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Judaism or Judaisms?

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Essay title: Judaism or Judaisms?

It has been argued that Judaism can be seen not only as a single

religion, but as a group of similar religions. It has also been

pointed-out that through all the trials and tribulations that Judaism

has suffered through, that there have been common themes that have

proven omni-pervasive. Any institution with roots as ancient and varied

as the religion of the Jews is bound to have a few variations,

especially when most of its history takes place in the political and

theological hot spot of the Middle East.

In this discussion, many facets of Judaism will be examined, primarily

in the three temporal subdivisions labeled the Tribal / Pre-Monarchy

Period, the Divided Monarchy, and the Hasmonean / Maccabean and Roman

Era. Among all the time periods where the religion has been split,

these three seem to be the most representative of the forces

responsible.

As for a common thread seen throughout all Judiasms, the area of focus

here is the place associated with the religion : Jerusalem. This topic

will be covered in detail first, and then the multiple Judaism arguments

will be presented. In this way, it is possible to keep a common focus

in mind when reading about all the other situations in which the

religion has found itself. A brief conclusion follows the discussion.

A Place to Call Home

No other religion has ever been so attached to its birthplace as

Judaism. Perhaps this is because Jews have been exiled and restricted

from this place for most of their history. Jerusalem is not only home

to Judaism, but to the Muslim and Christian religions as well.

Historically this has made it quite a busy place for the various groups.

Jerusalem is where the temple of the Jews once stood; the only place on

the whole Earth where one could leave the confines of day to day life

and get closer to God. In 586 BCE when the temple was destroyed, no Jew

would have denied Jerusalem as being the geographic center of the

religion. From that point on, the Jewish people have migrated around

the world, but not one of them forgets the fact that Jerusalem is where

it all began. It is truly a sacred place, and helps to define what

Judaism means to many people; a common thread to run through all the

various splinters of the religion and help hold them together.

Even today, as the Jewish people have their precious Jerusalem back

(through the help of other nations and their politics) there is great

conflict and emotion surrounding it. Other nations and people in the

area feel that they should be in control of the renowned city, and the

Jews deny fervently any attempt to wrestle it from their occupation. It

is true that there is no temple in Jeruslaem today, nor are all the Jews

in the world rushing to get back there. But it is apparent that the

city represents more to the religion of Judaism than a mere place to

live and work. The city of Jerusalem is a spiritual epicenter, and

throughout Judaism's long and varied history, this single fact has never

changed.

Tribal / Pre-Monarchy

Judaism's roots lie far back in the beginnings of recorded history. The

religion did not spring into existence exactly

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