Issues And Traditions Of Western Religions

1358 words - 5 pages

Issues and Traditions of Western ReligionsReligion can be defined with many different meanings. "The English word "religion" is derived from the Middle English "religioun" which came from the Old French "religion." It may have been originally derived from the Latin word "religo" which means "good faith," "ritual," and other similar meanings. Or it may have come from the Latin "religãre" which means "to tie fast." (Religious Tolerance, 2006). This essay will use a very common and broad definition of religion: "Religion is any specific system of belief about deity, often involving rituals, a code of ethics, a philosophy of life, and a worldview." (Religious Tolerance, 2006). This essay will discuss three very popular religions; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam including a brief summary of the top issues facing each of these religions as well as sacred traditions and significant characteristics of each of the religions.JudaismJudaism is one of the most ancient and time-faring religions known to man. Even though it has stood the test of time, issues still face the religion. One of the current issues that Jews are facing is anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has existed for thousands of years and can be defined as "discrimination, hostility or prejudice directed at Jewish people. Acts of anti-Semitism can range from individual hatred to violent persecution. Extreme examples of persecution include the Spanish Inquisition, eviction from Spain, various pogroms, and above all, Adolf Hitler's Holocaust." (Wikipedia, 2008). Other examples of anti-Semitism include Palestinian attacks against Israel and the continuous threats against Jewish places of worship (Anti-Defamation League, 2008).Another current issue facing the religion of Judaism is the decline of the Jewish population. Intermarriage and assimilation coupled with Jews marrying later in life and having fewer children are all causing dramatic decreases in the Jewish population. Also, a great deal of intermarriage is occurring. This is an issue facing the religion because less and less children of the intermarried couples are being raised as Jews. This is causing the population of the Jewish religion to decline dramatically.Followers of the Judaism religion can often be recognized by the skullcap called a kippah. A kippah is worn mainly by Jewish men while doing things such as praying, eating and studying. The only wearing the kippah is required is during prayer. The purpose of wearing the kippah is somewhat unclear. Some say that wearing the kippah is to distinguish Jews from Christians, especially during prayer. Other views state that the kippah represents the covering of the head by God's palm.Judaism also has many recognizable holiday traditions such as Shabbat and Hanukkah. Shabbat is a weekly day of rest from shortly before sundown on Friday night to shortly after sundown on Saturday night. During this time, Jews are forbidden to engage in any activity that would be categorized as work. This is...

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