Archive for the ‘Judaism’ Category

This week is host to many holy days and holidays. Below is a list of them and their dates. Also we have included articles Faith in Focus, the Missourian and christianity.about.com written about the holy days and holidays.

Palm Sunday, March 28, 2010

Passover: March 30 – April 5, 2010

Maundy Thursday: April 1

Good Friday: April 2, 2010

Easter Sunday : April 4, 2010

Eastern Orthodox Easter: April 4, 2010

Read Full Post »

Each language has its own sound, and each sound makes perfect sense to a native speaker. However, issues often arise when trying to translate one language to another. Often mistranslations abound and texts are translated, re-translated and re-translated but still errors can be found. One issue may be that some sounds from languages cannot be accurately translated into English. One of these languages is Hebrew.
There are two more days left in Hanukkah (or is it Hanuka?) and some of you may have noticed that there is more than one way to spell it.

Classical Hebrew translates closer to Hanukkah than modern Hebrew, which uses Chanukah. It’s all because the Hebrew letters that spell out the holiday are pronounced differently in classical Hebrew than in modern Hebrew. The “Ch” was adapted at the beginning of Chanukah because the first letter, in modern Hebrew, sounds like “ch” in loch.

Robert Siegel from NPR spoke to Rabbi Daniel Zemel in Dec. of 2005 about this very subject. In the interview they discus the phonetic ways people try to use to translate Hebrew into English.

In the end, no matter how you spell it, it is still the festival of lights. So happy Hanukkah or Chanukah or Khanukkah to you all.

Read Full Post »

The Althea W. and John A. Schiffman Lecture in Religious Studies series continued on Oct. 6 at the Columbia College campus with guest speaker Robert Wright. Wright, a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation gave a lecture on “The Evolution of God,” which is also the title of his latest book. Wright is a journalist, an author and a research scholar in religion. His latest book, The Evolution of God, grapples with the evolution of God and the three Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism). The book argues that pursuits of religion and the divine are valid even in the scientific era we live in.

Wright, whose religious beliefs are unclear, took an outsider’s point of view during the lecture. The “evolution of God” he refers to is not biological, but how ideas about God have changed over time and with the evolution of customs, traditions, etc. Given the way the world is melding together and becoming increasing intertwined, Wright brings up some interesting points about the relationship between different religious faiths.

“The Clash of Civilizations” is a theory that religious and cultural beliefs are and/or will be the main sources of conflict in the modern era. Wright questions what will happen to major civil societies if the three Abrahamic beliefs do not find a way to get along and have a sort of social cohesion. This raises an interesting point: history, globalization and economic interdependence have pushed societies to a point where we have learned to tolerate what we never would have accepted even a hundred years ago, let alone thousands of years ago when these three religions were first being introduced. Will we continue this trend to tolerate one another for our own survival, or have we reached a breaking point where political interests and fringe groups have interfered with morality and toleration?

Wright argues that morality was never an issue of religion in the ancient world, and that “moral monotheism” becomes a part of religion’s mission overtime. He says that religion first questioned why good and bad things happened within a society, with no emphasis on the importance of a strong moral compass. I wonder whether the reason humans have begun to put a greater emphasis on morality is a result of industrialization and globalization. We all have to get along to survive.

Going back to “The Clash of Civilizations,” Wright lectured that when religions see a benefit or a peaceful coexistence with another religious group, they are more inclined to find a basis for toleration. However, if they see a threat or rival in the other religion, they will use the parts of scripture that allows for belligerence as opposed to tolerance. Wright compares this idea with doing “business” with other religions. In the Muslim holy text, he says, there is a line that reads, “kill the polytheists wherever you find them.” Put in context, it’s saying that the war being waged in that part of the text is not about religion, but about whose side you are on because the line is saying to kill polytheists who are fighting against them, not with them. That is an example of toleration because it benefits you.

To wrap up his lecture, Wright concludes that history has pushed the three Abrahamic religions to a moral test which suggests that a larger purpose is moving society as a whole closer to moral truth. Wright says that salvation can only come about if there is a movement toward that moral truth around the world, and if that movement continues instead of falling prey to the Clash of Civilizations theory. What Wright strongly argues is that this larger purpose unfolding on Earth is one with a moral perspective. I guess, whether the movement purposeful, whether there is a God or supernatural entity behind it or whether it gives credence to the existence of divinity is up to each individual.

Read Full Post »

Members of Congregation Beth Shalom attended a service Wednesday, July 29, to remember the importance of a day called Tisha’ah b’Av. Numerous calamities that have occurred in Jewish history seem to have converged on this one day in the Hebrew calendar. The day, which means “The Ninth of Av” is remembered first as the day that both the First and Second temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, in 586 BCE and 70 CE, and when the Jews were exiled.

Rabbi Feintuch said that many Jewish leaders blame the Jewish people for the demise of the temple, citing the sins of the people as the cause. “Nowadays there are regimes in the Middle East that, in order to keep themselves in power, would point out to an enemy outside, that the Jews are so downtrodden and we suffer because of others. Not so in Jewish tradition.” In other words, some Jews have historically blamed forces within their own group for their downfall, unlike belligerent groups to which Feintuch referred.

He said the Talmud points to much evidence that the Jews’ corrupt behavior allowed for the Babylonian and Roman takeovers.  Specifically, the First Temple’s destruction is connected with the three vices of bloodshed, sexual turpitude and adultery. The second’s fall is connected with several elements, including the Jews hatred among each other and their division into factions, the disobedience of the Sabbath, or lack of youth education in the Torah.

“This is my heritage, I’m not here to try to suggest other views,” Feintuch said. “The Talmud suggests these rabbis who ruled Jerusalem made egregious historical mistakes because they chose not to seek some kind of reconciliation with Rome.”

Feintuch said that the Bible and the Talmud, the 2 most important pieces of Jewish literature, actually corroborate the idea despite our own sins, we look to blame our ills on outside forces.

“Our economy’s so depressed and our society’s so primitive, that this is something that’s happening in the Middle East for instance,” Feintuch said. “To explain their own mistakes and errors, such as women’s rights, they say ‘It’s not us – it’s because of the enemy outside.’ That’s not what the Jewish people chose to do.”

Please read the Columbia Missourian’s recent piece on Tisha b’Av for further information and context.

Read Full Post »

Judaism and Christianity share many similarities. They worship the same God, and the Old Testament and Tanakh share the same books. However, Rabbi Yossi Feintuch from Congregation Beth Shalom in Columbia pointed out one stark difference Tuesday night: Judaism is the faith of Jesus whereas Christianity is faith in Jesus.

This difference was the topic of conversation at a meeting of the CBS Men’s Club on Tuesday as Rabbi Feintuch addressed the issue of Jews and the Christian Messiah. Rabbi Feintuch spoke to a group of congregation members as well as a few visiting Christian Reverends with an open mind towards the understanding why the Jewish faith rejects Jesus as Messiah. The Rabbi said for him, it isn’t about being right or wrong but simply being different.

To help the group understand the concept, the Rabbi used marriage as a metaphor for the two different faiths. Like the covenant of marriage, where one choses to marry a certain spouse and another choses a different one, the choice of which faith to follow is neither right nor wrong, Feintuch said. He said both are part of God’s design and both are a covenant with God.

While Feintuch pointed out some inconsistencies between the New and Old Testaments of the Christian Bible when it comes to the prophecy of a Messiah and Jesus’ life, for the most part he steered clear of ragging on the Christian faith and interpretation of Jesus. Instead, he focused on why Jews chose not to accept Jesus.

Among some of his main points, Feintuch suggested that according to the Tanakh, Jews are required to each pay for his own sin. To have a Messiah take on that punishment, as is proclaimed by the Christian Messiah, would be wrong. In that sense, the focus of Judaism is on the Commandments instead of a Messiah, Feintuch said. Another argument posed by the Rabbi was that according to the Christian faith, the only way be in relationship with God is through Jesus, but verses in the Tanakh suggest that God is already near. Feintuch said this again negates the need for a Jesus-like Messiah.

Feintuch concluded his discussion by again pointing to the ties between each faith: both are waiting. Christians are waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus, while Jews are waiting for a Messiah. Both believe these comings will be a timely response to the world’s condition, both believe these comings will bring with them love, peace and justice.

Share your responses: Who do you think Jesus is?

Read Full Post »

The swine flu should be renamed the “Mexican flu” said an Israeli health official on Monday who said the flu’s reference to pigs was offensive to Muslims and Jewish people.

‘We should call this Mexican flu and not swine flu, said Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman at a news conference at a hospital in central Israel, according to an Associated Press article.

Both the Islamic faith and Jewish faith forbid the eating of pork products.

Two Israelis were recently hospitalized with symptoms of the flu after visiting Mexico.

However, scientists say there is nothing “Mexican” about the flu and that such a label would be stigmatizing to the country.

To read the Associated Press article click here.

Read Full Post »

Martin Silver, a New York businessman, is launching a kosher tequila in time for passover which begins at sundown on April 8th. The 99-proof kosher tequila is being produced in Mexico using methods that have been certified by a rabbi.

The official premiere of the tequila will be on Cinco de Mayo and will debut with Mexican songs sung in both Spanish and Yiddish. The tequila will retail at $41.95 a bottle.

Read the Associated Press brief here.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »