Today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, or the holiest day in the Jewish Calendar. Last week the Boston Globe published 11 questions about the Jewish High Holidays you were too embarrassed to ask. I thought it was interesting that this would be published in Boston which is, after all, not exactly an area that is unfamiliar with Jews.
For those of you who don’t know or don’t remember, Yom Kippur is part of the High Holy Days, the period between the the Jewish New Year, and the Day of Atonement 10 days later. According to Jewish tradition, on Rosh Hashannah God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book, the so-called “Book of Life,” and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict. During these “Days of Awe,” Jews seeks forgiveness from friends, family and others, and attempt to “mend” their relationships with God.
Now, it’s hard to imagine that in the United States you’d have to explain Christmas to a Jew.
Judaism is, of course, the first of the “great” Abrahamic religions, the other two being Christianity and Islam. But while Christianity has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of the number of adherents, Judaism has remained a relatively small religion numerically. The number of adherents is something like
If you see that represented graphically, you can see what a tiny slice of the Abrahamic pie Jews actually make up.
Part of the reason is this:
- Christians amassed converts through prosletyzing and conquest.
- Muslims amassed converts mostly through conquest.
- Jews don’t proseltyze at all, and have done almost nothing in the way of conquest.
Maybe if they promised people eternal salvation and disseminated the gospel “good news” about how others could also become part of God’s chosen people, Jews would find more adherents.
Although I don’t think that’s actually what the Jewish people are looking for.
So Christians of America, if you want to know what it feels like to actually be a minority in your own country, just ask a Jew.