The Dutch didn't start the slave trade. It was flourishing for millennia in other parts of the world. Refraining from work on Saturdays was the original version of your nice, fun-filled weekends, bland life notwithstanding. Who knows if weekends would even exist today without this particular strict rule. The rule, however, includes being fruitful and multiply on Saturdays, which is less bland, me thinks. Yes, Judaism imposes some very strict rules, but religious Jews have the uncanny habit of finding ways to go around these rules. I couldn't live like that, of course, as I grew up in a completely secular environment, but I'm in awe at their ingenuity and determination to make Judaism work even in the most difficult circumstances. Yes, this is a classic mistake: judging ultra-Orthodox Jews by their appearance. Jews in the Christian world have been marginalized and pushed into ghettos and isolated neighborhoods, even in special Jewish towns in some places (Pale of Settlement in tzarist Russia) since the 16th century (the Venetian ghetto). The law in most of Europe didn't allow them to wear colorful clothes, only black and white.The very religious tend to be very conservative as well, resistant to change, and that's why ultra-Orthodox Jews live today in isolated neighborhoods, and wear black suits with white shirts.This is how they lived for centuries. The symbols of oppression turned into tradition. Judaism has nothing to do with it, it doesn't mandate either isolationism, or dress codes. Sideburns are mandated for males, but their length is up to the individual. Trimming them would not break the Law, but shaving them would, so many, though not all, ultra-Orthodox just let them grow to be on the safe side. I don't know about a small group of priests in Babylon, do you have a source? Practicing Jews believe that human beings have to behave in a certain way, and respect certain rules, in order to help God maintain the integrity of the material world. There are 613 such rules for Jews (this is the meaning of "chosen people" - chosen to strictly follow all of God's commands), and 7 for non-Jews. It doesn't really matter to Jews what Christians, or others, believe, as long as they follow the 7 laws of Noah. Not being "your story" doesn't make that story less worthy, or inferior, or despicable. It's just not your story, the end. Islam and Christianity shouldn't be my story, but I wouldn't dare even think, let alone write on public forums, that their followers are less worthy because they're different. Human history, human cultures, human traditions, human religions, human civilizations, are all my story, because I'm human.