The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation Web site (2008) states, "Reconstructionist Judaism is a progressive, contemporary approach to Jewish life which integrates a deep respect for traditional Judaism with the insights and ideas of contemporary social, intellectual and spiritual life." In this paper, the author will discuss the traditions and practices of traditional Judaism. She will also discuss what makes Reconstructionist Judaism different. The author will compare and contrast Judaism with Islam.
There is no single founder of Judaism, nor is there one single leader or group who makes the theological decisions. Judaism is a tradition associated with the Jewish people. The term "Jewish" can be defined as either a religion or an ethnic group. Jews experience their history as a continuing dialogue with God. The term "Israel" refers to all those who answer God’s call and strive to obey the one God through the Torah or "teaching" that was given to the patriarchs, Moses and the prophets (Fisher, 2005).
Both Judaism and Islam trace their roots back to Abraham. Hagar, Abraham’s servant, bore him a son, Ishmael. Later, Abraham’s wife, Sarah, who was thought to be barren, gave birth to their son, Isaac. Sarah was jealous of Ishmael, so Abraham took Hagar and Ishmael to the desert and left them there. Islam stems from the Ishmael “branch” of Abraham.
The Holy Qur’an is the sacred book of Islam. The Qur’an was received, “as a series of revelations to Muhammad,” (Fisher, 2005). The Hebrew Bible is what Christians refer to as the Old Testament. The first five books are referred to as the “Torah” or “Pentateuch” and are the books of Moses. The stories contained in these books start with the creation of heaven and earth in six days. They also discuss a covenant, which is a “promise” between God and the people. In a covenant, both sides are accountable. The stories also tell of the Israelites’ bondage and exodus from Egypt. Moses was chosen to lead the Israelites out of bondage. “The redemption from bondage by the special protection of the Lord has served ever since as a central theme in Judaism,” (Fisher, 2005).
The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh is made up of three parts: the Torah or Pentateuch; Nevi’im or the Prophets; and Kethuvim or the Writings.