More than almost any other religion, Judaism is marked by the central role of history and by remembrance of a long, eventful past whose traces reach to the present day. Whether looked at from a theological or cultural standpoint, whether seen as a people or a community with a shared fate, Judaism and Jewry bear the stamp of more than 3,000 years of recounting and interpretation of historical events. Though Jews have never made up more than one percent of the world’s population, they nevertheless have made an indelible impression on cultures the world over.

Despite the fact that there are Jews virtually throughout the world, their numbers are relatively low, with about 13.5 million members currently (as opposed to some 2.1 billion Christians and 1.3 billion Muslims). Yet people everywhere have both heard about Jews and developed their own opinions about Jews and their history. There is no truly neutral position when it comes to reflections on Jewish history. The Bible (in Hebrew: Torah) itself is understood as a book of history and teachings on how to live properly.

The written Torah is one of several means to transmit Jewish religious teachings. The oral tradition also has been recorded and passed down through the Mishna, Talmud and Shulchan Aruch, which form an essential component of religious tradition. Each branch of Judaism, from the ultra-Orthodox to the egalitarian, has its own interpretations of the religious commandments and prohibitions that affect daily life for Jews. Given these varied standpoints, one can find a broad range of answers to such questions as »Who is a Jew?« or »How much influence do rituals, commandments and prohibitions have on everyday life for Jews?« or »What is the meaning of Israel for Jews?« For a more thorough explication of religious themes, see the website of the Central Council of Jews in Germany: www.zentralratdjuden.de.

Here you will find interpretations by rabbis and others on such themes as holidays, weekly Torah portions, daily life from a religious standpoint, and more. The collection of texts is growing.

The following recommended reading (in German) is by no means completely representative, and should only serve as an introduction to the themes:

On Jewish history:
Simon Dubnow, Weltgeschichte des jüdischen Volkes, Jüdischer Verlag, Berlin, 1925, 10 Bände

Leon Poliakov, Geschichte des Antisemitismus - Zwischen Assimilation und »jüdischer Weltverschwörung«, Heintz Verlag, Worms, 1977 – 1988, 8 Bände

Michael Brenner, Kleine jüdische Geschichte, C. H. Beck-Verlag, München, 2009

On Jewish religion:
(Aus der Eigenwerbung: Ohne Vorkenntnisse in die besondere Methodik und Dynamik des Talmudstudiums einsteigen) Yaacov Zinvirt Tor zum Talmud,

Jüdisches Lehrhaus – lebendiges Judentum, Bd. 1, 184 S., 19,90 €, br, ISBN 3-8258-1882-1

SympathieMagazin: »Judaism verstehen«, Gesa und Nils Ederberg, 3,60 €, order through: www.sympathiemagazin.de

Address & Contact

Jüdische Gemeinde zu Berlin

Oranienburger Str. 28-31
10117 Berlin
Tel.: (0 30) 88 02 8-0
Fax: (0 30) 88 02 8-2679

Send a message