Judaism is a religion rich with history and tradition. It centers more on the right way to live for God than in a belief/faith of him. They are God’s chosen people, whom he made covenant with and dwelt among. God gifted the Jews with the Torah, handed down through Moses, to instruct them on how to be in right relationship with God. They are favored by God when they keep covenant fidelity and allowed to suffer when they don’t. They are a people who know what it means to suffer. Throughout their history they have faced slavery, conquest, exile, persecution, and attempts at extinction. The world has done everything it can to destroy God’s chosen people. Yet, through everything God remembers the covenant he made with the tribes of Israel and favors them to this day.
Judaism and Christianity have shared roots in Israel. The waters of our faiths flow from the same source through different branches. Jews are Israel by heritage, Christians through adoption. Many modern Christians have put the emphasis on the faith/belief in Jesus over the instruction on how to have a right relationship with him. Catholicism combines much of the richness and tradition of the Jewish religion with our faith in Jesus. We are a people of the temple who still offer sacrifice. We have our official prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. We believe the Christian Scriptures are the fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures just as we believe that Jesus is the living fulfillment of the Torah. One does not abrogate the other, it is fulfilled by it and therefore both are necessary. A fulfillment of something that is unimportant is an unimportant fulfillment. Jesus is important to us therefore the Law has to be important to us. How we understand the Law is what has changed.
Christianity did not abrogate Judaism. It did not end the covenant God made with Israel. For me, if Catholicism did not have Jesus Judaism would be the only other possible choice as a religion. We believe that they are the only people God chose for his own and made an everlasting covenant with.
Knowing your history is essential in understanding your identity today. We should not look at Judaism as an “outside” religion but more as a brother with whom we have a shared history.
B'Shalom - In peace