Judaism Essay, Research Paper
Life presents each of us with different home settings and environments. We have been brought up by previous generations to maintain and continue this set of family beliefs and values, which we can in turn call our heritage. This heritage defines and classifies each individual in our multicultural society. Growing up as a young boy, I would annually ask why this night would be different from all other nights. I fast a couple of days each year and can speak fluent Hebrew. My monotheistic views lead me to believe that our one and only God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. In case my heritage is still a mystery to you, I come from a Jewish background. My background allows me to feel a special connection to all that share my beliefs. Hebrew is the language of the bible as well as the flagship language of Judaism. Hebrew was used as an everyday language until it suddenly died. Two thousand years later, it has now been revived and is among the living languages. Like myself, there are many others who share my enthusiasm and relief that part of my heritage is once again proudly recognized universally among Jews and non-Jews alike.
Particular backgrounds allow many to feel a special connection to those who share their heritage and beliefs. “A Jewish visitor from the United States or elsewhere feels at once a sense of ‘mishpachah’…” ( Comay 68)
The word mishpachah can be translated into English as meaning family . My Jewish heritage enables me to share mutual sentiments and emotions with family and friends of the Jewish community. Throughout history, Jewish people have been battling long and hard for their survival. The Jewish people have never given up their rights to have their own religion, their own homeland and to be their own nation. The Spanish Inquisition, The Holocaust and the on-going power struggle between Israel and Palestine present clear examples of the resilience and courage of the Jewish nation. Due to constant roadblocks standing in the path of the Jewish peoples acceptance in the world, most Jews feel an instant bond with one another. While some practice Judaism religiously, others choose not to. The common denominator shared amongst all levels of religion within the community is their background and history.
The importance of maintaining the Hebrew language and passing it on from generation to the next far exceeds the boundaries of communication. It is a symbol of unity and a means of tying the bond between Jewish people universally. The repercussions of losing the Hebrew language would be irreversible.
They lose not only the ability to express the simplest of
Daily sentiments and needs but they can no longer understand the
Ideas, concepts, insights, attitudes, rituals, ceremonies, institutions
Brought into being by their ancestors; and having lost the power
To understand, cannot sustain, enrich, or pass on their heritage . (Johnston 239)
These principles, spoken with the Ojibwah heritage in mind are applicable to all cultures at risk of extinction. The Hebrew language was spoken in the ancient times, in Palestine, and is written in the old Biblical alphabet which was only familiar to those who used it for religious purposes (Comay 284). The Hebrew language fell out of use as the everyday language of the Jewish people. The language, no longer considered the mother tongue of the Jewish people, continued to find a need as it was used for the purposes of studying the Torah and praying. The language was revived in the nineteenth century with the help of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda . Just like the Jewish people, their language too had the bravery and strength to lift its head high and gaze directly into the eyes of adversity and overcome it. Israelis (now) read newspapers in the language of the Bible (St. John 103), something that was seemingly inconceivable in the nineteenth century. Today, the Jewish people appreciate not only their forefathers struggle for survival as a nation, but the firm grip that they have on their identity as one too. It has been said, “In a graduating class of 2000 B.C., nobody would have picked the Hebrews as most likely to survive.” (Comay 23).
The initial loss of the language has hopefully provided more than enough for the Jewish people to realize that it is something that they cannot let go of once again, or their language and unity may die once and for all.
The Hebrew language is a vital element in the makeup of the Jewish religion. The insurance that their language continues to grow and survive in the future holds extreme importance in the hearts of the Jewish people. Language is an asset to any religion. It is a means of distinguishing oneself from the rest of the world in a unique and communicative fashion. By giving their children and grandchildren the opportunity to learn and make use of the language, the Jewish people can be sure that it continues to stand as a living language. To ensure that not only the Hebrew language, but the Jewish religion as well, will survive in the future, parents should teach their children to observe traditional customs and learn as much as possible about their heritage. Modern Hebrew is the only language based on an ancient written form (Aramaic), which developed as an actual language. The recognition and appreciation of this language is apparent by Jews and Non-Jews as it is offered at colleges worldwide as an optional modern language course.
As a young man growing up in a Jewish home setting, my heritage and the Hebrew language play important roles in my life. The language, along with the customs and traditions, provides me with much insight into the Jewish religion. It is blossoming each and every day and is presently expanding its horizons above and beyond expectations. Although Hebrew is no longer considered the Holy Language , it will forever remain a holy language in the hearts of Jewish people everywhere. This language has fought a battle for identity, just as the Jews have been battling for survival and continue to do so. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda can claim a large portion of the responsibility for the language s current existence. His dream was that after having been exiled from their home for two thousand years, the Jewish people would reclaim the land of Israel for their own and revive their lifeless Hebrew language. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda s one-time dream has become our lifetime reality, and ultimately our destiny.