Ethnicity Online

Cultural Awareness in Healthcare

Jews: Introduction To Judaism

Judaism is also a state that can be inherited; a child born to a Jewish mother, even if she never practises any of the things expected of a Jew, is considered to be Jewish. Recently, Liberal and Reform groups have extended this ruling to include children born to a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother; such children are considered to be Jewish by these groups, although not by Orthodox Jews.

The religious aspects of Judaism are based very much on relationships; the relationship of G-d and man and the relationships between humans based on principles of fairness and equality. Belief in G-d is a personal acceptance of this close connection between an individual and G-d, and religious observance is a means of publicly displaying the state of this relationship.

Judaism is a religion, race and way of life with a long history, and one whose believers can be found all over the world. Jews believe that they are the chosen people of G-d, and that this blessing requires them, in turn, to do their best to adhere to his laws. These were given by G-d directly to Moses about 4500 years ago, and are called the Torah.

It is hard to define Judaism solely as a single religion because it is so widely distributed across the world, and each community often has a slightly different way of interpreting the laws that govern their lives. All Jews can be divided into three major categories:

Orthodox Jews believe that the Torah is the direct word of G-d and so it is perfect, divine, eternal and must be followed strictly. Orthodox Jews will often face more potential conflicts and problems than other Jews while they are an inpatient or a member of staff, simply because so much has changed since the Torah was written. Orthodox staff and patients might need a lot of support, and would appreciate the advice of a rabbi being sought when conflict arises.

Reform and Liberal/Progressive Jews believe that the Torah is the word of G-d translated by humans from an ancient culture and so, although the spirit of the law is eternal, the letter can – and often should – be tempered by modern circumstances. Reform and Progressive jews may well observe the Sabbath, circumcise their male children and eat kosher food, but they are often otherwise fully integrated into whatever community they live in. They like to concentrate on what they believe is the heart of their religion, which is the relationship between the self and other Jews, between Jews and the rest of the world, and between the world and G-d.

leaders

Rabbis are considered to be the most prominent figures in any Jewish community. However, they are not elected leaders nor are they priests with a special relationship with G-d. They are teachers, well versed in Jewish law (halakah) and often act as a mediator in their community. They are the person that everyone goes to with their problems, the one who discusses and provides interpretation of Jewish law and who may carry out some ceremonies on behalf of their community.

judaism

Jews consider themselves a nation rather than a religious community; they are a hugely diverse group that shares some aspects of religious observance and have shared historical roots. They have a great sense of community – indeed, the Jewish nation is more like an extended family with its close connections and shared sense of discipline.

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