Lazy Students Essay On Judaism
JEWS FOR JUDAISM is increasingly being called upon to deal with a growing and alarming phenomenon: the targeting of Jewish public school students by groups and individuals who seek to convert them to Christianity. Consider the following:
In an affluent suburb of Birmingham, a number of Jewish high school students have recently informed their parents of their “conversion” to Christianity, in a process abetted by school policies that permit Christian “youth ministers” to engage in Jewish-targeted missionary activities on school grounds and during school hours.
In Pike County, Alabama, a Jewish student is required to write an essay on “Why Jesus Loves Me,” and to attend a mandatory school assembly at which a minister states that all who do not accept Jesus are condemned to hell.
In Utah, a Jewish student who objects to participating in Mormon worship during choir class is humiliated by her teacher and ridiculed by her classmates.
Faced with a missionary agenda that is well-financed and widely supported, as well as a series of conflicting court decisions, even many well-intentioned school officials are confused as to how to respond. The following Questions and Answers are intended to help.
Why is this issue so complicated? Do Jewish students have a CROSS to bear in Public Schools?
The First Amendment to the Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Our Founding Fathers wisely sought to maintain government neutrality in matters of religion: the government was prohibited from advancing a particular set of religious beliefs and from unreasonably interfering with the private exercise of those beliefs. This requires a careful balancing of often competing demands, a balance that is threatened by the increasing militancy on the part of the Christian Right – precisely the segment of the Christian community that is most active in Jewish-targeted conversionary efforts.
While the Constitution’s “Free Exercise Clause” prohibits the government from regulating religious beliefs, the “Establishment Clause” has been interpreted to mean that any valid public school policy must (1) have a primarily secular, rather than a religious, purpose; (2) have the primary effect of neither advancing nor inhibiting religion; and (3) avoid an excessive entanglement between government and religion.
Are student religious clubs permissible in the public schools?
Under a federal law known as the Equal Access Act, public secondary schools (high school and above) must generally give equal treatment to all student-initiated groups, and may not treat student-led religious groups less favorably than they treat other types of student-led groups. In order to be entitled to such equal treatment, however, the groups must be student-initiated, student-led, voluntary, and open to all students. School teachers and other school personnel may not initiate, promote, lead or participate in religious club meetings. Similarly, outsiders – including members of the clergy – may not control, direct or regularly attend the meetings of these student groups.
What about outside religious groups: may they meet in the public schools?
Outside religious groups may not meet in the public schools during normal school hours. After school hours, outside religious clubs and organizations can meet in the schools if the school allows other types of outside organizations and clubs to meet at the same time. The school district must affirmatively make clear that it is not endorsing the group’s religious views or activities.
Are students allowed to distribute religious material to other students in the public schools?
Yes, on a limited basis. Schools have the right to prohibit such distribution if it disrupts the school’s functioning or involves coercive proselytizing.
Is prayer allowed in public schools?
Students have the right to pray on an individual and voluntary basis so long as it is neither disruptive nor coercive. Such prayers cannot be led by teachers, coaches, or other school officials, nor can such officials solicit student volunteers to lead prayers. Also generally prohibited are prayers at school assemblies, graduation ceremonies, and school football games, whether led by students or by others.
May teachers share their personal religious beliefs with students?
In general, public school teachers may not advocate particular religious beliefs when dealing with students.
These legal requirements are being ignored in my child’s public school. What can I do?
When you become aware of apparent legal violations, don’t remain silent. Contact the school’s principal, the district superintendent of schools, and the school board. Most school officials want to do the right thing, and don’t want to see religious coercion in their schools. In the unusual case where such interventions prove to be ineffective, the threat of litigation may bring about the desired response.
To the extent that religious activity is permissible in the public schools, it is often the case that only Christian groups have exercised their legally-protected rights. Just as Christian groups have availed themselves of the federal Equal Access Act, so too can Jewish groups. Consider helping to organize a student-led Jewish group in your child’s public school, or inviting an engaging rabbi or dynamic Jewish educator to lead an after-school group. We have the same right of access as the missionaries (and, of course, are subject to the same legal constraints).
There is only one guarantee: If we’re not there for our kids, the missionaries will be!
We would like to thank Larry Levey, Esq. for his assistance in writing this article.
For further information on the Separation of Church and State see:
Library Page: http://www.jcrcny.org/library/spiritual-deception.html
Resource Page: http://www.jcrcny.org/resources/spiritual-deception.html
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Article by Ruth Guggenheim / bear the cross, christian missionary, conversion, jewish children schoolLeave a Comment
An Introduction to Judaism
Dr. Meredith Sprunger
Judaism: The Religion of Ethical Monotheism
Judaism is among the oldest of the world's major living religions. Its members have been frequently persecuted and scattered throughout the world yet have kept their identity. In 1982 Judaism reports 14,336,520 followers. Judaism believes that God is active in the social and historical process. The amazing achievement of Judaism is that it has developed the concept of God from that of a primitive tribal deity to the God of all nations.
The patriarchs of Judaism lived in the Fertile Crescent at the beginning of the second millennium B.C. The Biblical report speaks of the calling of Abraham in which he is promised that he will become the father of a great nation through which all the world will be blessed. The early Hebrews practiced animal sacrifice and circumcision. The generic name for God among the Semites wa El. He is referred to variously as El Shaddai (God of the mountains or God Almighty), El Elyon (God Most High), El Olam(God everlasting), and Elohim (Gods). The Hebrews regarded themselves as God's chosen people.
The exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt where they served as slaves is the most important event in Judaism. Their miraculous delivery from the Egyptians under the leadership of Moses, the reception of the Ten Commandments, their forty years in the wilderness, and their conquest of the promised land are central factors in their religious consciousness, holidays and observances. The Ark of the Covenant and the Tent of Meeting were also important in the early days of Judaism.
With the establishment of the Hebrew monarchy under David and Solomon the religion of Israel took on a more formal character. David captured Jerusalem and Solomon built the first temple. Although animal sacrifice remained the main form of worship, prophets added a new dimension to Judaism. Amos proclaimed the need for personal and national obedience to a righteous God. Hosea declared that Yahweh was a God of mercy and love. Isaiah caught a vision of God's holy majesty and righteousness. Micah's summary of religious duty was "to do justly, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with thy God."
In 922 B. C. the Hebrews were split into two nations. The northern kingdom, Israel, was destroyed by the Assyrians in 721 B. C. and the ten tribes which made up this nation disappeared from history. The southern kingdom, Judah, survived the Assyrian years but were conquered by the Babylonians in 586 B. C. Solomon's temple was torn down and the people were carried into captivity.
During the period of captivity Ezekiel gave the Hebrews hope by pointing out that they could worship Yahweh in Babylon as well as Jerusalem and pictured the rise of a new nation in the future. Second Isaiah described Yahweh as the God of the universe and promised a messiah to redeem the entire world.
When the Persians captured Babylon in 538 B. C. many Jews under the leadership of Ezra were allowed to return and rebuild Jerusalem. The reading of the law in book form took on new significance. The second temple was built (520 B. C.) and greatly enhanced much later (37-34 B.C.). The Romans destroyed it in 70 A.D. Following the Babylon captivity the Priestly Code was developed and legalistic Judaism was established. Later apocalyptic writers like Daniel and Enoch spoke of the coming of divine deliverance and an idealized future.
The Babylonian captivity was also the beginning of the long history of the Diaspora. All of the cities in the Roman empire had a Jewish population. The Jews of the Diaspora developed the institutional synagogue and the office of rabbi. Following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Hebrew scholars gathered and after much debate established the canon of the Torah--The Law, The Prophets, and the Writings(Old Testament) as we have it today. Later the Mishnah, (commentaries on the law) was compiled.
The center of Jewish learning then shifted to Babylon where the Gemara (serrmonic material on all areas of Jewish life) was brought together. When the Gemara was added to the Mishnah the resultant product was called the Talmud. There was a Palestinian Talmud and a Babylonian Talmud; both are written in Aramaic, while the Mishnah texts are entirely in Hebrew. During the medieval period Jewish and Muslim scholars worked together translating Greek and Latin philosophers into Arabic. Baghdad became the center of Jewish religious authority during this period.
Renewed persecution of the Jews by Muslim rulers began in 847 and with the decline of the Babylonian community Spanish Jews became the leaders of worldwide Judaism. The greatest figure in Spanish Judaism was the philosopher, talmudist, and physician, Maimonides (1135-1204). He attempted to harmonize Judaism with the philosophy of Aristotle. In 1391 there was a massacre of thousands of Jews and in 1492 the Jews and the Moors were expelled from Spain.
Mysticism--the concern for angels, demons, charms, dream interpretation, messiah predictions, and numerology--in Judaism is lumped under the heading of Cabala (tradition). The most outstanding compilation of cabalistic material was the sefcr Hazahar or Zohar attributed to a second century A.D. leader, Yohai; however, scholars believe Moses de Leon, a thirteenth century Spanish mystic, is the author. Cabalistic literature appeals to those who are oppressed and discouraged. These writings have been popular. This aspiration for deliverance is also reflected in that many in Jewish history have claimed to be the expected Messiah.
By the tenth century Europe had become the major location for Jewish life. The Jews frequently became money lenders to the Christian nobility. The Christian Crusades set off widespread attacks on Jews in Europe. Many fled to Poland or Islamic countries where rulers were more tolerant. By the end of the sixteenth century Poland had the largest concentration of Jews in the world. Their language was Yiddish, a combination of German and Hebrew. Jews in European cities were forced into restricted sections known as Ghettos, which were the worst parts of the city. The Lateran Council in 1215 decreed that Jews must wear a yellow badge and in some communities distinctive hats were required. A revolt in Poland resulted in the slaughter of from 300,000 to 500,000 Jews.
In the mid 1700's Moses Mendelssohn, a learned Jew, began writing essays in German and was accepted by the literary people and leaders of his day. He encouraged the Jews to come out of the ghettos and enter the modern world. About the same time Baal Shem Tov began preaching that God was not found in scholarly research in the Bible or the Talmud but in simple heartfelt faith. His followers became known as the Hasidim (pious ones).
By the nineteenth century Christian nations began making declarations that people of all faiths had equal rights. In 1848 Jews were first admitted to European universities. The Alfred Dreyfus trial in France, however, caused Theodore Herzl and others to realize that Jewish people would never be treated fairly until they had a land of their own. This resulted in the birth of the Zionist movement. The Nazi holocaust in which an estimated six million Jews were killed intensified this aspiration. Jews in increasing numbers migrated to Palestine. They were encouraged by the British and when the British left Palestine in May of 1948, Israel immediately proclaimed statehood.
The following beliefs are central to Judaism: (1) Ethical monotheism, this doctrine of the one universal God is the central teaching of Judaism and its gift to the world. (2) The one true God has revealed his sovereign will through the Prophets. Here Abraham and Moses are especially important but revelation is progressive and is continued through the scholars and rabbis. (3) God has chosen Israel to be his servant to bring men to a true knowledge of God. Israel has a mission to all mankind. This does not endow the Jews with special privileges but it does give them special responsibilities. (4) God's will for man effects all of life. It applies to all people and to all times and places. Religious duties are especially emphasized in connection with the family and the welfare of society. The ideals of truth, justice, humility, faithfulness, and loving-kindness are held in high regard. Jews are noted for their love of learning.
There are three divisions within modern Judaism. Orthodox Judaism is rigorous about ritual observances, the dietary laws, and keeping the Sabbath. It stresses the absolute authority of revealed Law and looks for the coming of the Messiah. Conservative Judaism, while continuing rabbinical Judaism, claims the right to adopt the traditions to the conditions of the modern world. It is less rigid in the formulation of requirements than Orthodox Judaism. Reformed Judaism stresses the ethical teachings of the prophets and the growth of an age of justice, truth, and peace. Judaism is regarded as an evolving religious experience that is subject to change. (H. H. Titus - Living Issues of Philosophy)
Index to the Full Series
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