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Updated January 22, 2021

History of Judaism

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History of Judaism essay
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When The Romans destroyed the Second Temple and Jerusalem around 70 CE the Second Diaspora began. During this Diaspora, the Jewish people dispersed all through the world with settlements from modern day Iraq to Spain. During this period of exile, the Jewish faith underwent certain changes.Judaism evolved during exile as Jews viewed themselves not as a nation but as religion compatible with European nationalism. Their desire to integrate into modern society led to the creation of Reform Judaism , but Jews maintained their traditions throughout the Diaspora and across cultures.

The ideas of Judaism became compatible with European nationalism as Jews saw themselves as citizens of a nation.The movement of jews citizenship spread across western Europe in the Jewish emancipation Movement in the 1800s when Jews in many western European countries were granted a level of citizenship rights. During the French revolution, the spread of liberal ideas and freedoms Jews should have. Clermont-Tonnerre, a representative in the National Assembly, formulated an argument for Jewish Emancipation: ‘The Jews should be denied everything as a nation, but granted everything as individuals.” This argument from a non Jewish Frenchman shows how European governments now viewed the Jewish people as citizens instead of a separate nation.

The movement for the emancipation of Jewish citizens came into full force in Germany around 1830. A key advocate of Jewish Emancipation in Germany was Gabriel Riesser. He was a German-Jewish politician who advocated for the full citizenship of Jews. He believed the Jews are a religious minority and no longer identified as their own nation: therefore they should be granted similar rights to non-Jewish citizens and peacefully coexist along with Christianity and that being Christian should not be a requirement for citizenship. In a pamphlet responding to a critic of Jewish emancipation, Riesser writes: “There is only one baptism that confers nationality: this is the baptism of blood in the common struggle for freedom and fatherland… German Jews, too, have acquired this valid claim to nationality with full legal force.”  The movement for the emancipation of Jews in Germany and in western Europe shows how Jews begin identify as citizens of the countries they inhabit , rather than as part of a separate nation.

The desire to integrate into modern society and stay revelvent led to the creation of reform Judaism. Founding in Germany and formalized in america, Reform Judaism led to the reinterpretation of religious traditions for modern society. Reform judaism was started as rabbis observed people integrating into society while not maintaining their jewish traditions. People desired a faith that is compatible with the evolving culture while still allowing them to be part of a modern society.

The desire for reform was spearheaded by a Geraman-rabbi, Abraham Geiger, who is considered to be the father of the jewish reform movement. Where he argued the need to reform in The Scientific Journal for Jewish Theology where he wrote that: ‘Salvation lies not in the violent and reckless excision of everything which has descended to us from the past,’ he wrote, ‘but in the careful search into its deeper meaning, and in the aim to continue to develop historically from that which has grown historically. . . Much which is now believed and observed is not tradition … but is a product of a certain age, and therefore can be removed by time.’

This argument shows how Griger is calling for jews to explore the past to find out what is sacred in the present day and acknowledge the fact of Judaism has evolved over the centuries. Griger wanted the jews to focus on what is truly sacred to the work. Giger also concluded that since the bible was a human made document that was influenced by how the world was structured during its creation that Jews shouldn’t rely on the document to derive all the answers of the world. Instead, he advocated for the evolution of essential Jewish practices into modern day day life. The reform movement was organized brought over to América by German Jews.

The rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise was a crucial organize of Reform Judaism in America. He helped organize multiple synagus into a united religious organization which he did with the founding of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations in 1873. Wise was also a key advocate and intellectual for the reform movement in América. In one of his essays on the topic of reform judaism Wise writes about why it’s necessary foprovidingr religious to evolve: “The divine institutions of the past are not obligatory on the present generation or on coming ages, since the conditions which rendered them necessary, desirable and beneficial have been radically changed.” Wise lays the logic for the reasons of reform Judaism which is the conditions that render practices sacred change and evolve over time, so therefore Jewdism should too. The two rabbis,Abraham Geiger and Issaic Wise, help lay the foundation of reform judaism in the world by the intellectual justification for the evolution of Jewish practices during the exile. Despite the exile and dispersing of the Jews across the world, they continued to practice traditions that are key to their faith across cultures and different time periods.

References

  1. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hanukkah_Lamp_-_Lemberg_F_5119.jpg
  2. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:14th_century_Hannukah_lamp_(hanukiah),_France_-_Mus%C3%A9e_d%27art_et_d%27histoire_du_Juda%C3%AFsme.jpg
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hanukkah_Lamp_-_Lemberg_F_5119.jpg
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:14th_century_Hannukah_lamp_(hanukiah),_France_-_Mus%C3%A9e_d%27art_et_d%27histoire_du_Juda%C3%AFsme.jpg

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