Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Hanukkah (and some thoughts on Judaism)

Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate it!

I am not Jewish. But I recognize the huge contribution that this people/culture/religion has made to the history of civilization.

Christianity began as a movement within Judaism and owes the so-called “Old Testament” of its scriptures to that faith, as well as its basic concepts of a loving Father-God and other theology. Its founder and its early leadership was utterly Jewish, a long-ignored or suppressed fact. The Catholic writer Carroll goes so far as to assert that even Jesus and Paul considered themselves Jews, wholly Jews, from birth to death.

Islam owes much to Judaism as well, however much some within its ranks might wish to deny that. And the prophet Mohammed didn’t lift off to heaven from the site of the Dome of the Rock just from happenstance or because it was a convenient high place along his journey. It was a holy place where, like it or not, a sacred Jewish temple once stood and to which that sacred aura still clung in his day, and to which it yet clings today.

The old physical stereotype of a Jew is patently ridiculous, because Jews today are of many backgrounds and cultures. I have known Jews who are black, blonde or sporting bushy red beards.

This blog is no place to go into great detail (and I am not qualified in the least to do it anyway!) but the history, philosophy and contributions of Judaism to humanity are worth the study of every intelligent person.

I continue to learn new things all the time. One Jewish commentator on a blog that I visit, discussing a hypothetical Christian conversion, helped me to realize how little I still know about the aforementioned thought process of Her faith. Unlike Christianity, in which most sects are mild to hyper-aggressive in seeking converts, Judaism not only does not proselyte, in many ways it discourages converts. Seems counterintuitive, at least to my Christian-raised mind. But there are reasons, thought-provoking reasons, for this difference.

In addition, the concept of a rewards-based heaven, even of a specific afterlife, is a totally Christian construct from which such a prospective convert must divest him or Herself, She wrote -- certainly no easy thing to do.


Janice Thomson said...

Every religion has something beautiful and wise to impart to the man who would look a little deeper. Those who consider their way as the 'only way' to salvation/redemption/nirvana would benefit from keeping their mouths shut tighter and their minds more open. I enjoyed this post Eastcoastdweller.

eastcoastdweller said...

Thank You, Janice.

Kathleen said...

and may I add a profound and wise quote by a wise and profound man?

Thomas Jefferson....... " I never told my own religion nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another's creed. I am satisfied that yours must be an excellent religion to have produced a life of such exemplary virtue and correctness. For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be judged."

a life well lived .... with thoughtfulness, kindness, tolerance, and striving for excellence and harmony in all things is a life to be admired, no matter the creed, no matter the nationality.

eastcoastdweller said...

Kat, I so love Thomas Jefferson! I've been thrice to Monticello, bought seeds from the gift shop there, and even walked the grounds of William and Mary where he went to school.

What an incredible, intelligent, wise man he was. And I love that quote. Thank you.

ndpthepoetress - Jeane Michelle Culp said...

Nice to read this eastcoastdweller, your Post is a well written accredit to the Jewish Community. I must admit, I almost shirked the subject when a Blog site I Co-Author with, asked we all do a Christmas card. However; I respect the fact that Christmas is not recognized by Everyone, so I wanted to cover all Religious beliefs. Yet, in my research I found to many contradicting and judgmental info. Finally I came up with A Multicultural Holiday Wish 2 All! that I am Proud of. Still, I admire you eastcoastdweller for presenting a personable Post on Judaism and Hanukkah with factual insight.

Rebecca said...

Great post, ECD. And I loved Kathleen's comment. Hear here. And do you know that some on the Christian Right interpret such a quote to mean that Mr. Jefferson espoused atheism???

I agree with many tenets and ceremonies of the Jewish faith. They are beautiful, pragmatic and healthy. While I was raised Catholic, I find proselytizing of any nature odious. No, wait. I find it evil. It is not for any man to tell another his faith is wrong. Ever. Oh, wait, maybe I just did what I abhor...