Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Judaism 101

In week 2 we will be discussing the basics of Jewish faith and culture, an how this influences how religious Jews may view and use mass media. A couple of helpful websites providing an introduction to Judaism include Judaism 101 and the Orthodox Union's basis guide to Judaism.

Our guest speaker will be Professor Jim Aune who specializes in rhetoric and politics and has written our weekly reading: Jim Aune, 2004. Justice and argument in Judaism: A d’var torah on shofetim, in Rhetoric & Public Affairs, 7(4), pp. 449-460. Consider: What does this article tell us about Jewish approaches to different forms of media (especially texts)?
BTW--Professor Aune also recommends Jewcy a web site focused on contemporay Jewish culture.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

In this article, the author presents that interpretive debate is central to the Jewish understanding of justice: that justice is to be reached through a study of God’s word, a formation of various interpretations, and finally a communal debate. The author examines the current use of religion and religious texts in the political debate in America, suggesting faults in the current religious rhetoric and solutions to these shortcomings that can be found in the use of Jewish rhetoric. To accomplish this two-fold purpose, the author explains how the Southern Baptist Convention’s argument in support of the death penalty is incomplete in its use of Jewish law and is thus faulty. The Jewish faith encourages differing and even opposing interpretations of laws and considers dialogue and debate essential, an impossibility with arguments such as the SBC’s. This emphasis on interpretation and debate stems from the Jewish view of religion and worship itself: that worship includes studying God’s laws, seeking justice, and an earnest desire to uncover the truth by valuing all individuals’ input.
The article did not really mention the Jewish view on media, but I speculate that the love of debate and dialogue may lend to an appreciation of media sources that feature different and even opposing view points. The Jewish faith obviously values knowledge and the use of one’s intellect so I would surmise that political knowledge is valued and thus the source of this knowledge (i.e. media) is important.