All groups in the United States, whether ethnic or religious, face and overcome adversity because of the diversity they bring to our melting pot. Orthodox Judaism is a very diverse religion with strict beliefs and rituals, and adds strong cultural roots to the United States. The Hispanic population is also very distinct, and has endured racial discrimination throughout history. The experiences of these two groups have only added to their diversity, and have made them stronger because of the hardships they both have had to endure.
Orthodox Judaism differs from other religious groups dramatically. Like other religions, Orthodox Jews are very strict when it comes to their religious beliefs and worship practices, but they are still very diverse when it comes to their core beliefs and rituals. According to “Orthodox Jews” (2010), “they go to the synagogue three times a day, wear skullcaps (Yarmulkeh or Kipah in Hebrew) at all times, only eat kosher foods, and are very ritualistic when it comes to observing holidays and important events”.
They believe in one God, and they believe that they are His chosen people. Unlike Christianity, Orthodox Jews believe that Jesus is not the Messiah, but that Moses is the most important prophet because God spoke to him on Mt. Siani and because Moses interceded for the chosen ones. They do not believe that the Messiah has come yet, therefore they do not believe in the redemption of sins through death on the cross. They believe that you get into Heaven based on earthly deeds compared to sins, whereas other religions have different views on this. They have strong family values and live together in communities such as Jerusalem, Israel and Brooklyn, NY.
Likewise, Hispanics differ from other racial/ethnic groups in various ways. They encompass more than twenty different nationalities, and speak many different types of Spanish dialects (“Hispanic Research Inc.” 2009). Also, unlike many other racial/ethnic groups, they have strong family values and their households usually consist of five or more family members including extended family.
They take pride in their appearance, usually dressing up in special attire and footwear for events while enjoying and dancing to vibrant music. Furthermore, a large percentage of Hispanics are Roman Catholic, and come from Spanish and Indian heritage. Additionally, they have a wonderful array of diverse dishes with a wide range of tastes that will satisfy any craving. I feel that they are unlike any other culture in the world, and they add plenty to our country’s melting pot.
The experience of Orthodox Jewish individuals with others who do not share its beliefs or practices has been hard for them. Many people of different religions sometimes question the Jewish belief system and pick on them for wearing funny hats and clothes. On the other hand, many people from other religions feel that Jews look down upon others because they feel that they are God’s chosen people, therefore others are beneath them, and however this is not their belief system. Christians believe that even though the Jewish population is God’s chosen people, that in fact, they will go to hell for lack of belief in Jesus Christ. The most controversy, however, is with other Judaism belief systems such as with Conservative or Reform Jews.
Similarly, Hispanics have faced hardships with other groups that disagree with their acceptance to our nation. People tend to believe that Hispanics should not be in America because a lot of them come here illegally, but there are many Hispanic individuals who were born here and have every right to be here. Their way of life is not accepted and they are treated unfairly by law enforcement, majority groups, and minority groups. In fact, “FBI statistics show a dramatic increase in anti-Hispanic hate crimes. And sadly, hate groups are increasing due to anti-illegal immigration concerns” (Gibson, 2009).
Furthermore, Orthodox Judaism has contributed to American culture in more ways than one. “Considering that the Jewish people constitute a mere one half of one percent of the world’s population, Jewish contribution to religion, science, literature, music, medicine, finance, philosophy, entertainment etc., is staggering” (Goriss, 2013). Just to name a few, in the field of medicine alone, it was Jewish doctors who discovered insulin, created the polio vaccine, and identified the first cancer virus, and it is safe to say that all of these advances had a major effect on American culture. Perhaps the most important impact that the Jewish people have had on American culture is that America was discovered by Christopher Columbus, who was Jewish.
Additionally, other famous Jews include Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Levi Strauss, and Adam Sandler (Goriss, 2013). It is safe to say that Orthodox Judaism has had such major contributions because it is part of their practices to teach their children to be world role models who grow up to be doctors, lawyers, scientists, etc.
Additionally, like with Orthodox Judaism, Hispanics have had a major impact on American culture, however, you do not read much about it in history books. Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas under the “auspices of the Spanish crown” (Padilla, 2012). We hear of famous expeditions of the continent by Lewis and Clark and Daniel Boone, but we don’t hear about the Spanish explorers like Hernando De Soto or Francisco Vasquez de Coronado.
Also, we as American’s do not recognize the fact that the Spanish king Carlos contributed a large sum of money to assist the American colonists. Hispanics have also been quick to defend the United States in wars and battles throughout history. Furthermore, they brought the cattle industry to the United States, and many different types of plants, fruits, and vegetables. They have contributed through art, fine cuisine, music, literature, science, and space exploration; however, it is sad that our country does not give these fine men and women credit where it is deserved.
During the Holocaust, Orthodox Jews experienced prejudice and discrimination at the hands of the Nazi part and Adolph Hitler. During World War II, approximately six million Jews were exterminated in death camps and ghettos. Subsequently, this is when the “United States opened their doors to Jewish refugees, allowing approximately 27,300 Jews to enter the U.S., but this quota was quickly met and many Jews had nowhere to flee” (The Jewish Federations of North America, Inc. 2013).
Once Jewish settlers entered America, they faced more hardships but none near as harsh as what they dealt with in Germany. They were generally accepted by Americans, however, other minority groups showed resistance to them such as with the Crown Heights Riots of 1991, when African-Americans lashed out against the Jewish people because of a car accident that killed a Guyanese boy.
Likewise, Hispanics have faced prejudice and discrimination in the United States, but in a different way. They are usually accepted by other minority groups; however, Hispanics are discriminated against by majority groups, political groups, and law enforcement agents. The website (Dosomething.org) states that “thirty percent of Hispanics in the U.S. lack health coverage, twenty-two percent of Hispanic workers reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace, and that Hispanics are the most discriminated against when it comes to housing in the United States” (2013). Furthermore, law enforcement officers are known to search Hispanics more than other individuals because they are stereotyped to be gun carrying drug dealers.
The completion of the U.S. Mexico border fence was completed in 2009, which only gives more proof of the United States resistance to the Hispanic race.
Consequently, what I have learned about the Orthodox Judaism religion and the Hispanic ethnic group has had an impact on the way I look and understand both groups. I have learned the core beliefs, values, and rituals of the Orthodox Jews and this was thought provoking. Also, I have learned that the Hispanic race made many contributions to the United States, and that I should raise awareness about this fact. Both of these groups have faced hardships, and continue to face these hardships in recent history and today, although Hispanics face more discrimination than Orthodox Jews. Furthermore, through comprehension of the facts, I wish to learn more about both of these groups.
In conclusion, the information I gathered while researching the diversity of religions and ethnic groups was informative and thought provoking. These groups were similar in the fact that they both have faced hardships and discrimination throughout history. However, the type of hardships and discrimination were different and came from different sources. From this comparison, I can conclude that prejudice and discrimination is not a discerner of groups. All individuals face prejudice and discrimination in their own unique way.
References (2012). A Concise Companion to Jewish Religion [University of Phoenix Custom Edition eBook]. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved from University of Phoenix, website Dosomething.org. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.dosomething.org Gibson, R. S. (2009). Global Legal Resources. Retrieved from http://www.hg.org Goriss, L. (2013). Jewish Contributions to Society. www.about.com Hispanic Research Inc.. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.hispanicresearch.com Orthodox Jews. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.orthodox-jews.com Padilla, E. (2012). Hispanic Achievements Foundation, Inc.. Retrieved from http://www.hispaniccontributions.org The Jewish Federations of North America, Inc.. (2013). . Retrieved from http://www.holocaustcenterpgh.org