Running head: THE BINDING RELIGION OF JUDAISM
THE BINDING RELIGION OF JUDAISM
The Binding Religion of Judaism
San Diego High School of International Studies
This essay displays the way Judaism has bound people together based on common beliefs and practices throughout history. It also shows a brief history on how Judaism began, and how that ties into the ways Jews feel connected to their religion. When you are Jewish, it is not just your religion, it is your identity and culture. Thus, Jews have gained a strong community with distinct cultural traditions over time. Although the Jews have faced countless obstacles in history, their common beliefs have proven stronger than any issues they have suffered from.
The Binding Religion of Judaism
Throughout history, Jews have had to unite under a common heritage and face an abundance of similar issues. To be considered a “Jew” typically means to be born into the religion since Judaism usually relates to both ethnicity and religion. Likewise, being a Jew is part of one’s identity as Neusner (2002) acknowledges, Jews usually share a common history and see themselves as “as community of fate, not of faith”. Thus, one of the main purposes of Judaism is to bind people together in common practices and beliefs.
Judaism binds people under the belief that they are the chosen ones by God. To elaborate, they believe that God appointed them to spread his ethics and beliefs throughout the world, by addressing a man named Abraham, with whom God made a covenant. Moreover, Pelaia (2016) states that Jews are considered the chosen people because they were “chosen to make the idea of God known to the world”. An example of this is found in Deuteronomy 14:2 as it says; "For you are a holy people to your God, and God has chosen you to be his treasured people from all the nations that are on the face of the earth.". Essentially, this quote is affirming that the Jews are unconditionally the chosen people of God, hence the title “People of the Book” given to Jews to confirm their identity with the Torah.
A long history of struggles for Jews shows how being united can strengthen a religion and bring together groups of people. According to an article titled Jewish Scared Texts (2004), the Jews rebelled against the Romans in 66 CE, however four years later in 70 CE, the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and expelled Judaism in response to the revolt. This is turn, led to Jewish diaspora, referring to dispersion Jews outside their homeland of Israel. As a result, Jews
ultimately had to unite and form strict laws about what it means to be a Jew. Since the diaspora eliminated any geographical center for the Jews, they used the Torah to represent their God to the world in a way that united them throughout many regions. In addition, the use of a common language (Hebrew, then later Yiddish), allows followers of Judaism to feel more connected and bound together as a whole group. Furthermore, as the BBC article on Judaism (2014) states, Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah, fall on specific dates in the lunar Jewish calendar. The Jewish Calendar also binds people together on specific dates and occasions.
Judaism was also the first monotheistic religion, as Pelaia (2016) states. It was the first to bind people under the belief that there is only one true God. In fact, monotheism being a central point of the religion adds on to the idea that Jews are defined by their relationship with their one God- a main factor that binds Jews together. It shows that all followers of Judaism are universally connected under a single divine being.
The Jewish community ultimately provides a group of people who believe to share a common history, and descent from Abraham. Though it is not considered universalizing nor ethnic, Judaism converts are not sought out, and you are usually born into the religion and continue to identify with it throughout your life. However, Jews are open to people who want to join their religion and convert. By uniting over the course of thousands of years and creating distinct sacred texts such as the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and Torah, Judaism has gained approximately 13 million followers, according to the same BBC Article on Judaism (2014). Given these points, Judaism is capable of binding people together based on their shared practices and beliefs.
BBC (2014). Judaism. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/
Jewish scared texts. (2004). Retrieved from http://www.religionfacts.com/judaism/texts
Neusner, J. (2002). Jew and Judaist, ethnic and religious: How they mix in America. Retrieved
Pelaia, A. (2016). The meaning of Jews as the chosen people. Retrieved from