Being brought up in a Christian family and attending a Christian school, I learned a lot about Christian virtues, values, and traditions. However, as I grew up, I started hearing more and more about other religious groups and denominations. Recently, I was engaged in a conversation about the Jewish and Amish way of life, which sparked my curiosity about these beliefs. So, today I will be delving into the two religions, Amish vs. Jewish; how exactly do they compare?
The Amish and Jewish have different origins and beliefs, such as traditions, celebrations, practices, and living standards. The Amish are mostly known for their simple living and unwillingness to adopt modern technology, while the Jewish are mostly known for rejecting Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
In this article, I invite you to join me as I analyze the similarities and main differences between the two. I will also be looking into their most common traditions in detail. Read on to find out more.
Amish vs. Jewish: Difference in definition
Jewish refers to an ethnoreligious group that originated from ancient Israel and Hebrew. The Jewish refers to three groups of people; those with Jewish lineage or ancestral background, those born to a Jewish family, and those with no Jewish family background but have been converted to Judaism formally.
On the other hand, Amish refers to a group of traditional Anabaptists of Swiss and Alsatian origin who were originally led by Jakob Amman. The Amish membership is made official when one gets baptized within the church.
Difference between Amish and Jewish
Parameters of comparison.
The Amish church was formed in 1693 and led by Jakob Amman.
The Jewish group originated from Israelites and Hebrews and was formed around 2000 B.C.
Amish people mainly use Pennsylvania Dutch.
Jewish people use the Hebrew language to communicate.
The sacred text for the Amish is The Bible, mainly the King James Version for English or the German Martin Luther Bible version.
The Jewish people follow the Torah, which consists of the first five books of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible)
Perspective on afterlife
The Amish people do not have a common outlook on the afterlife and believe that one goes to heaven or hell depending on their actions.
The Jewish people do not have a common thought on the afterlife and believe that the world will be altered to its original state.
Celebrations and practices
Amish people celebrate Christmas, remembering Jesus Christ’s birth.
The Jewish celebrate Hanukkah to commemorate the rededication of the second temple of Jerusalem.
Belief in Jesus Christ
Like Christians, the Amish believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah and son of God who died for our sins and is the way to salvation.
The Jews believe that Jesus Christ existed but reject Him as the Messiah because they think He failed to destroy evil and establish an eternal kingdom as they expected their Messiah to do.
Place of worship.
The Amish do not have a specific place where they hold their services and prayers. They typically hold services in each other’s private homes on alternating Sundays.
The Jewish services take place in synagogues which are places designated for prayer. Their Shabbat is usually observed from Friday evening until Saturday, an hour before sundown.
Amish groups have a small number of followers due to their closed population.
Jewish groups have a large number of followers who have played a role in many modernity developments.
Similarities between Amish and Jewish
The Amish and Jewish share few similarities. One of them is that they are both minor religious groups that have been subjected to persecution and pogrom.
They both believe in God as a divine creator with whom they can have a personal relationship. Moreover, they are both known for certain customs and beliefs that set them apart from others and follow Old Testament laws.
Additionally, they both have a conservative dress code and are required to cover their knees by wearing long trousers or skirts and cover their heads throughout.
What are Amish traditions?
Some of the most common Amish traditions are listed below;
In the Amish religious calendar, communion services are one of the most important events. The services occur twice a year, usually during the fall and spring. In preparation, the Amish hold an Ordnung church service two weeks before the communion service. During this service, the bishop goes over some rules, and the congregants are each expected to renew their commitments to uphold them.
The communion services are conducted in German and have a lot of visiting ministers from other churches who may preach the morning messages. The morning service typically lasts three hours, after which people are dismissed for lunch. After lunch, German hymns are sung, and sermons are given; then, the communion elements of bread and wine are partaken in memory of Jesus’ sacrifice. After partaking, the congregants wash each other’s feet to symbolize humility and service.
Pentecost is usually celebrated fifty days after Easter Sunday and commemorates the day the Holy Spirit appeared to the Apostles of Christ. It usually falls on a Sunday; hence the Monday after is a public holiday and is known as Pentecost Monday.
The Amish usually take this day off to relax or have a church picnic.
This is the transition from adolescence to adulthood and starts at about age sixteen and ends when a youth gets married or chooses to get baptized in the Amish church or leaves the community.
The prime activities that take place include socializing with peers, dating, and deciding on whether they will leave the community or join the church. They can make this decision since most of the youth are not baptized during Rumspringa.
What are Jewish traditions?
Below are some of the most common Jewish traditions;
Brit Milah/ bris
This is the ceremony during which circumcision is performed on a Jewish baby boy and is usually done eight days after his birth.
Traditionally, the child is taken from the mother by the godmother and handed over to the godfather, who hands the child to the mohel. The mohel then places the baby on the Chair of Elijah for a moment and then places him on the knees of the sandak (holder). The mohel then recites some blessings then performs the circumcision in three steps; the cutting of the foreskin, which is known as milah; removal of the membrane covering the head of the penis (p’riah); and m’tzitzah or suction, which involves sucking of blood from the wound. Immediately after the procedure, the father recites some blessings. The baby is named over a goblet of wine, and some drops are placed on the baby’s lips concluding the traditional ceremony.
Bar Mitzvah/ Bat Mitzvah
For Jews, coming of age happens automatically at thirteen for a girl and twelve for a boy. This is termed Bar Mitzvah for boys and bat mitzvah for girls. At these ages, the boy or girl is obligated to observe the commandments of the Torah, and the Bar/Bat mitzvah ceremony officially symbolizes this obligation.
The celebration is done during the Shabbat closest to the child’s 13th birthday. During the ceremony, the celebrant is called up to read from the Torah. This is known as Aliyah. In some congregations, the celebrant leads part of the service and may be required to make a speech. The father then says a prayer thanking God for removing the burden of the responsibility of the son’s sins.
Funeral and mourning practices
Traditionally, burials are supposed to take place as soon as possible. The service consists of an opening prayer, eulogy, and scripture readings. Open caskets are not accepted; hence there is no viewing of the body during the service.
The initial mourning period is known as Shiva and lasts for seven days after the funeral. During this period, the bereaved family is supposed to stay home and receive visitors. They are to recite Kaddish (A special mourner’s prayer) together.
Are Amish people Jewish?
No, Amish people are not Jewish. The Amish are a denomination of protestant Christians as they have some similar beliefs, such as acknowledging Jesus Christ as the Messiah, which the Jewish people do not believe.
Moreover, the Amish and Jewish have different beliefs. The Amish believe in separating themselves from the world. They emphasize on this tradition by emphasizing the passages from Romans 12:2, that encourages Christians not to conform to worldly standards, and James 4:4, which implies that being friendly to the world equates to being God’s enemy. The Jews do not believe in this practise and cannot adhere to these scriptures as they do not have the New Testament.
What do Jewish people think about Amish?
We do not know exactly how the Jews view the Amish. However, since most Jews think of Christians as having an uncertain view of the Torah, we assume they think the same about the Amish as the Christians and Amish have the most similar beliefs.
Additionally, the Jewish people think that the Amish are wrong for acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah as He did not manifest their qualifications of Messiah, such as being a prophet.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.