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The history of Judaism

The history of Judaism is incredible. I cannot believe how much I have learned in this class; facts that I never knew existed. Being that I am Jewish, I am somewhat ashamed of that. Nevertheless, I am grateful for what I have learned these past two weeks about my religion. I have celebrated Passover numerous times in my life and had no idea the actual story behind it. I am not sure if I truly believe some of the stories in the Bible, but the story of God passing over Egypt, killing everyone who didnt have blood on their thresholds, in order to save the Jews is incredible.

The exodus of Egypt, demonstrates to us, the kind of suffering and hope, that makes me feel proud of who I am and who my ancestors were. I have gained so much information in this past week (though I do believe more time could definitely be spent on each religion) about the key themes that were covered, but there are two especially that I felt I needed to write about in my paper. The role of women in Judaism and the suffering Jews endured and still endure. I chose the role of women because has great relevance in my life, through my mother, my daughter and myself.

I chose suffering because I dont believe enough can be said about events that have taken place in Judaism, throughout history. The role of women in the Jewish religion has always been somewhat disturbing to me. I have never understood how the differences in men and women came to be, until this class. The men are the ones who are responsible for praying and upholding the laws of the Torah, while the women stay home and raise the family. Being that family and shaping the Jewish home is the most important role, (Rabbi Stanley Wagner, video 7), doesnt that make us just as important One would think so.

I realize that in the Reform branch of Judaism, women are just as equal as men, but not even close in the orthodox branch. In fact in the video, Rabbi Stanley Wagner didnt have much to say about why women arent considered equal in the orthodox branch. What he did say though is that Orthodox men do not accept women and if a woman is unmarried or does not have children, she is in violation of the Jewish law. I find that aspect, of the role of women, somewhat outdated (to put it nicely! ). A different aspect is my mother.

Earlier in the summer my daughter and I went to Russia with my mother. We went there for the opening of the orphanage my mother created for homeless Jewish children. It is in the heart of Moscow and her partner is the chief Rabbi of Moscow, Rabbi Pinkus Goldschmidt. He over sees the center and together they bring Jewish children off the streets into a home environment. Its the most wonderful of creations and my mother, a Jewish woman, is the one who created it. While we were there for the opening, I watched as my mother endured a lot of criticism from certain Jewish and Russian people.

I felt so angry because what she did was so exceptional, yet several Jewish men wouldnt even attend the opening because she was a woman. I understand now, why that was. Women are supposed to be at home, taking care of the family, not out doing a mans work. Jewish men are the ones who are supposed to be out making a difference through prayer and worship of the Torah. I understand the strong belief system of Jews, but I am also thankful to women like my mother who are making a difference for other Jewish women.

After reading about Esther in the Bible and what she did to save the Jews from Haman and creating the holiday Purim, I felt the same sense of pride as with my mom. As for my daughter, I want her to grow up making choices for herself, whether she wants to be a Jewish homemaker or a Jewish doctor, she will still be a Jewish woman and I will be very proud. I believe that Jewish women are just as important as Jewish men are. The amount of suffering that Jews have endured and still endure is devastating.

Why is it that Jews have suffered the most Why do Jews still suffer at the hands of others I dont think I will ever be able to understand that, no matter how much I read or learn. I do understand though, that through suffering came survival and commitment. Jews are committed to helping one another and never give up on themselves or mankind. Jews seem to be a very tight knit group, which is understandable, they have had to rely on eachother, throughout their whole existence. Oppression is what may have caused Jews to turn inward, toward eachother. ( Byron Plumley, video 8).

I think that statement is very accurate, Jewish people seem to trust only in one another, by doing so they have formed that strong sense of family and commitment, that they are so respected by. The aspect of God, in relation to Jews suffering, is confusing to me. In the bible, God repeatedly steps in to save the Jews from destruction by their enemies. He calls on Moses to lead his people out of Egypt and save all of their lives. He creates a homeland for Jews, He parts the Sea, He kills others in order to save the Jews, but where was God when six million Jewish people were brutally murdered during the Holocaust.

I personally dont believe all of the stories in the bible, but Im sure that a good majority of those six million people did, it must have been an awful revelation that God was not there to help them. I realize that seems a little far-fetched of me to write, but it is the way I think. Where was Gods help then Where did this hatred of Jews begin Six million people killed, just because they were Jewish, unfathomable! When I was younger I was afraid to tell people I was Jewish, because I knew they wouldnt like me or I would get teased.

I am ashamed of that now, but then I just wanted to be like everyone else. The scariest part of that, is now, kids are being killed because they are different. The community that Jews have created offers hope and safety for children, which is so important. Jewish people put their family first, which is how it should be done. Through all the past suffering and future suffering, we can count on one thing to be true, the Jewish population will survive. Throughout all the learning we have done on Judaism, I have learned that Jews are strong, dedicated people, who believe and trust in God with all their will.

I am confidant that the role of women in Judaism will continue to reach new heights and more women will emerge like my mother, and do great things. In respect to the suffering of Jews, it is their beliefs in: God, commitment to home and family, and the state of Israel, that will keep the Jewish religion alive even in the face of future suffering. I am proud of who I am. I hope that my daughter never feels ashamed or afraid of her heritage, as I did at a young age, because we are all special, no matter what religion we are.

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