Judaism and Hinduism are two religions that have impacted their followers (Jews and Hindus) in many ways. They have affected the roles that both the Jews and the Hindus play in the modern world and have even impacted other cultures and religions. So you may think they have quite a bit in common, right? While they are quite similar, they are also very different in their spiritual beliefs, God/gods, and their religious practices.
The Jews and the Hindus were quite different in their spiritual beliefs. The Jews believe in one God, a Heaven, a Hell, angels, and demons. The afterlives will be covered more later on, but it is important to glance over real quickly now. The Hindus believe that there is a Heaven (called Nirvana), but they do not believe in a Hell. They, unlike the Jews who are monotheistic (they believe in one God), the Hindus are polytheistic, which means they believe in many different gods. They also believe in reincarnation, which will also be covered more in depth later.
The Jews, for most of their history, were monotheistic, meaning they worshipped only one God. Despite that, though, they did have times where they were polytheistic, meaning they served many gods, such as when they made an idol of a golden calf or when they worshipped the Babylonian god Baal. The Jews share similar beliefs with those of the Christian faith, believing that God is good and will give forgiveness to anyone who asks for it. The Hindus on the other hand have always been polytheistic. They worshiped gods and goddesses such as Brahma and Shiva. The Hindu gods are not considered as kind or loving as the Hebrew God, and will even be mean-spirited towards humans.
One of the biggest differences between the two of faiths is their belief in the afterlife. The Jews believe in a Heaven and a Hell. To get to Heaven, no works will get you there. The only way to get to Heaven is if you put your faith in God. If you do not put your faith in God, you will go to Hell when you die. The Hindus, on the other hand, believe that it is your works that get you to Nirvana. To them, you have to do good things such as helping others, as well as other qualifications such as bathing in the sacred river, and you will go to Nirvana. If you are not good enough you will not go to a Hell like place, but instead be reincarnated into a new body. Reincarnation can come in many forms depending upon your level of goodness. They believe you will be reincarnated as an animal, another person, or, in some branches of Hinduism, even a god or goddess.
The religious practices of these two groups are quite different, just like a lot of things between the two religions. The Jews go to synagogue every Sabbath day (Sabbath last from every Friday night until the same time the next day), and have set holidays that are very important to them. Passover is a very important celebration. The first Passover was while they were still captives in Egypt, God sent the Angel of Death down to kill every first born male in Egypt as the final plague on the land. God allowed the Angel of Death to pass over the homes of the Hebrews who put the blood of a lamb over their doorway. Hanukkah is another important day in Jewish religion. It is the celebration of when they were rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem. They only had a little bit of oil left to light the candle, but it miraculously lasted a full eight days until they got more oil for the candle. The Hindus also have quite a few religious practices. Meditation is very important to them, especially in other branches of Hinduism such as Buddaism. They also have many important days in their religion such as Diwali, the Festival of Lights, which is celebrated for five days, and either falls in October or November, depending on the new moon.
The Jews and Hindus both have strong beliefs in ethics. Both are mostly against war, but are ok with it if it is either absolutely necessary, or they join it out of self-defense. The Jews take it one step further and believe war is ok if God commands them to fight in war, but it is wrong if they join it just to fight. Another thing they both agree on is that animal cruelty and abortion are both wrong, believing that abortion is only ok if the mother is about to die, and even at that they are still hesitant to do it. The Jews are against animal cruelty because they believe that doing so would harm God’s creation. The Hindus, on the other hand are against animal cruelty because they believe in reincarnation, believing that killing and eating animals would be hurting their ancestors. Despite being against animal cruelty, the Jews are not against eating meat of clean animals that God has allowed for them to eat, such as cattle and sheep. Pigs are an example of unclean animals therefore eating them is against their faith. Both Jews and Hindus are against capital punishment. They believe in a mostly nonviolent civilization, as well as the Jews going as far as to completely get rid of the death penalty, believing that the Book of Exodus says, “…life for a life, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth…”(Exodus 21:23-24).