Essay on Analyzing Our World 's Religions By Stephen Prothero

Essay on Analyzing Our World 's Religions By Stephen Prothero

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History is a curious thing. Our history is what defines us as humans, communities, and nations. Yet, more often than not people wish to forget the past. We fear that if we do not learn from our mistakes that history will repeat itself. However, there still are those that take delight in their background. The Jewish people are among the latter. This importance of history is exemplified through Stephen Prothero’s book analyzing our world’s religions, God is Not One. It was shown even more so through our visit to the local Central Synagogue. Through Prothero’s writing and the Central Synagogue it is clear that Judaism relishes in their history.
One of the ways history shines through Judaism is their use of narrative. As Prothero said in the opening of his chapter about Judaism, “Judasim begins and ends with a story” (243). This can be taking both literally and figuratively. In a literal sense, the Torah begins with the creation story and ends with the story of the people journeying to the Promise Land. Figuratively, their journey was not “the end”. The journey of Judaism has continued onto this day, and is continually ending with a new story. The Central Synagogue also has its own narrative with a beginning and an end. When we visited the Synagogoue, Ronee provided plentiful details not only about the history of the physical place, but of the people who created their community. She detailed everything from the Moorish Revival style of architecture, the reason the building is facing west instead of east and reasons for so many different stars, to the geographical makeup of their congregation, and the inspirations behind the Reform style services they hold. The stories of their past is the reason for their present. These narratives a...

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...uilding. This fire could be compared to the destruction of the Temple. During their three year displacement as the church was rebuilt their congregation grew and strengthened. This demonstrates the prominence of the theme of exile and return in Judaism as a whole.
History is a vital part of Judaism and is displayed in many forms. Through narrative history, the history of the law, and the presence of exile and return through history, a distinct connection can be made between Stephen Prothero’s God Is Not One and the traditions at the Central Synagogue. The ideas of Prothero and the practices displayed help encompass and represent the Jewish culture as whole. Yet, these are not the sole components of Judaism as it is a largely varying religion. However, narrative, law, exile and return and the history behind this characteristics will also be displayed through Judaism.

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