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Modern Jewish History - Case Study Example

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Modern Jewish History

This led to changing attitudes among Rabbis, as the faith began to become less strict. While it could be argued that this modernization became necessary in order for the faith to survive, it can also be argued that it takes away from the Jewish experience as a whole. The modernization of Jews in the Ottoman and Northern Africa differed greatly from the modernization of Jews in Europe because they were surrounded by different cultural elements in each place.
The leaders of the European Jews viewed modernization as a destructive force that had the potential to ruin Judaism as a whole. Modernism was compared to a whirlwind by these leaders, which would become a destructive force against tradition and, therefore, the religion as a whole. What occurred because of these new modern ideas was a split between Jews in Europe. Traditionalists believed that everything new was forbidden by the Torah and this caused for those who wished to change the structure of Judaism to leave the religion and form their new branches. All of this was based on fear for the Rabbis of Europe and this fear overtook the religion and caused it to split. By not allowing for changes to be made in order to accommodate the new modern world, Rabbis created even more problems for European Jews. One such change that occurred involved how Jews were to dress. The modern world was creating new fashions and many Jewish people wished to change how they dress. The Rabbis believed, however, that this would make them indistinguishable from the Gentiles, which is going against the Torah because it is a form of shame. Many of these Jews also wished to take part in activities outside of their religious circles, such as become involved in politics or discussion groups. All in all, the leadership of the European Jews was responsible for the opposition to modernization and, therefore, responsible for dissecting the religion because of this.
In Arab countries, Rabbis took a slightly different approach to modernization. While they did believe that modernization could cause some major problems for the faith, they also believed that many of the forces of modernization could be used to their advantage. They did not come out against modernization, but rather worked with in it order to ensure that Judaism would survive in the region, which included a rejection of many European ideologies, as they asked the question: "
what in the culture of European peoples is superior to Arab culture, by which Iraqi Jews have been influences, that would make it appear preferable to them'".1 This led to a much less chaotic atmosphere in religious circles, as the people did not feel like they had to go against their religion in order to fit in with the rest of the modern world. The religious aspects of Judaism became less strict over this time as well. While the religious leaders were not happy with this fact, they also realized that they had to adapt to the times in order to help people to keep the faith. This is why they did not overreact when young Jewish men began trimming and later shaving their beards. While this was not allowed by Jewish tradition, the Rabbis realized that they could not stop modernization and, therefore, they moved away from some of the traditions, while keeping others alive. Because the modernization in the Arab world took place much later than in Europe, the Rabbis were able to learn from the mistakes of Europe, in order to ensure t ...Show more


11) Throughout history, the Jewish people have been faced with potential problems that could wipe the faith out completely. While many of these problems come from external sources, there have also been internal problems that have threatened the tradition that the faith holds…
Author : elwyn33
Modern Jewish History essay example
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