History of NYC: Dutch Beginnings

I started reading the book “New York City: A Short History” by George Lankevich. I think most books on the city are very dense, but this one is very doable. So far I finished the first chapter “New Amsterdam.” It’s been interesting to learn about the very beginnings and growth of the greatest city in…

Judaism: What Comes Next?

While learning about Judaism, I came across an idea that was extremely surprising to me. Judaism did not have a strong, clear notion of the afterlife. As a Muslim, this came out of left field for me, because every other page in the Qur’an, the very same God of the Israelites warns us of the…

Judaism: Different Sects

Different Jewish sects have changed over time. Ancient Divisions PHARISEES: The common people Jews. Both the Torah and oral tradition (Talmud) were legitimate. SADDUCEES: They were the priestly, aristocratic group, who controlled much of the Temple and Sanhedrin, the religious court. They were very strict on interpretation, only taking into account the Torah, not oral…

Judaism: Holidays

Here in New York, students get off from school due to the Jewish holidays (and how so thankful we are for those days off). I’ve always wanted to know what these days are really about. All Year Round SABBATH: Every Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Honors the creation of the world and the “rest” God…

Judaism: Scriptures

TANAKH There are 24 canonical books in the ancient Hebrew books, called the Tanakh. They were written over the span of a thousand years. The authorship is still in question, but there were obviously numerous writers, many believing Moses to have written much (or even all of it?). There seems to be at least four…

Judaism: Trust in God

The ancient Jews were surrounded by powerful polytheistic empires: Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Canaanites, Phoenicians. All these cultures were devoutly religious, praying to the deities of nature. There were sun gods, rain gods, fertility gods etc. Judaism’s message was completely revolutionary, as it took focus away from what was visibly seen and shifted to the unseen.…

Judaism: Home and Away

Now that I’ve finished doing the major eastern religions, I’m delving into the three Abrahamic religions, starting off with the oldest, Judaism. This is a (very) short history of the Jewish people.  THE BEGINNING Judaism’s pivotal beginning starts with the greatest patriarch of biblical times, Abraham. He hailed from Sumer, possibly around 1800 BCE. Abraham,…