World Religions: Judaism

My World Religions class at Lakeside Christian Church continues on.  Last week, we wrapped up our coverage of the major “Abrahamic” religions – those religions that trace their history back to Abraham – in other words, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  This week, we’ll move east by looking at Hinduism.

Photo: Judaica, by Gila Brand via Wikipedia.

Helpful Links

Local links: Cincinnati has a rich Jewish heritage, particularly in Reform Judaism.

  • Hebrew Union College is the oldest Jewish seminary in the U.S.
  • Mayerson Jewish Community Center: In Cincinnati and many other cities, Jewish Community Centers serve as “common ground” where Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative Jews, who may disagree with each other about religious issues, can come together for social, cultural, and service events.
  • Jewish Federation: The “United Way” for Cincinnati’s Jewish charities.
  • David’s Voice: “The Voice of Jewish Cincinnati”

In 2008, several Jewish organizations in Cincinnati collaborated to create the Cincinnati Jewish Community Study. If you’re interested in the Jewish community in Greater Cincinnati, this is a great resource.

Star of David: Some class members were asking about the origins of the Star of David.  The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has an interesting article on the Star’s history and meaning, including several ancient artifacts that use the Star.

Jewish Bloggers: A couple of Jewish bloggers to note:

  • Brad Greenberg is a Jewish-Christian writer, formerly a journalist but now in law school, who writes the God Blog for the Los Angeles-based Jewish Journal. Brad can be a helpful bridge between Jewish and Christian worlds.
  • Rabbi Shmuley Boteach might be the closest thing we have to a “Jewish Billy Graham.”  He writes a blog on

Bonus link for sports fans: did you know that the early days of professional basketball was dominated by Jewish players? Players like Dolph Schayes, legendary coaches like Red Auerbach, owners like Abe Saperstein (the founder of the Harlem Globetrotters) – Brad Greenberg wrote a great story about the Jewish roots of basketball for the Jewish Journal. (Today, there are only two Jewish NBA players – LA Laker point guard Jordan Farmar, and Omri Casspi, an Israeli forward who plays for the Sacramento Kings).

Materials from class are available after clicking “Read More.” Continue reading

Somehow, I Don't Expect Much from Religulous

Comedian Bill Maher has a new movie coming out called “Religulous,” in which he mocks Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, and attempts to encourage religious skepticism. The brief previews I’ve seen don’t look promising, and a story I read today has lowered my expectations further. The movie is produced by both Maher and Larry Charles, who also directed that model of cultural sensitivity, Borat.

Here’s Charles on religion, as quoted by the AP:

“If I believe that Jesus is God and you believe Mohammed is God, then no matter how tolerant we are, we are never going to meet,” Charles said.

Charles then goes on to conclude that religious violence between Christians and Muslims is therefore inevitable.

Except, um, Mr. Charles, Muslims don’t believe that Mohammed is God. And this is a guy who has spent the last year making a movie about Islam. Perhaps he needs to take my world religions class before making his next film.