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antisemitism in the world – a term paper describing the role of antisemitism in the world. – anti semitism comparisons of religion judaism religion holocaust christianityThe Jews are a people who can trace their origin all the way back to the biblical Israelites and who are a people united by a religion called Judaism. They are not a race, they are a people who follow the customs of their ancient ancestors. Jewish identity is a mixture of ethnic, and religious elements which can never be lost or taken away. A person who want s to become a part of the Jewish people can do so by converting to Judaism, but a born Jew who decides to reject Judaism or chooses to follow another religion never loses his or her Jewish identity.(Internet source) Being a Jew has many strict requirements that one must follow in order to adhere to the specific guidelines that were set well over 2500 years ago. Over the centuries the Jewish people have been persecuted by many different groups. The Christians, Romans, Spanish, and Germans are just a few on a large list of ignorant people that had no one else but the Jews to blame for all their problems. The fact that someone was a Jew automatically made them a target for slander, beatings, hatred, enslavement and even murder. Jews were a simple people that only wanted to follow the teachings of god and teach others the same. The basic source of Jewish belief is the Hebrew Bible, especially the first five books, which were called the Torah which means teachings.(Atkinson 160) The Torah was regarded as the primary revelation of God and God s law to humanity. Its laws were clarified and revised in the spoken Torah, and through the traditions of the elderly people.(World Book Encyclopedia 1979) Judaism did not stop developing after the Bible was completed, it continued to develop and thrive long after.Individual practices still widely observed by the Jewish people today include the dietary laws, rules concerning the marital relationship, daily prayer, study, and the recital of many blessings especially before and after meals. Traditionally orthodox Jews wear tefillin on their forehead and left arm during morning prayers. They also wear a tallith during prayer and covering their head with a yamaca. Additionally, they place on their doorposts a mezuzah, which is a little box containing a scroll which contains passages of the Torah that stress the unity of God. Jewish males at the age of thirteen have a Bar Mitzvah which is a ceremony celebrating the transformation from boy to man. Females also have similar practices known as Bat Mitzvahs. Judaism was the first religion to teach Monotheism, or belief in one God.(World Book Encyclopedia 1979) This belief is the basis of Judaism and is explained in the opening words of the Shema, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One” (Deut. 6:4). Jews believe that God’s words extends to all people but that God entered into a special Covenant with the ancient Israelites. They do not believe that they were chosen for any special privileges but instead to bring God’s message to mankind by their example.(Atkinson 162)In the Middle Ages, Jews were accused of all kinds of slanders and were scapegoats for the many problems of the world. In 1144, a myth began in England that Jews murdered Christian children. This myth was talked about enough to become an accusation which stated for centuries that the Jews used the blood of young Christian children in the preparation of their Passover bread. This “blood libel” was very ironic in that the consumption of any blood is expressly prohibited by Jewish law. The bubonic plague, the cause of the Black Death that liquidated a quarter of the population of Europe in the 14th century, was also blamed on the Jews in Europe and Asia.(Internet Source)Anti-Semitism refers to prejudice against Jews. Anti-Semitism is the hatred of the Jewish people. The term was first used by a German in 1873, Wilhelm Marr, who founded the “League for Anti-Semitism.”(Davies 24) Marr developed the view that Jews consisted of a distinct racial group which were both physically and morally inferior to the Aryans. According to Marr, there was unquestionable scientific evidence that the Jews were inclined to be a slave race while the Aryans were the only Master Race. The term Anti-Semitism does not refer to all the Semites. It does not include the Arabs , it only directs hatred to all of the Jews.(Davies 24)In 1543, the father of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther wrote “First their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. Jewish homes, he urged, should likewise be broken down or destroyed. Jews should then be put under one roof, or in a stable, like Gypsies, in order that they may realize that they are not masters in our land. They should be put to work, to earn their living by the sweat of their noses, or if regarded even then as too dangerous, these poisonous bitter worms should be stripped of their belongings which they have extorted usuriously from us and driven out of the country for all time.” (Internet Source)

Another example of the hatred could be found when you look at the Justinian code. The Justinian Code was a declaration of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. A section of the code denied civil rights for Jews. Once the code was enforced, Jews in the Empire could not build synagogues, read the Bible in Hebrew, gather in public places, celebrate Passover before Easter, or give evidence in a judicial case in which a Christian was a litigant.(World Book Encyclopedia 1979)The early Christians have always held the Jews responsible for the crucifixion of Christ, this was an allegation that became the justification for anti-Semitism for many centuries. The early Christians had much in common with the Jews. But after the death of Christ they wanted nothing to do with the Jews. The earliest Christians differed from the Jews primarily in their belief that Jesus was the messiah. Other differences were that the Jews observed strict dietary laws. They could not, according to law, share a meal in their neighbors’ homes. Jews also could not, according to law, work on the seventh day. Christians observed Sunday as their Sabbath. Also according to their law, Jews were not supposed to marry outside their faith, and most did not. Jews maintained their traditional dress and continued to wear beards and earlocks. When the Roman Empire became officially Christian in the 4th century AD, the Jews became subject to many discriminatory laws, including a prohib!ition against seeking or even accepting converts.(Internet Source)Many Jewish communities rebelled against Rome early in the second century. However, their rebellions were crushed, and many Jews lost their lives. Even worse was the revolt of Palestinian Jewry led by Bar Kochba in 132 which was over after three years of fighting. For a long time thereafter, observance of the basic Jewish practices and customs were made capital crimes, and Jews were banned from Jerusalem.(Gager 61)In 1391 thousands of Jews were massacred by the Spanish and thousands more were converted by force or accepted baptism to save their lives. These so called “new Christians” who were also known as Marranos, were suspected of practicing Judaism in secret. Many Marranos rose to high positions in the court and in the church, but they were constantly spied on, and many were killed in the “autos-da-fe”, which was a festive celebration in which the baptized Jews who were caught still practicing Judaism were burned at the stake.(World Book Encyclopedia 1979)Nevertheless, Jews were needed in the very countries that persecuted them. Christians were not able to take interest on loans; as a result, Jews were required to engage in money lending. In general, they were excluded from ownership of land and from the organizations that controlled the skilled professions. Eventually Christian money lenders learned to collect interest under other names, and the Jews were no longer needed. They were expelled from England in 1290 and, after several earlier bans, finally from the kingdom of France in 1394.(Internet Source)Jews had long been accustomed to living in neighborhoods of their own, for their own security and for quick access to a synagogue. From the 16th century, however, they were forced to live in walled enclosures almost like jails, to be locked in at night and on Christian holidays, and to wear distinguishing badges when outside the walls. These areas were called Ghettos.(World Book Encyclopedia1979) To this day we still use the term Ghetto to describe the poorest of neighborhoods. Even after centuries of murderous torment the Jews are still here fighting an endless war. There are still people in the world that believe that Jews are the root of all evil. Some people even go as far to accuse the Jews as being the devil. Judaism today has over 17 million followers throughout the world. It is the oldest living religion in the Western world. Historically, Judaism served as the basis for Christianity and Islam, the other two great monotheistic religions, which together with Judaism claims about half of the world’s population.

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