Daughters of Abraham includes participants of the three major religions that have their roots in Abraham. All three of the faiths began in the Middle-East. All were founded by a particular person whose life was committed to one God. All are ethical monotheisms. All have a sacred book; thus all three are often called “People of the Book.”
The earliest of the three religions is Judaism. Initially, it was the religion of a family that we now refer to as the patriarchs; Abraham, his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob. It became a larger religious community when the descendants of the Patriarchs found themselves captive to Egyptian slavery. At that time, Moses was told by God to lead the people out of slavery to a new land where they would live in covenant as God’s people. This event of God coming, working through Moses, and delivering the Hebrews became forever etched in their memory. They did not find God; God found them.
The form of this covenant (relationship) between God and the Jews was not just ritualistic but moral. The moral code was given to Moses at Mt. Sinai in the form of the Ten Commandments. Jewish faith was not just thoughts about God. It was an active behavioral calling to obey God. Obedience to God was manifested in observing certain ritualistic practices, but by far the most profound act of obedience to God was in acting justly toward neighbor. Not only God had a claim on a Hebrew’s life – so did his or her neighbor.
These Hebrews eventually established the nation, Israel; thus much of the Hebrew Bible centers around armies and battles. Israel, like all nations, experienced decline and finally defeat. But Judaism continued because it created two survival institutions: the Sabbath and the Synagogue. Because of this, Judaism, in spite of many attempts to destroy them, has prevailed. Jews continue today to witness to the One God who commands love of God and love of neighbor.
Like all religions, differences in beliefs and practices in Judaism have developed over time. Yet the single theme in all branches remains strong: that God, that One mysterious source of all, has come to us and invites us to walk humbly with God and to do justice to our neighbor.