The Jewish Community
Ancient Jewish Culture
The Jews have a 5,750 year history, tracing their origins
to Biblical times. Evolving out of a common religion, the
Jewish people developed customs, culture, and an
ethical system which identified them as Jews regardless
of their individual religious attitudes. The ancient Jews
were both conquerors and the conquered. But they were
among only a handful of ancient peoples to survive,
despite centuries of persecution, massacres, and their
dispersion amongst all of the world's nations. Where
other peoples assimilated, the Jews adopted some local
customs and folkways, but held onto the basic tenets of
their religion and culture.
Were Israelites Monotheists?
They were originally polytheistic which is what upset Moses when he discovered them
worshipping the golden calf instead of his preferred sky god who was jealous of any
The idea of having only one god comes from Akhenaten the heretic Egyptian pharaoh
who invented this form of worship.
Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish
Passover meal – Seder
Boy The Holy Torah
The Zealots were apparently Pharisaic in
their views, with the notable exception
that they advocated and practiced armed
resistance against the Roman occupation.
This group sparked the revolt against
Rome (66-70 C.E.), which had such
disastrous consequences for the Jewish
Post-70 C.E. Judaism
The disastrous war of 66-70 brought an end to
the Sadducees, for the Temple, the foundation
of their influence, was destroyed, never to be
rebuilt. The Zealots, except for a resurgence in
the second Jewish revolt of 132-35 C.E., lost all
credibility in their program of armed resistance
against Rome. The covenanting community of
Qumran disappeared in 68, as we have already
noted. The Pharisees were left as the major
group to survive the war and to give their stamp
to historic Judaism, down to the present day,
but especially to what today is called Orthodox
Synagogue Life in the Diaspora
In the same way as for Jews in Palestine, loyalty to the Law was the central feature
of Hellenistic Judaism. Their religious life centered almost exclusively on the
synagogue, except for pilgrims who were able to visit the Temple in Jerusalem for
the great festivals. Yet Jews of the dispersion were more in tune with Greek culture
than their brothers and sisters in Palestine. One of the great Jewish thinkers, Philo of
Alexandria, sought to interpret the Law in a way compatible with Greek philosophy
(or, put differently, the explication of philosophy employing the categories of Torah,
in allegorical fashion). The response of their gentile neighbors was varied. The Jews
were regarded with contempt by some, and on occasion were the victims of
persecution. By others, they were shown respect because of the lofty monotheism
and the noble ethics of Jewish teaching. There were some gentiles who sought
admission to the Jewish community. These were received on condition that they
follow the requirements of the Law; that they submit to the rite of circumcision; that
they receive a ceremonial washing; and that where possible they offer sacrifice in the
Temple. Such converts were called “proselytes.” Other gentiles, called “God-fearers,”
were unwilling to submit to the ritual requirements for proselytes, but they were
attracted to the religious and ethical teachings of Judaism, and were welcomed to the
worship of the synagogue. It was among these God-fearers that Christianity
frequently received a sympathetic hearing, as the proclamation of the Christian
message spread outside of Palestine.
How are Jews Different From
Throughout the Torah Jews are called Israelites. That's because
they are direct descendants of Jacob, whom G-d named Israel. Jews
were called by that name until just after King Solomon's time when
the tribe of Judah chose a separate king then most of the other
tribes, which left the Jewish nation (then known as the Israelites)
with a country split in two, or rather - two countries.
Years passed and Nebuchadnezzar came with his Assyrian army,
and defeated the Kingdom of Israel. He hadn't hit Judah yet. He
exiled the 10 tribes (now called the 'lost tribes'), and the only ones
who survived were from Judah. Over the years that was shortened
Truthfully, they are the same thing today, as most surviving Jews
(not counting the Bene Israel in India and Ethiopia and the like) are
from the tribe of Judah, Benjamin or Levi.
How are Jews similar to Israelites?
1. Both are religion-based regimes, rooted in ancient Mesopotamian
2. Both have large population of non-believers, who suffer in the hands of
the more radical, vocal and organized zealots;
3. Both pursue a systematic suppression of ethnic and religious minorities;
4. Both have notorious secret services that are often accused of cruel acts
of torture and murder;
5. Both have aspiration to lead the world, as a group of „chosen people‟,
with whom god has made a special covenant;
6. Both await the emergence of a messiah who will transform the whole
world into a mono-religious “paradise”;
7. Both have parliamentary systems, but ones that disenfranchise large
portions of their population;
8. In both countries, the leaders claim to be holier-than-thou, but are often
revealed as rotten corrupts;
9. Non-believers in both countries are harassed, e.g. women with revealing
clothes, or men thought to break religious laws (drinking in Iran, driving
on a Saturday in Israel);
10. Both have clandestine nuclear programs, which have either resulted in
weapons of mass destruction or are on their way to it.
The Names of different Jews
The Names of different jews (Cont.)
Modern Orthodox Liberal,
Yeshivish Black Hat,
Other religions impact on the
Jews in Rome
Jews had lived in Rome since the second century BC. Julius Caesar and Augustus supported laws that allowed Jews protection to worship
as they chose. Synagogues were classified as colleges to get around Roman laws banning secret societies and the temples were allowed
to collect the yearly tax paid by all Jewish men for temple maintenance.
There had been upsets: Jews had been banished from Rome in 139 BC, again in 19 AD and during the reign of Claudius. However, they
were soon allowed to return and continue their independent existence under Roman law.
The temple in Jerusalem
Although each Jewish community worshipped at its own synagogue, the temple in Jerusalem remained the spiritual center of their
The temple had been rebuilt three times. The first was when it had been destroyed in 587 BC by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia. The
second was when it had been plundered and wrecked by Judaea’s foreign rulers. The third time, it had been rebuilt by Herod the Great
in 20 BC.
It had several gates and chambers, some of which were open only to men, some only to women, while others were reserved for priests.
The temple was the meeting place of the Jewish Council, called the Sanhedrin. It also held Jewish holy scriptures and documents.
Outside was the temple square – this was a marketplace, where pilgrims could buy sacrificial animals and convert foreign currency into
Rebellion in Judaea
Although Judaea was ruled by the Romans, the governors there had practiced the same kind of religious tolerance as was shown to Jews
in Rome [expert]. However, Roman tactlessness and inefficiency, along with famine and internal squabbles, led to a rise in Jewish
In 66 AD, this discontent exploded into open rebellion. Four years later, the Roman army had crushed the revolt, but had also destroyed
the temple. The sacred treasures were seized and shown off in a procession through the streets of Rome.
Destruction of the temple
The destruction of the temple fundamentally changed the nature of Judaism. Taxes that were once paid to the temple were now paid to
Rome, and the Jewish tradition of worshipping in the temple was over. With only the Western Wall remaining of the temple in Jerusalem,
the local synagogues now became the new centers of the Jewish religion
The Holocaust The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million
Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. "Holocaust" is a word of Greek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire." The Nazis, who came to
power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were "racially superior" and that the Jews, deemed "inferior," were an alien
threat to the so-called German racial community. During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted other groups
because of their perceived "racial inferiority": Roma (Gypsies), the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and
others). Other groups were persecuted on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah's
Witnesses, and homosexuals.
Other religions impact on the
Jewish society ( ) cont.
Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany established about 20,000 camps to
imprison its many millions of victims. These camps were used for a range of
purposes including forced-labor camps, transit camps which served as
temporary way stations, and extermination camps built primarily or
exclusively for mass murder. From its rise to power in 1933, the Nazi
regime built a series of detention facilities to imprison and eliminate so-
called "enemies of the state." Most prisoners in the early concentration
camps were German Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Roma
(Gypsies), Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and persons accused of
"asocial" or socially deviant behavior. These facilities were called
“concentration camps” because those imprisoned there were physically
“concentrated” in one location.
After Germany's annexation of Austria in March 1938, the Nazis arrested
German and Austrian Jews and imprisoned them in the Dachau,
Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen concentration camps, all located in
Germany. After the violent Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") pogroms
in November 1938, the Nazis conducted mass arrests of adult male Jews
and incarcerated them in camps for brief periods.
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 Jewish. 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. Follow a link
below to learn more about Judaism.
586 BCE: Babylonians Conquer Jerusalem
539 BCE:Cyrus, King of Persia, Conquered Babylonian Empire.
522-486 BCE: Daruis I, Persian Ruler after Cyrus
515 BCE: Temple Rebuilt
-During this time there were two distinct groups in the Jewish population:
Am HaAretz: Remained in the land
B'nai HaG'olah: Upper class, exiled
458 BCE: Ezra appointed governor of Judah
444 BCE: Nechemia appointed governor of Judah
(521 BCE: Egyptian law codes compiled and translated)
In the historical record, there is a 250 year gap...(430-170 BCE)
Hellenistic Period: 332-31 BCE
332 BCE: Persian Empire Fell to Alexander the Great.