All Jews are united by a common history of written texts. Although different Jews may interpret these texts with different emphases, we all share these documented stories, insights, discussions and debates. Our Jewish texts include:
TaNaKH [Torah/Nevi'im [Prophets]/Ketuvim (Writings]), i.e. the Bible:
The early stories of our Jewish text tradition range over many centuries and make up Hebrew scripture, also known as the Hebrew Bible. These narratives provide us with a common "vocabulary" with which we can dialogue about things of deep meaning with other Jews. The flawed characters and human scenarios documented in our scripture provide us with a way to converse with our peers about the difficulties life presents us and enable us to connect with the ways that our ancestors struggled with these same dilemmas.
More relevant and helpful than the oft-asked question: "Are these stories historically true?" are the questions: "To what human truths do these stories point and relate?" and "How do these figures and their dilemmas help us think more deeply about the human condition and contemporary problems, struggles and quandaries?"
Rabbinic Texts: Starting over two thousand years ago, Jewish teachers came together to discuss how Torah and other biblical text could be brought into their own contemporary era in a relevant way. This tradition of rabbinic debates and discussions - much of the material compiled into Talmud and collections of Midrash - continues to spur generations of Jews to think creatively about our tradition's teachings and apply ancient wisdom to modern situations.