Star of David

Star of David 1

Torah

Torah 2

A Covenant People

Excerpts from The Complete Book of Jewish Observance

by Leo Trepp

What is Judaism?

"Judaism is a religion. Judaism is a civilization. Jews live apart. Jews live at the center of history. These are strange contradictions. They have made it very difficult for non-Jews to understand us. ... We are not simply a religion. Unlike the Christian, who is admitted into his faith by the act of baptism, the Jewish child belongs to Jewry from the moment of his or her birth, The child is of the people."1

"A convert to Judaism affiliates not merely with a faith, but with a folk. Yet, we are not simply a people either. Throught history we have been able to endure for long periods without a soil of our own. All other nations perish when soil and language wee taken from them. We did not because our 'religion' upheld us."2

"We are not a race. As early as Abraham we have admitted others into our fold. A mixed multitude of many non-Jews joined the Exodus."3

"The Israelites set out from Rameses for Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, not counting the children. A crowd of mixed ancestry also went up with them, besides their livestock, very numerous flocks and herds." (Exodus 12:37-38)4

"What are we, then?" ... Torah makes it clear"

"You stand this day all of you before the LORD your God; the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and the sojourner who is in your camp, both he who hews your wood and he who draws your water, 12 that you may enter into the sworn covenant of the LORD your God, which the LORD your God makes with you this day; 13 that he may establish you this day as his people, and that he may be your God, as he promised you, and as he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 14 Nor is it with you only that I make this sworn covenant, 15 but with him who is not here with us this day as well as with him who stands here with us this day before the LORD our God."5

"We are a covenant people, a mystical body, unique among the peoples of the earth. We are a family, a household, Bet Yisrael. The covenant makes us both a religion and a people.6

References

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