This book is an account of some of the beliefs and practices shared by Jews throughout the world. To know Jews we must know something of their history and their sacred traditions. The author has learned much in the last few years which he would like to share. He is privileged to have many deeply religious and loyal Jewish friends. He has seen them in their places of community worship and in their homes, and has tried to understand what their religion means to them. He hopes that this work will successfully convey the core and spirit of their faith.
The foundation of Judaism rests on two principles, the unity of God and the divine choice of Israel - principles which are fully established in the Bible. That is where we must begin. But Judaism is not a religion of the Bible alone; there is another book, the Talmud, which must be considered. The patterns of later Judaism began to receive form about the time that the New Testament was being written, so we have given that period fairly thorough treatment. Because Judaism and Jewish history are inseparably linked, we have given a thumbnail sketch of the last two thousand years, with particular reference to important themes that interlace the history. The fourth chapter describes religious observances in the home and synagogue, and the feasts and fasts celebrated throughout the year. The concluding chapter answers some of the questions most frequently asked about Judaism.
It is, of course, foolish to say that all religions an, equally true, because religions have different conceptions of God and of the nature and destiny of man, and if it is declared that even contradictory statements are equally true, then truth has no meaning. It is just as foolish to say that it makes no difference what you believe as long as you do what is right, for such a statement implies that beliefs have nothing whatsoever to do with conduct.
Although we have indicated in passing some relationships of the Jewish practices and beliefs to those in Christianity, we do not believe in the principle that attention should be paid only to those beliefs and practices held in common by various religious groups. In an introductory fashion, we have attempted to present Judaism in its fullness. We do not believe that any man should water down his belief or compromise his convictions for the sake of others. We believe that every man should be loyal to the highest he knows.
When a Jew finds his religion meaningful, then in the name of love he should wish to share his belief with others. The same applies to the Christian, or to any other person who has found beliefs that give meaning to his life. If the desire to share is blended with humility and with the knowledge that "now we see in a mirror dimly" (I Cor. 13:12), the dialogue between those of different beliefs and practices can lead to creative interaction, to the glory of God and the welfare of man.
Lee A. Belford