Portal:Judaism

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Judaism (from the Greek Ioudaïsmos, derived from the Hebrew יהודה, Yehudah, "Judah") is the religion of the Jewish people, based on the principles and ethics embodied in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), as further explored and explained in the Talmud. Judaism is among the oldest religious traditions still practiced today and is considered one of the world's first monotheistic faiths. At the core of Judaism is the belief in a single, omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent God, who created the universe and continues to govern it. In 2007, the world Jewish population was estimated to be 13.2 million people—41 percent in Israel and the other 59 percent in the diaspora. The traditional criterion for membership in Judaism or the Jewish people has been being born to a Jewish mother or taking the path of conversion.

Jewish tradition maintains that the history of Judaism begins with the Covenant between God and Abraham (c. 1800 BCE), the patriarch and progenitor of the Jewish people. According to the traditional Jewish belief, God also created another covenant with the Israelites (the ancestors of the Jewish people), and revealed his laws and commandments (Mitzvot) to them on Mount Sinai in the form of the Written Torah. Traditional Judaism also maintains that an Oral Torah was revealed at the same time and, after being passed down verbally for generations, was later transcribed in the Talmud. Laws, traditions, and learned Rabbis who interpret these texts and their numerous commentaries comprise the modern authority on Jewish tradition. While each Jew's level of observance varies greatly, the traditional practice of Judaism revolves around the study and observance of God's Mitzvot.

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Temple Israel Memphis Everyday Entrance

Temple Israel is a Reform Jewish congregation in Memphis, Tennessee. It is the only Reform synagogue in Memphis, the oldest and largest Jewish congregation in Tennessee, and one of the largest Reform congregations in the United States. It was founded in 1853 by mostly German Jews as Congregation B'nai Israel. Led initially by cantors, in 1858 it hired its first rabbi, Jacob Peres, and leased its first building, which it renovated and eventually purchased. The synagogue was one of the founding members of the Union for Reform Judaism. It experienced difficulty during the Great Depression—membership dropped, the congregational school was closed, and staff had their salaries reduced—but conditions had improved by the late 1930s. In 1943 the synagogue changed its name to Temple Israel, and by the late 1940s membership had almost doubled from its low point in the 1930s. Rabbi Jimmy Wax became known for his activism during the Civil Rights era. In 1976 the congregation constructed its current building, closer to where most members lived. Wax retired in 1978, and was succeeded by Harry Danziger, who brought traditional practices back to the congregation. He retired in 2000, and was succeeded by Micah Greenstein. As of 2010, Temple Israel has almost 1,600 member families. Greenstein is the senior rabbi, and the cantor is John Kaplan. (Read more...)

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Temple Israel Memphis Everyday Entrance

Temple Israel is a Reform Jewish congregation in Memphis, Tennessee. It is the only Reform synagogue in Memphis, the oldest and largest Jewish congregation in Tennessee, and one of the largest Reform congregations in the United States. It was founded in 1853 by mostly German Jews as Congregation B'nai Israel. Led initially by cantors, in 1858 it hired its first rabbi, Jacob Peres, and leased its first building, which it renovated and eventually purchased. The synagogue was one of the founding members of the Union for Reform Judaism. It experienced difficulty during the Great Depression—membership dropped, the congregational school was closed, and staff had their salaries reduced—but conditions had improved by the late 1930s. In 1943 the synagogue changed its name to Temple Israel, and by the late 1940s membership had almost doubled from its low point in the 1930s. Rabbi Jimmy Wax became known for his activism during the Civil Rights era. In 1976 the congregation constructed its current building, closer to where most members lived. Wax retired in 1978, and was succeeded by Harry Danziger, who brought traditional practices back to the congregation. He retired in 2000, and was succeeded by Micah Greenstein. As of 2010, Temple Israel has almost 1,600 member families. Greenstein is the senior rabbi, and the cantor is John Kaplan. (Read more...)

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Weekly Torah Portion

Haazinu (האזינו)
Deuteronomy 32:1–52
The Weekly Torah portion in synagogues on Shabbat, Saturday, 3 Tishrei, 5775; September 27, 2014
“As an eagle that stirs up her nest, hovers over her young, spreads abroad her wings, takes them, bears them on her pinions, the Lord alone did lead [Israel], and there was no strange god with Him.” (Deuteronomy 32:11–12.)
“My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew.” (Deut. 32:2.)
Moses called on heaven and earth to hear his words, and asked that his speech be like rain and dew for the grass. Moses proclaimed that God was perfect in deed, just, faithful, true, and upright. God’s children were unworthy, a crooked generation that played God false, ill requiting the Creator. Moses exhorted the Israelites to remember that in ages past, God assigned the nations their homes and their due, but chose the Israelites as God’s own people.

God found the Israelites in the desert, watched over them, guarded them, like an eagle who rouses his nestlings, gliding down to his young, God spread God’s wings and took Israel, bearing Israel along on God’s pinions, God alone guided Israel. God set the Israelites atop the highlands to feast on the yield of the earth and fed them honey, oil, curds, milk, lamb, wheat, and wine. So Israel grew fat and kicked and forsook God, incensed God with alien things, and sacrificed to demons and no-gods.

God saw, was vexed, and hid God’s countenance from them, to see how they would fare. For they were a treacherous breed, children with no loyalty, who incensed God with no-gods, vexed God with their idols; thus God would incense them with a no-folk and vex them with a nation of fools. A fire flared in God’s wrath and burned down to the base of the hills. God would sweep misfortunes on them, use God’s arrows on them — famine, plague, pestilence, and fanged beasts — and with the sword would deal death and terror to young and old alike.

God might have reduced them to nothing, made their memory cease among men, except for fear of the taunts of their enemies, who might misjudge and conclude that their own hand had prevailed and not God’s. For Israel’s enemies were a folk void of sense, lacking in discernment. Were they wise, they would think about this, and gain insight into their future, for they would recognize that one could not have routed a thousand unless God had sold them. They were like Sodom and Gomorrah and their wine was the venom of asps. God stored it away to be the basis for God’s vengeance and recompense when they should trip, for their day of disaster was near. God would vindicate God’s people and take revenge for God’s servants, when their might was gone. God would ask where the enemies’ gods were — they who ate the fat of their offerings and drank their libation wine — let them rise up to help! There was no god beside God, who dealt death and gave life, wounded and healed. God swore that when God would whet God’s flashing blade, and lay hand on judgment, God would wreak vengeance on God’s foes. God would make God’s arrows drunk with blood, as God’s sword devoured flesh, blood of the slain and the captive from the long-haired enemy chiefs. God would avenge the blood of God’s servants, wreak vengeance on God’s foes, and cleanse the land of God’s people.
view of the Dead Sea from Mount Nebo

Moses came, together with Joshua, and recited all this poem to the people. And when Moses finished reciting, he told them to take his warnings to heart and enjoin them upon their children, for it was not a trifling thing but their very life at stake. That day God told Moses to ascend Mount Nebo and view the land of Canaan, for he was to die on the mountain, as his brother Aaron had died on Mount Hor, for they both broke faith with God when they struck the rock to produce water in the wilderness of Zin, failing to uphold God’s sanctity among the Israelite people.

Hebrew and English Text
Hear the parshah chanted
Commentary from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University (Conservative)
Commentary from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Conservative)
Commentary by the Conservative Yeshiva
Commentary by the Union for Reform Judaism (Reform)
Commentaries from Project Genesis (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Chabad.org (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Aish HaTorah (Orthodox)
Commentaries from the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (Reconstructionist)
Commentaries from My Jewish Learning (trans-denominational)

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