Useful Notes Judaism Discussion

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08:31:40 PM Mar 28th 2014
Some anti-semite just changed the Judaism page into Racist Garbage!!!!
10:44:38 PM Mar 28th 2014
06:55:30 AM Jan 20th 2013
edited by andipacurar

The text of the 'Judaism - Television Tropes & Idioms' says at one point:”In discussing the religious aspects of Judaism, it is most instructive to deal with Orthodox Judaism, which is the most conservative and traditional of the types of Judaism; more recent groups have less structured coherence in their beliefs and are still arguing about many things (such as gay marriage). In any case, one could define the other groups by which bits of Orthodoxy they don't keep.”

This is problematic. On two accounts.

1. Coherence of belief in Judaism 2. How instructive is to deal with Orthodox Judaism

When Tevye was singing songs - roughly 1900 - the Jewish world had not yet splintered in the factions we have today. What you had then - and for the greater part of history - were ethnic divisions: Ashkenazi, Sepharad, Mizrachi, Beta and Bene Israel.

The denominations we know today - orthodox, conservative, reform, etc - they are all equally new, equally arbitrary in their take on earlier practices and beliefs.

Before 1800’ there was no orthodox or conservative or any other denomination: everybody was orthodox AND conservative AND reform.

All Jews were ORTHODOX [1] because each congregation would follow one of the many orthodoxies (‘right way’ form the Greek) called ‘nusach’. And there were myriads of such ‘nusach’ within the larger ethnic groups. Roughly, each town had its own. Why? Because all Jews were also ‘CONSERVATIVE’ (‘masorti’, ‘shomer masoret’ in Hebrew) that is, they all relied on tradition. They all went back to the text [2] but in different ways as they have all done throughout the time: time and again we are told how the rabbis of old would discuss and hardly ever agree on one point or the other;

And this, in its own turn, is so because they were all, at all times, REFORM. The Jewish history is dotted with reforms; one generation after the other reforms the ways of the other: from when Abraham leaves Iraq to live in Canaan to when the Jews leave The Pale of Settlement and other places to settle in the US and Israel.

And in doing so they developed many doctrines some of them concerning themselves with what things are (theologies), with the human agent and destiny (ethics) and others with the rituals.

What happened in the 1900 or so is that some communities believed that remaining Jewish in the face of modernity would be better served by a strict adherence to the ritual laws, others by using the texts to develop responses to modernity while others emphasised that being Jewish is a question of body / birth. They all have notions derived from each of these directions.

But, what is more important for the purposes of this site is that many film-makers thought is to be ‘instructive’ to deal with very obvert and easily recognisable elements of Jewishness whenever they wanted to refer to Jews - and this is, mainly, a matter of the intensely visual nature of the medium of film, as opposed to music or text which can deal with other, less striking aspects. And so the ‘orthodox’ denomination has been taken to symbolise Jewishness altogether because they displayed outward signs of difference and because they emphasised separation from the mainstream society. And that made them ‘interesting’, an appropriate object of a romanticised (orientalised [3]) approach.

The other Jews - no less in their Jewishness, as I argue - displayed less stark dress or ritual distinction to the average person and required more work from the part of the script-writer and the director to get to their ‘Jewishness’, which was more conceptual and ideologic, work that, it seems, few were interested in making.

Tellingly, this is visible on screen from the Yiddish films of Joseph Green in the 30’s and the 40’s to the Biblical epics of 50’s and 60’s and up to the 70’, the ethnologic perspective dominated the representations of Jews in film.

See, for instance, ‘Yidl Mitn Fidl’ by Joseph Green, 1936; ‘Ben Hur’ by William Wyler, 1959 and ‘A Bar Mitzva Boy’ by Kack Rosenthal, 1977.

It is after 1900 that we see this inner, more spiritual and less ethnic Jewishness being explored in films like “Pi’ by Darren Aaronofsky, (1998) ‘Munich’ by Steven Spielberg (2005) or ’A Serious Man’, by the Coen brothers (2009).



[1] The word ‘orthodox’ too is fraught with contention: it implies there is only one orthodoxy as, perhaps, there is in Christianity. From within the ‘orthodox’ community, the ‘orthodoxy’ doesn’t have a name, other than the English word, and this is telling of the fact that there is none ‘authentic’ and if there is one, that is of a very new, post 1900 origin, that was mainly imposed from outside the community. A similar development - dating back to Roman times - is visible to the word ‘Jew’, meaning someone form Judea, a name given to the Israelites when they were taken captives in Babylon.

[2] Torah (the first five books) and the Prophets (‘neviim’ in Hebrew) and ‘The Books’ (‘ketuvim’ in Hebrew) - collectively known as ‘The Hebrew Bible’, The Tanakh’ which is an acronym for the title of the three partsTa-Na-Kh - and the text of the Mishna (the first set of commentaries to the Hebrew Bible) and the Gemara (a commentary to Mishna) that both form the Talmud (‘that which is to be studied’ in Hebrew).

[3] From Edward Said: Orientalism. 1978
09:25:50 PM Mar 5th 2012
Any particular reason why Karaites aren't included?
04:59:48 AM Apr 23rd 2013
Because that's a whole sticky mess that is best reserved for its own page.
09:56:03 PM Jan 3rd 2011
I am curious as to how many of my fellow tropers are also fellow jews, if you are jewish, can you help out by posting in this thread? none jews are welcome to post there too, but it is discouraged, as it would make things confusing
04:57:16 PM May 10th 2010
Question: Why is Messianic Judaism not recognized in the wiki? Sure, a lot of Jews don't recognize it as true Judaism. But denying it's existence as a sect would be like a Christian denying the existence of Jehovah Witness as a sect simply because they don't recognize them as true Christians. So, would anyone object to adding that into the wiki?

Note: Messianic Judaism is a sect that doesn't believe Christianity as being separate from Judaism. That is, Christ was the fulfillment of Judaism.
05:17:12 PM May 10th 2010
edited by SchizoTechnician
That is because the majority of Jews categorize Messianic Judaism as being technically Christians, not Jews, on the basis that they believe Jesus to be Christ, a fundamental tenant and defining characteristic of Christianity.

Jehovah's Witnesses, as different as they are, still fit as Christians in that they still believe Christians to be Christ. A better comparison might be, imagine that there was a Christian sect that accepted the Koran, including its bits about Mohammed being a prophet and Jesus being a prophet rather than the Christ- and that this sect nonetheless referred to itself as Christians, despite fitting the definition of "Muslims" far better. Would other christian denomenations accept them as Christian? No? Well, that's why Messianic Judiasm and Jews for Jesus are considered Christian, not Jewish. There is a dividing line between the two set by the Rabbis and the Romans centuries ago, and that line is if you think his Proper True Name is Yeshua Ben Yosef or Jesus Christ.
06:46:18 AM May 11th 2010
edited by Cidolfas
That's not really the line... "Messianic Jews" use the name Yeshua. The dividing line is whether they think there is such a thing as a "divine human" or not. One of the main tenets of Judaism is the idea of God as unique and perfect; the idea of him having a child is completely anathema to it. Not to mention the whole "Jesus died for our sins" thing - sincere repentance is a huge aspect of Judaism and to claim that it's no longer necessary because some guy died 2,000 years ago would undermine the whole thing.

I've actually seen videos of some of the things Jews for Jesus do and pretend to convince unaffiliated Jews to join them... it's pretty spooky. There's a lot of misappropriation of Jewish texts and symbols (one video showed them intentionally mistranslating the Priestly Blessing - written before Jesus was born - to include a reference to him). More here, particularly here.
04:30:02 PM May 11th 2010
Well, yeah, the Yeshua part isn't important. Its the "Ben Yosef", rather than "Ben Yaweh" that forms the dividing line.
03:17:27 AM Feb 3rd 2012
Yeah, generally Christianity is a belief that Jesus is the Son of God and part of the Holy Trinity. For example, Muslims already believe that Jesus is a prophet and the Messiah, but not the Son of God. Supposedly, any Jewish person who believes that Jesus is the Messiah but not divine would still be Jewish.
05:03:07 AM Apr 23rd 2013
Because the issue is flame bait. Most non-Messianic Jews don't want to be lumped in with Jews for Jesus.
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