. 6-7).) Presence of these Arabized Judaists would also account for the tradition of monotheism in an area of intense polytheism, and for its preference by Muhammad and those of the Kuraish tribe. Some say the monotheistic traditions were from Christian influences, but they are much older. In 1878, a Turkish Army Major, Osman Bey, penned a book, Jewish World Conquest, in which he addressed the origin of the Jews. "The Jews were, at one time, an Arab tribe, living like the other Arab tribes upon plunder and the productions of their herds. The Old Testament makes no statements from which we might gather the descent of the Jews from the Arabs. Arabic tradition, however, and especially the Koran, fixes the fact that Abraham (Ibraham-Allehi-Selam), an Arab patriarch, lived with his tribe and his herds in Arabia (Hiddjaz) and laid the foundation of the holy Raaba (Kiabeh) [Kaaba], the temple in Mecca, which has, at all times been the seat of monotheistic worship, and where, to this day, prayers are offered up to the God of Abraham, Ismael and Mohammed. We do not know the circumstances which induced Abraham to leave Arabia with his tribe but it was, doubtless, a desire to improve their condition which led the to emigrate. This assumption is all the more justified, as the same desire has, at all times, impelled the nomadic populations to invade the lands adjoining the Arabian peninsula. [Moreover, a similar religious heritage is clearly found] in the doctrines of the Talmud as well as the Koran two books that are a rich mine of Semitic ideas and traditions. Upon their departure from Arabia, Abraham and his people turned towards Mesopotamia. But their stay there was of short duration, the proverbial fruitfulness of the land of Canaan having attracted them. After their return from Egypt [presented by Osman as a stop along the way] the Jews fell with renewed rage upon the rich lands of Canaan, where they became wealthy and powerful at the expense of the native-born inhabitants." The very latest DNA genetic studies indicate a close relationship between Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews so close that it is quite difficult to distinguish one from the other. My unpublished paper, "Of Genes, Jews And Jumps To Judgment: Has Genetic Testing Closed The Question Of Jewish Origins?" deals more extensively with the genetic testing results. See also articles posted on <>, which

detail the very latest scientific research. While there is no room to do it justice in this essay, it is my position that the common genetic vector was interbreeding with the Turks. The Khazars converts of c.740A.D. were a Turkic-Mongol tribe, and the Arabs, Arabized Jews (or Judaized Arabs, whichever you prefer) and Jews of Palestine interbred with Turks during the long centuries of Ottoman rule. Hence, all of them share a genetic heritage in spite of the fact that the Ashkenazi Khazar convert Jews never set foot in Palestine until relatively modern times. CHRISTIAN INFLUENCES ON MUHAMMAD The old Israelite traditions and the later Talmudism were not the only influence on the founder of Islam. Some writers say that Muhammad was a Christian before creating his own strange religious blend, but there is no way to conclusively determine this. There was a Christian community that existed in Yemen when it was under Abyssinian rulers in the fourth century, with the exception of intervals of Jewish predominance. A Christian Bishop is said to have preached with great eloquence in Mecca, and was heard by Muhammad. Even the great pantheon of pagan gods and goddesses in the pre-Islamic Kaaba was influenced by Judaic and Christian monotheistic beliefs. Hogarth tells us: "The story that an icon of the Byzantine Virgin was associated in the Kaaba with the female idols of the Arabs, Uzza and Allat, should not be lightly dismissed; and there is some reason to suspect that Allah himself was not older at Mecca than the advent of the (Judaized) Kuraish." Once again, the commercial acumen of the tribe is important to remember. "The Meccans were in the exceptional position of being able to make more out of polytheistic paganism than any of them expected to make by monotheism." They introduced the traditions that the Zemzem well and the Kaaba were established by Abraham, father of the Semites. "But one suspects that the well had known a goddess before it knew a god. Even in the local legend, Abraham finds an old woman in possession. If the Kuraish imported Allah, who some think was the particular god of their tribe, they may well have imported Abraham too." And this was very profitable. "The lodgement and supply of Pilgrims seem to have been regulated on a fixed system; and their annual resort was an active cause of commercial and political relations with other communities." While Taif and Yathrib were rivals, they lacked the organization of Mecca. Petra was no longer a rival either as it lay well outside the peninsula or was already in decay. (See Hogarth.)

THE KORAN SPEAKS ON AND JEWS CHRISTIANS As most readers are probably unfamiliar with the Koran, the following section is presented for your enlightenment. Essentially and fundamentally, the Koran allows for no other religions. Pagans are particularly despised, as the present-day animists of southern Sudan know, as well as the equally despised Christians of that sad region. The destruction of the centuries-old Buddha statues by the Afghan Taliban represents how a Muslim, strictly speaking, should handle such pre-Islamic barbarism. "The People of the Book," that is, Jews and Christians, are to be tolerated (barely) but taxed. As are critics of any religion, I will be inevitably accused of taking all of this out of context. Yet that conclusion begs the basic question of why the verses are there in the first place. For hundreds of millions of Muslims, they are the irrevocable words of Allah, and for the Islamist extremists and jihadis, they are of crucial importance. With that said, please consider the following texts. (Suras, Chapters and Ayahs, verses taken from Abdullah Yusuf Ali's translation on the Radio Islam website.)

2:62. Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. 2:113. The Jews say: "The Christians have naught (to stand) upon; and the Christians say: "The Jews have naught (To stand) upon." Yet they (Profess to) study the (same) Book. Like unto their word is what those say who know not; but God will judge between them in their quarrel on the Day of Judgment. 2:120. Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee unless thou follow their form of religion. Say: "The Guidance of God,-that is the (only) Guidance." Wert thou to follow their desires after the knowledge which hath reached thee, then wouldst thou find neither Protector nor helper against God. 2:135. They say: "Become Jews or Christians if ye would be guided (To salvation)." Say thou: "Nay! (I would rather) the Religion of Abraham the

True, and he joined not gods with God." 2.140. Or do ye say that Abraham, Isma'il Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes were Jews or Christians? Say: Do ye know better than God? Ah! who is more unjust than those who conceal the testimony they have from God? but God is not unmindful of what ye do! 4:46. Of the Jews there are those who displace words from their (right) places, and say: "We hear and we disobey"; and "Hear what is not Heard"; and "Ra'ina"; with a twist of their tongues and a slander to Faith. If only they had said: "What hear and we obey"; and "Do hear"; and "Do look at us"; it would have been better for them, and more proper; but God hath cursed them for their Unbelief; and but few of them will believe. 4:160. For the iniquity of the Jews We made unlawful for them certain (foods) good and wholesome which had been lawful for them;- in that they hindered many from God's Way;5:15. From those, too, who call themselves Christians, We did take a covenant, but they forgot a good part of the message that was sent them: so we estranged them, with enmity and hatred between the one and the other, to the day of judgment. And soon will God show them what it is they have done. 5:20. (Both) the Jews and the Christians say: "We are sons of God, and his beloved." Say: "Why then doth He punish you for your sins? Nay, ye are but men,- of the men he hath created: He forgiveth whom He pleaseth, and He punisheth whom He pleaseth: and to God belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between: and unto Him is the final goal (of all)" 5:44. O Apostle! let not those grieve thee, who race each other into unbelief: (whether it be) among those who say "We believe" with their lips but whose hearts have no faith; or it be among the Jews,- men who will listen to any lie,- will listen even to others who have never so much as come to thee. They change the words from their (right) times and places: they say, "If ye are given this, take it, but if not, beware!" If any one's trial is intended by God, thou hast no authority in the least for him against God. For such - it is not God's will to purify their hearts. For them there is disgrace in this world, and in the Hereafter a heavy punishment.

5:47. It was We who revealed the law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the prophets who bowed (as in Islam) to God's will, by the rabbis and the doctors of law: for to them was entrusted the protection of God's book, and they were witnesses thereto: therefore fear not men, but fear me, and sell not my signs for a miserable price. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what God hath revealed, they are (no better than) unbelievers. 5.54. O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily God guideth not a people unjust. 5:72. Those who believe (in the Qur'an), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians and the Christians,- any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness,- on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. 5:85. Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant. WHEN CONVERSION FAILS, JIHAD IS THE NEXT STEP Because of his Christo-Gnostic-Judaic-quasi-Abrahamic influences, Muhammad naturally expected Christians and Jews, and more especially, those of the Arab-Jewish tribes, to see the light and convert to his new revelation. Surely, thought Muhammad, they will follow me and recognize Allah, but of course, they did not. Then as now, Jews of any kind are most averse to conversion. When these conversion efforts miserably failed, jihad became the chosen strategy. As well as ridding the newly conquered Islamic lands of the idolater-Christians, Muhammad later annihilated the JewishArab tribes of North Africa in one of the first bloody Islamic Jihads. This is a characteristic of Islam. The Ones In Submission to Allah (Muslims) must tolerate the infidels only for so long. Infidels must be given a chance to convert, but if they refuse, then conversion by conquest through holy war (jihad) is seen as not only legitimate, but demanded by the Koran. Even so, this should be judged in context. As exemplified amply in the Old

Testament, and foreshadowing the Christian Crusaders yet to come, early Islam follows an ancient [Abrahamic and later Mosaic] tradition of holy war and murder in the name of a god. Sir Richard Burton said, "And did Moses disdain to place carnal weapons in the hands of his people? The great Lawgiver of Israel sanctioned the murder in cold blood of women and child captives. Even kings were hewed in pieces before the Lord." (The Jew, The Gypsy And El Islam, 1898.) This is a fascinating line of inquiry to follow as it leads to the conclusion that what we today know as jihad has both Mosaic and Talmudic-Jewish roots. One of many famous stories about Muhammad concerns an attempted poisoning by a Jewess. After this, not to mention the consistently unrelenting and often bitter rejections by the Jews, he finally gave up on converting them. Muslims were then told to face Mecca for prayer, where previously, they faced Jerusalem. OTHER RITUAL SIMILARITIES To some degree, both early Islam and early Christianity may be seen as efforts to reform, purify and unify Judaic and pre-Judaic Hebrew-Israelitish beliefs. But while the church gave up most Mosaic and later Talmudic/Pharisaic law codes, circumcision, ritual foods, and the like, Islam did not. As a matter of fact, ritual food preparations are almost identical. Muslim Halal food may be substituted when a Talmudic Kosher meal is not available, and vice versa. Both the Orthodox Jew and the devoutly observant Muslim prefer the unshaved beard, though the Islamists omit the Hasidic forelocks. Most mosques, like Orthodox synagogues, separate male and female worshippers. Women are not really regarded very highly in either faith. The Jewish Sabbath begins on Friday evening. Islam has no real Sabbath but Friday, often in the evening, became the day when a Mullah or Imam preaches a sermon and reads from the Koran. Islam, like Judaism, has no liturgical music or dance (except in Sufi mystical sects). A mosque (masjid in Arabic) and a synagogue have no statues or images. They are plain and unadorned so that worshippers are not distracted. If there is any central element other than the pulpit, it is a copy of the respective scriptures. The scriptures of Islam and Judaism have a similar place in both religions. We have the Koran, which has ample texts refuting or abrogating ("abridging" say the Muslims) others, and the Talmud, which is notorious for splitting legalistic hairs. Since the Koranic chapters are arranged by length, there is no way to tell which text might have come first. And then we have the Hadith ("Traditions"), which function something like the Talmud, as a guide or secondary scriptures, to interpret, perhaps to get around, avoid

and evade, what is found in the Koran. Looking at clergy of all religions, a Mullah is more akin to the rabbinical model, as he is, above all, a judge, an interpreter of the Sharia of Allah just as the Rabbi interprets the Torah and Talmud. Sharia Law operates like Rabbinical Talmudic Law. One submits disputes to a court of Mullahs (the word means judge) and Koranic scholars who decide the case. This is essentially the same as a Judaic beit din court in which Rabbis and scholars determine the results. Both Judaism and Islam might be best described as legal systems as much as religions. MORE LIKENESSES In another interesting parallel, one most often changes his or her name after converting to either Islam or Orthodox Talmudism. Practically every convert to Islam changes their name, and some Jews do the same. Proper immigrants to Israel have the right to adopt a Jewish name when moving there. There are other similarities as well, but lately on TV, some of them are uncannily mirrored in rituals and educational practices. Koranic study, like Talmudic study, is intense. If he (like Jews, women are not encouraged to study scripture) learns to recite the Koran from memory, a Muslim then bears the honorific, Hafiz. Watch the young Islamic boys at Madrassah schools in their skullcaps swaying back and forth reciting the Koran just as Jewish boys in yarmulkes recite Judaic scriptures at the Yeshiva. The Jewish swaying and nodding is often seen at the "Wailing Wall" in Jerusalem. Burial practices are similar as well. The actual rites are simple -- what we see on TV at Muslim martyr-funerals are the public parts, heavily politicized, especially the parade with the ubiquitous martyr photo (posing for this is a big deal accompanied by a celebration) plastered on big posters carried by the mourning crowd, always accompanied by a cacophony of ululating Muslim women. Muslims, as do the Orthodox Talmudist Jews, inter the body very quickly after the death. Formerly, all three religions forbade usury. Christianity gave this up in the 1500s, and Talmudic Jews can practice all the usury they want with nonJews, but Islamic banking still holds to the non-usurious model. Naturally, the international banking and trade cartel would like to suppress and destroy this rival system, but seem to be content with merely co-opting it. Whether Interest is charged or not, every culture must have money, and money comes through the international banking cartel. Again, this is a topic worth further exploration as the Islamic banking system could provide a useful nonusurious paradigm.

In another likeness, both Jews and Muslims are quite exclusive, essentially regarding those who do not practice their true religion as heathens at best and cattle/goyim sub-humans at worst. One who has submitted to the purity of Islam does not make friends or confidants of such types. Strongly echoing the Talmud, the Koran says: "O ye who believe! Take not Jews and Christians for your friends and protectors; they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them is of them. Verily, Allah guideth not a people unjust." (Sura 5:51) Think of this verse, then think of all the trouble Islamic countries have with U.S. military and cultural presence in Muslim lands. No wonder Osama bin Laden and many others think that the Saudi royals apostacized and betrayed the Koran by allowing American military protectors on holy soil. And perhaps the highlighted part of the verse is not so far off base when one thinks of the "Judeo-Christian" pro-Zionist U.S.A. and its backing of Israeli state terrorism against Palestinians. CONCLUSION There are other ironic and incongruous similarities between the two religions as well, but this short survey will have to suffice for now. As said in the beginning, readers should in no way mistake the likenesses for harmony and tolerance. However, we must note that before the Palestinian conflict, Muslims, Jews and Christians lived in relative peace with one another all over the Middle East, especially in Palestine and other areas of the old Ottoman Empire. While they were never truly equals, there was, more or less, an atmosphere of tolerance. All of this changed radically and perhaps irrevocably with the establishment of the artificially contrived Zionist ministate mistakenly called Israel. While ignored by the media, more than a few Orthodox believers do not support the Zionist state and view it as having a negative impact on the world scene. One of the most prominent Orthodox movements, the Neturei Karta Torah True Jews, proposes peace by dismantling the ministate, saying its existence is the greatest danger to Jews all over the world. But even if this most unlikely scenario should occur, the present-day severe hatreds and animosities would, at best, take generations to heal.