can be found in the sacred texts, is noticeably lacking in many Holocaust education materials. To teach the Holocaust without addressing the question of “what does it mean to be a Jew?” is to de-Judaize the study of the Holocaust and to risk misunderstanding and misrepresenting this topic. HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE 82 What Does It Mean To Be a Jew? The word “Jew” in Hebrew is yehudi (pl., yehudim) and is derived from the Hebrew name of the Patriarch Jacob’s fourth son Yehudah, in English, Judah. 3 Jews are called after Yehudah, the tribe from which the bloodline of Jewish kings originates. 4 After the twelve sons/tribes had been born to Jacob, this single Jewish family unit, upon redemption from slavery in Egypt and the acceptance of the Sinaitic Covenant, became a nation. 5 Having accepted God’s Law, the Torah, at Sinai, “their task, as they later came to understand it, was to observe the 613 commandments [in order to] bring nearer the redemption of the world” (Bauer, 2001, p. 17). For Jews, “strict and uncompromising monotheism . . . became basic to the Jews’ understanding of themselves and the world. God, without shape or form rules a universe created by Him absolutely” (Bauer, 2001, p. 16). Known by the acronym TaNaKh, texts in the Written Law include a total of 24 sacred texts comprising the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), the Prophets, and the Writings. The Oral Law, which includes explanations of the Written Law, includes (1) the Mishnah, which was codified 6 in 200 CE 7 and (2) the Gemara which was 3 Genesis 29:35 4 Genesis 49:10 5 Exodus 12:41 6 Codified refers to the notion that the texts were written down. They had been transmitted orally prior to this, hence they were known as the Oral Law. This term also means that no further additions to could be made to the Mishnah or Gemara once they had been codified, or become part of the code of Jewish texts. Today, there are still explanations and commentaries written by modern rabbis and Jewish thinkers, but they are not—and cannot—be codified as part of the Oral Law of the Mishnah and Gemara. 7 C.E. refers to Common Era; Jews do not use B.C. or A.D. because they refer to the life and death of Jesus. B.C. is used to date events that occurred before the birth of Jesus, the “C” stands for “Christ.” A.D. is the abbreviations for anno Domini (Latin for “in the year of our Lord”) and is used to date events that occurred after the birth of Jesus. Jews do not consider Jesus to be the Lord and instead use B.C.E. which stands for Before the Common Era, to date events before the birth of Jesus, and C.E. which stands for Common Era, to date events after the birth of Jesus.
Judaism’s Sacred Texts In Judaism, there are two categories of sacred texts: 83 HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE Khetuvium or Writings