Jewish culture is has a deep-rooted history, and is extremely interesting to explore and learn more about. Harvey Shapiro Northeastern University mentions that Judaism itself is not a faith-based religion, and focuses more on deed and practice. Harvey Shapiro himself studied political science and Jewish History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He subsequently went on to study Jewish Education at Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion. He also completed his doctorate from there. The education and personal experiences of Shapiro make him a great candidate to talk about Jewish culture.
Jewish culture is extremely vibrant and complicated. It is largely about family, community and trying to help others. Harvey Shapiro Northeastern University mentions that the history of the Jews spans several decades, and its communities have witnessed the development of variegated cultural phenomena. While some of these cultural influences come from within Judaism, others are based interaction of Jews with diverse other populations. Prior to the 18th century, religion dominated virtually all aspects of Jewish life, and infused culture. However, with the advent of secularization, a wholly secular Jewish culture began to emerge.
Here are a few interesting facts about Jewish culture underlined by Harvey Shapiro Northeastern University:
- Torah or the Five Books of Moses is basically the foundation of all Jewish practices and beliefs. After that, come the Prophets and Writings. Together, all of them form the Hebrew Bible. These written books, along with certain oral traditions, have an extremely prominent presence in Jewish culture.
- There are three major branches within Judaism. They are known to be Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews. Apart from these, there are several smaller denominations of Judaism as well. Each of these represents their unique practices and traditions. People following all of these branches basically take part in practices that they and interpret as the real and authentic version of Judaism. The basis of their core belief is almost the same, as all of them share the same origin.
- Traditions are extremely important in the Jewish community. This community has several traditions, big and small. They include the style of dressing, the celebration of holidays, and even hanging mezuzot on the doorframes. The important holidays for the Jews Include Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement, Rosh Hashanah or the New Year and Chanukah or the celebration of the miracle of light. No matter the branches of Judaism one may belong to, all Jews tend to observe these holidays. Certain ways these holidays are celebrated may differ from one branch to the other.
- For most of the first millennium in the history of the Jewish people, there used to be a Holy Temple where sacrifices were bought, and people came to worship at least three times a year. After Romans destroyed the Second Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the first century, the nexus of Jewish life shifted to the synagogues.
A lot more interesting facts about Jews, their history, religion and culture can easily be found online nowadays.