Since the first era of the social sciences with Ibn Khaldun in the 14th century, culture was a central topic because it involves the study of groups of people. As defined by Hofstede G., “It is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another. It is what makes a human being belong to a group” (Hofstede 7). According to an article published by the University of Washington, babies begin to learn language while in the womb. They listen to what their mothers say in order to build a linguistic system which determines their mother tongue after birth. In addition, they start learning the other aspects of their parent’s culture starting their first hours in life. They begin the adventure of discovering what is around them by observing how people behave. By observing, they start to build their own experiences based on what their parents tell them, what they see in their families, and what they observe in the global environment. So, human beings are what they learned from what is around them. One of the important aspect that varies from a culture to another is accepting the other. The other in this case may mean a person, a group, or a culture that is different than yours.
In this interview, I compared how the Islamic culture differs from the Jewish one. I took some aspects such as dress code, marriage, and way of life which can be of a different religion, gender or ethnicity. And I asked a Jewish person about how she sees them. I wanted to experience the cultural relativism which is how people react towards a different environment and based on what they judge them to be superior or inferior than their own culture. On the other hand, I wanted to test my abilities to deal with a person who is literally different than me in ethnicity, religion, and gender. In addition to that, I wanted to discover a culture that is transmitted to us as a monster that we should not talk with or about. Even if they are a part of the Moroccan culture for a long period ago.
First, dress code in the Jewish culture has some strict aspects. For instance, it is prohibited to wear a garment that consists of wool and linen. In addition, it is prohibited for a man to wear a women’s garment and vice versa. However, the priests are the main dressing aspect that is discussed in details in the Torah because it represents a reminder to the Jew to stick to what is written in the Torah. I found an interesting fact about the dressing code in Jewish culture which reflects the religious identification, social status, and the emotional state. For instance, a married Jewish woman must cover her hair to show to outsiders that she is no longer single. In overall, there is a law that governs covering the body, but it is more strict with women than men. Another interesting fact is that women cannot wear pants because they are strictly prohibited. Instead, they can wear long skirts, but it is prohibited to wear tights even if the legs are seen. All these aspects depends on what Jewish group Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform the Jew belongs to. However, they are influenced now by the other culture. Globalization brought the change in Jewish culture by changing some traditional aspects in the dressing mode. For instance, women start wearing pants, which was prohibited in the traditional dress code. At this point, the dress code of the Islamic culture is stricter, but it does not reflect the personal or social status.
Second, marriage in the Jewish culture has some special conditions that surprised me when I compared them with the Islamic conditions. Jewish culture does not allow the intermarriages in any directions. This point led us to talk about both religious aspects. In Judaism, the mother is the central part of the family because if she is Jewish, her children will be Jews. So, if a Jew marries a woman from another religion, their children will not be necessary Jews. They might follow their mother’s religion. This fact explains why the intermarriage is not allowed. In addition, Judaism believes in the concept of soul mates which means that there exists another part of the Jew somewhere else with the same religion. Concerning the divorce, the man has the divorce a woman for any reason or no reason, but in the traditional Jewish law, the woman is not allowed to start a divorce process. In overall, it is considered an unfortunate necessity which is a common point between the Islamic and Jewish culture.
Finally, the ways of life differ from my culture and the Jewish culture in many levels. For instance, some Jewish groups think that they should not stay in one place for the lifetime because God sent them to be around the Earth. At this point, I discovered a new thing which is that some Jewish groups are against making Israel a state because building it contradicts about their mission that God assigned to them on Earth. In addition, I learned that the extremism has no religion because there are some extremist groups who represent Judaism and kill innocents everywhere. I tried to compare it with the extremist groups who represent Islam and kill innocents around the globe. And I found that these extremist group should not be linked to a religion because they represent themselves, not the religion.
To sum up, I learned new things by comparing my culture to the Jewish culture. First, the communication is the key. We should not have per-judgments before we really talk and interact with the other. Second, there are always good people and bad people in every religion, and we should not link the bad actions of people who think that they belong to a religion to the religion itself. We should make a difference between religion and people who believe in it. Finally, extremism is a mainly a problem of lack of communication and ability of accepting the difference.
Fishbane, Simcha. The Impact Of Culture And Cultures Upon Jewish Customs And Rituals : Collected Essays. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2016. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 17 Sept. 2016.
Hofstede, Geert. Cultures and Organizations: Software of the mind. New York: McGraw Hill, 1997.
Leaman, Oliver. Judaism : An Introduction. London: I.B.Tauris, 2011. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 17 Sept. 2016.
Li & Karakowsky. Do We See Eye-to-Eye? Implications of Cultural Differences for
Cross-Cultural Management Research and Practice. The Journal of Psychology 2001.
McElroy, Molly. “While in Womb, Babies Begin Learning Language from Their Mothers.” UWToday. University of Washington, 2 Jan. 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.
Image Copyright: Broken childhood, Mikayel Harutyunyan.