Keeping the Faith
Is Judaism an ethnicity, a culture, or a religion? Yes, yes, and yes.
As an ethnic group, Jews embrace identities based on shared origins and traditions, much like some Americans describe themselves as Asians or Latinos. They feel part of a global community, endangered in Nazi Europe, Ethiopia, and the Soviet Union and ascendant in Israel. Some Jews point first to cultural markers to explain their identity. Drawing on Yiddish, they tackle life with chutzpah, schlep across town, and kibbitz with friends. Others feel most Jewish when munching on bagels and lox or savoring chicken soup with matzoh balls.
For many, though, Jewish identity begins with worship. Even small communities in North Carolina founded synagogues. In these houses of worship, Jews, led by a rabbi, chant ancient prayers, read the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament), and recite ritual blessings that mark the Sabbath, the day of rest that begins Friday night and ends Saturday at sundown. Congregation members come to their synagogues to study, reflect, socialize, and educate their children in the living tradition that is Judaism.
Explore the Exhibit
Click the images to the right or the Star of David to learn more about the artifacts and posters in the images.