As a religion with relatively few local participants it is not surprising that many lack an understanding about the nature of Judaism. The usual discussions center on the things that we don’t believe rather than about what we do believe.
We are optimists. We believe in the essential goodness of mankind and that we can each be better and grow as human beings. We do not claim to know about what exists for us after death. We cannot know and it is not productive to spend a lot of energy worrying about the nature of what we refer to as the World to Come. We do, however, believe that God’s world is just and that we will be judged by how we have lived our lives. Judaism claims no exclusivity to those future rewards, rather we hold that the righteous of all nations will have a place in the world to come.
Our religion, the common link we share, has held Jewish people together through all the centuries. It is the way we look at the world, at God, at ourselves, the means by which we determine right and wrong, and how we should conduct ourselves. The Jewish approach to these questions has worked for thousands of years with surprisingly little change.
We have all been given free will. Judaism rejects the notion of Original Sin. We each make our own decisions and choose between alternatives, both good and evil, and then experience the consequences of those decisions. We are told to care for the widows and orphans, the poor and the sick, but how we choose to exercise those responsibilities is for each of us to decide. The responsibilities are given in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Scholars have discussed and debated the details in other books and the religion has evolved from Temple days of antiquity, but only in the details. The central theme has not changed. We are to hold up our part of the Covenant agreed at Sinai and to do what God has told us to do. The short answer is found in Micah 6:8 where we read “…to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Only then will God hold up His part of the Covenant.
At our weekly Thursday night Bible study sessions, we learn about the successes and failures of the ancients to obey God’s law. As we try to understand what is expected of us we learn as much from the failures as from the successes.
Our synagogue is located at the northeast corner of Fifth and Daviess Streets.
All are welcome to participate in an atmosphere of mutual respect.