Celebrating the Jewish Community in the Garden State

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In 2018, there were more than 530,000 Jewish people in the state of New Jersey. That number is expected to increase. The Garden State and many of the people living here are honoring the Jewish Community for their contribution in several sectors.

There are a number of Jewish organizations and groups in New Jersey and they are coming up with more ways to celebrate not only their religion but their people and others as well.

Most events are considered educational and conversive with people talking about the laws, theology, culture and lives of the Jewish people.

Dinner, Laws and History

Several Jewish organizations in New Jersey are holding private dinners to talk about the history of the Jews and Judaism in the country. People come and present their own stories of struggle and triumph.

Others talk about the lives of the people from the past and how they faced and conquered discrimination and racism.

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One good example is an event the Jewish Federation wherein a rotating exhibit showcasing old and iconic dinnerware from different families today and in the past. This idea is also done in literature as more and more authors are producing novels and articles narrating the different aspects of the lives of the Jewish Community.

These events are also opportunities for people to discuss ancient laws that have been passed down from one generation to another. In New Jersey, some of these dinners invite Rabbis to talk about Judaism’s take on gambling and dog betting.

Nowadays, not all Jewish people are not fully familiar with their laws, therefore they don’t observe it. For example, dog betting or any kind of gambling is not only frowned upon but is actually considered an immoral act in Judaism.

Jewish Games for all kids

There are a lot of traditional Jewish games and they’re not solely for Jewish kids alone, but for everyone. Kids of all religions are sure to have fun playing The Dreidel Game. Imagine them spinning the dreidel and conversing with each other.

This is also a learning opportunity to tell kids about the rich history of the Jews. Let’s take the Dreidel Game for example. This game is commonly played during the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.

Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil in ancient times. The story behind it talks about oil that was supposed to last only a couple of hours but lasted for eight days straight.

Important reminder, since it’s New Jersey, gambling as a celebration for Jews is not only frowned upon but their own religious text does not agree with gambling.

Jewish Books: Laws and Lives

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Books inspired by the laws and lives of the Jewish people are truly something. Are you familiar with Philip Roth? A Jewish Pulitzer Prize recipient from New Jersey? He wrote the struggles and misadventures of the Jews in the past.

Speaking of New Jersey, many of the novels written about Jews originated from this state. If you are interested in learning more about the Jews, here are some great reads for you.

Talmud

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Talmud is Judaism’s religious text containing the religion’s laws and theological teachings. It is a comprehensive text that dates back toancient times. The scripture has been written in different versions and titles, but the content did not change.

One section in the Talmud we recommend your read right now is their take on gambling and betting. There are no written rules that Jews are not allowed to gamble but Judaism is not a big fan of the activity.

Any form of gambling and betting is considered risky and evil. For example, betting on dog racetracks. Despite their scripture describing dogs as ill-tempered and that they can’t be trusted, Judaism is not in favor of dog or greyhound racetracks.

According to some Jews, dog or greyhound racing is animal cruelty and to add the element of betting is beyond evil. Some Jewish organizations are encouraging people to shun dog racing and betting completely.

They argue their position suggesting that greyhounds, (main participants in dog racing) are docile and that they are actually forced to race.

The Jews of New Jersey: A Pictorial History – Patricia Ard

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This book by Patricia Ard paid tribute to the Jewish community who has been calling New Jersey home since the seventeenth century. The book is a collection of stories of Jewish people who witnessed the transformation of the Jews in the state for many years.

The book sheds light to insightful and touching stories of factory workers, farmers, activists, Holocaust survivors, children and more throughout history. The book narrates the joy, the struggle and the pain of being a Jew in the Garden State.

This book was published on November 15, 2001, and it was followed by a number of novels and other reading materials years after to continue telling the story of the Jews.

Goodbye, Columbus – Philip Roth

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Philip Roth as mentioned above is a renowned author back in the 1990s and his work resulted in a Pulitzer Prize back in 1997 for “Operation Shylock,” “The Human Stain” and “Everyman.”

“Goodbye, Columbus” is actually a compilation of five short stories that talks about middle-class Jewish-Americans. The five stories are “The Conversion of the Jews,” “Defender of the Faith,” “Epstein,” “You can’t tell a man by the song he sings,” and “Eli, the Fanatic.”

Each story talks about the struggle of the Jewish community as they tried to co-exist with other races and communities.

The book received both good reviews, bad reviews and even controversies. Some critics were not happy how the book satirized Jews’ materialism and complacency. However, the book touched other themes such as drama too.

There are dozens of books telling not just stories but milestones and culture transformation about the Jewish community. There are also books narrating the lives of Jewish people today and how they embraced modern technology and the status of politics.