This paper is going to discuss mostly the Judaism religion plus the origin and significance of their beliefs and practices and the basis for Christianity through the life of Jesus Christ. It will also discuss how each of these festivals have developed the culture, national identity, socio-economic impact in the lives of Jews and Christians, and the evidences in the synagogue and
churches of today.
Judaism is a uniform or unity religion whose followers are known as Jews. A Jew is a person who is either born in the family of Jews of a convert to the same. This group of people who believe in the same doctrines regard themselves as a nation, but not followers. Their traditions state that Judaism starts with the agreement between God and Abraham and their descendants, together with the laws given to them through Moses. They also believe in God the creator of the world and whatever else is in it.
Abrahams (p.38) says that Judaism is unpopular because they do not attract or welcome people to their religion, since some of them still think that they are superior to other men. Back in the days, they used to do missionary practices, especially when it was the only religion nationally, but later stopped.
They have always treasured the Torah study or what they call the five books of Moses and the commandments given to them by God. They have texts that are used in their teachings. Their traditions state that they have 613 laws contained in the Torah. It future says that part of the commandments were meant only for men, others only for women, and other laws only for farmers, but only in the existence of the Temple that was in Jerusalem. They mostly followed the oral laws given to them by the Pharisees which later were written down by the Rabbis.
They have a day of worship which is called the Shabbat, normally the Sabbath Day for Christians. This worship day starts before sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. On this day they do not work at all, they observe the day as holy and dedicate it fully to God.
Cohn-Sherbok (p.343) says that Jews practices and believes display Judaism as a way of life. They believe in the unity of God that means that God is one, according to the book of Deuteronomy 6:4. there is only one God who is the creator of all things and the earth.
They say that all human beings are brothers and sisters, because they were all created in the image and likeness of God. You can say that much has not changed for the Christians either, only that some now go to church on Sunday, but still follow the ten commandments of God and use the Bible too.
Yom Kippur refers to the Atonement day, or the reconciliation day of God and man, which is a very significant day in the Jewish calendar. This day started after the Israelites disobeyed God by worshiping the idols, then Moses went to Mt. Sinai to repent on their behalf. While he was there, they fasted and repented. After the tenth day, Moses returned from Mt. Sinai, carrying the second tablets. This marked the first Yom Kippur where Jews could repent their sins and renew their covenant with God. This is the holiest day of the year, where people fast and pray for repentance. It is usually the tenth and final Day of Atonement, where they repent to God of their mistakes against Him, and a change of behavior. During the night, they confess of guilt, and then later are considered clean.
During this season in Israel, the media houses are closed; no public means, plus all businesses are closed. It is observed as a Sabbath, since no work is done on this day, or even to eat or drink, only prayer and fasting. The only group of people exempted from fasting is children under the age of nine plus the women bearing a child until three days are over, after giving birth, or if life or health of a person is threatened.
The prayers start from 8or9am in the morning to 3pm. Afterwards, people are allowed to take a nap, then come back from 5/6pm for the evening programs which go up to the next day. They usually have white clothing on, to symbolize purity, or/and forgiveness of sins. This is the only time that the high priest enters the Temple, to perform a ritual of repentance for every Israelite. Ben Ezra (p.37) says that some of them conducted communal prayers, especially in Palestine. This holiday happens eight days after Jewish new year, because they believe God inscribes their names on the books on the new year, then judged and sealed on Yom Kippur.
As for the Christians, they still celebrate the Atonement day, especially the Catholic churches among others, but may not have as many practices and procedures as the Jews. They still have a day of repentance in their calendar where they go and ask for forgiveness from the Priest. The protestants may not have this day celebrated but they believe in the repentance of sin and reconciliation with God. The difference is that they don’t have structured ways of doing it, as the Jews do.
It’s the first holiday of Yamim Noraima, also called the New Year, which is celebrated at the beginning of Tishrei. It is also considered as a day people should rest and observe the Sabbath. They are not allowed to work on this day. A trumpet made from a ram’s horn is blown to alert people and remind them of the awaiting judgment. On the celebration day, Piyyuttim or the religious poems especially from Psalms are included in the normal service programs.
Groner (p.4) says that Rosh Hashanah people are happy full of joy because of ushering the new year. It continues to say that it is an important period too because people search their souls and the things they have done before, and meditate on how they could be better people in the future.
People dip apples in honey, or bread, to symbolize and wish for a sweet year. They have another practice that they call casting off their sins, where they go to flowing waters to empty their pockets, which happens on the first afternoon. This way they experience cleansing of sins and feel new again.
Christianity does not have this kind of a practice, only that they have a new year’s celebration at the end of each year. They do this to give thanks to the Lord for keeping them alive this whole time. They usher in the new year with songs, dance and thanks giving. Some may stay up the eve of the new year praying and celebrating the fact that they are alive.
This is a Jewish festival that marks the day God saved them when He killed Egyptian first born. When the full moon appears, on the month of Nisan, it is when Passover starts. In the first night of Passover they eat Matzo. They celebrate the fact that they were saved from death by the God that they worship. Moses smeared blood of the lamb on their doors, which was supposed to protect them from being killed. They were passed over by the angle of death who was supposed to kill the first born boys thus the name pass over. The current Christian also has this as a holiday to celebrate saving of the flock of God in remembrance of the blood of the lamb.
After the violation of the Temple of Jerusalem, Hanukkah ceremony was prepared to re-dedicate it. This was on 25, 165 BC. It is a holiday celebrated for eight nights, usually to remember the 2nd temple in Jerusalem. It usually appears on late November to probably late December, and starts on the 25t day of Kislev. Lights are kindled. For every night of the holiday, only one light is on, until the eight day. Besides all this, a special light called Shamash is lit either below or above the rest. In the Jewish life, number eight is significant because it means infinite. The day after the days of creation and Sabbath. On this day too, is when the male are circumcised, thus making it a special day for them. Just like Jesus was circumcised on this day, so the Jews too circumcise their children who are boys on this day too.
This day is not celebrated in the Christian calendar at all, just that some Christians believe in the Sabbath, and know that Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day.
After the first fruits were harvested, it is when the Jews celebrated the Pentecost, meaning the last celebration of the harvest. On the eve of the celebrations, the current Jews now study the law with other scriptures. It also means fiftieth, that is from Greek, meaning 50 days after the Easter holidays. It is said to be a humble day because it demonstrates the forgiveness of sin and defeating death. The Holy Ghost was sent so that it would always guide the human being in doing the right thing. It was when Jesus had left, so He brought the Holy Spirit to be wit them. On this day, the Jews also celebrated the law. The day the law of God was given to them by Moses, Holy Ghost being the current agreement to Christians with God.
Christians are also celebrating the Pentecost, to celebrate the pouring of the Holy Ghost. It is usually celebrated b the Christians. This is done to celebrate when the holy host came down to the disciples plus other followers of Christ, while in prayer. It is also said to be the oldest celebration in Church, back in the first century. On this day, different churches have different activities going on, like baptism, decorations of the church, among others.
Churches versus Synagogue
Burtchaell says that much has not changed when it comes to church. This is because the leadership has mostly being retained. He says that Christianity just continued the offices of the synagogue, but with very little changes, may be just the names, but mostly the same kind of leadership.
The architecture of churches has mostly followed that of Synagogue, for example some of the Catholic Church buildings that came up on those days. The church of today also has priest who lead the churches just like before, deacons, elders to lead the church activities among other kinds of leaders that are delegated by the church administration to run the business of the church. Christians do fast too. They fast to repent of their sins and pray for different needs, though they do not have specific holidays that all this is administered. The difference is that the Jews make it a must for the followers to fast, but the Christians leave it for individuals to decide if they would like to fast or not.
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