Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Date: February 2006
Duration: 3 hours 1 minutes
Judaism is more than a religion; it is a civilization including a people, a language, unique laws, a system of ethics, custom, a homeland, and a theology. Judaism focuses on the proper and righteous life in this world; Jews worship one God, who is just and merciful, and they obey a wide-ranging and vigorous moral law centered around the Torah. Themes of Jewish life include family, study, morality, and community. Moses led the Jews from Egypt to the "Promised Land" of Canaan; they became a strong unified nation in the 10th century BCE. The kingdom soon split into Judah and Israel; Israel was conquered by Assyria (722 BCE), and Judah by the Babylonians (586 BCE). The Jews returned from Babylonian exile in 520 BCE, only to experience centuries of oppression (and often persecution) by Persians, Greeks, Syrians, Romans, and others. Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE, with great loss of life. The local synagogue and the rabbi now became the focus of Jewish life. For eighteen centuries, Jews lived as a minority - often a persecuted minority - mostly in nations dominated by Christians and Muslims. Jews clung to their law and customs, longing for restoration as a unified culture. In the 19th century, Jews were emancipated. Reform Judaism wanted to liberalize Jewish life and reconcile it with the conditions of local culture; the Orthodox Jews insisted on strict adherence to traditional laws and beliefs. In the United States, Conservative Judaism, Reconstructionism, and Secular Humanistic Judaism arose. From the late 19th century Jews struggled to reestablish their ancient homeland. Then in World War II came the Holocaust, which saw the murder of six million Jews in Europe. In its wake, the State of Israel was established in 1948.