history2cpaper - Joshua Daniel History 2C TA Israel A...

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Joshua Daniel History 2C TA Israel: A Nation of Religion and Survival “Undoubtedly it is our destiny to remain a small people, and we will survive on through our spiritual vitality.” 1 These were the words of the foremost person involved in the founding of the modern day state of Israel, David Ben-Gurion. Since the days of ancient Israelite kings and even further to the time of the patriarch of Israel, Abraham, the nation of Israel has been concerned with only two things: survival and religion. The reason for this is the deep connection between Jewish beliefs and the survival of the Jewish people. They are inexorably one and the same. The will of the people of Israel becomes a way of practicing a religion, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Ironically, these same beliefs are the reasons for why the Israel is a major target for extermination in the Middle East and is constantly under attack from other nations. Religion is such an integral part of the history of the Jews and yet a point of contests that it is a threat to the survival of the Jews. The Hebrew Bible, or Tanakh, is a fundamental piece of Jewish history and contains the bulk of the beliefs and lineage of Judaism as well. In Genesis, the first book of the Tanakh, it records Abram’s encounter with Yahweh. It is here that Abram, which means “exalted father”, is given the new name Abraham, or “father of many nations.” However, it was the promises given to Abraham concerning his descendents that would prove the most important part of the Tanakh. Further along, Yahweh makes an everlasting covenant in which he swears to look after Abraham and his descendants
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forever. This is the beginning of the marriage between survival and religion in Jewish history. The distinct way in which a nation’s God made a promise and swore to fulfill it is the glue that holds Judaism, and even Christianity, together. Failure to protect the line of Abraham from annihilation would result in an unfaithful God who violates his own will and word according to the Jew’s sacred text. The destruction of the Jewish line altogether, as was attempted by Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich, would instantly destroy Judaism along with Christianity from a theological standpoint. For the Jew who embraces Judaism, simply being alive is a continual fulfillment of a promise and existing becomes a part of the religion practiced. This brings up a significant point. Despite the fact that Judaism is almost exclusively focused on the Jew, not all Jews practice Judaism. Today, the majority of Jews living in the modern state of Israel claim to be secular, despite Western stereotypes that label every Jew as religious. Even the Jew that does not believe in Yahweh and rejects his teachings remains connected to the religion by heritage. How can this be? As Raymond Kennedy, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Yale University, argued that “the Jews are characterized by definite traditions and modes of thought and behavior
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course HIST 2C taught by Professor Stokes during the Spring '07 term at UCSB.

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history2cpaper - Joshua Daniel History 2C TA Israel A...

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