Judaism

A World Religion

Primary Beliefs and God(s)

God exists, is incorporeal, is eternal, and is one and unique. Prayer is to be directed to God alone and to no other. The words of the prophets are true and Moses was the greatest of the prophets. The Written Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) and Oral Torah (teachings now contained in the Talmud and other writings) were given to Moses, and there will be no other Torah. God knows the thoughts and deeds of men and will reward the good and punish the wicked. The Messiah will come and the dead will be resurrected.

Sacred Texts

Tanakh (acronym of 3 books) - the Pentateuch (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi'im) and the Writings (Ketuvim).


Practices

Halakah (The rabbinical portion of halakhah falls into three groups: a gezeirah, takkanah, and minhag.), Mitzvot, Kashnut (eating only Kosher foods), Prayer, Worship. Saturday is the Day of Worship (The Sabbath). A kipa, or yarmulke, is a small dish-shaped cap worn by male Jews to fulfil a requirement, stated in the Talmud, that their head should be covered at all times.
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Important Dates/Holidays/Rituals and Celebrations

Holidays: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Pesach (Passover), Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, Chanukkah (Hanukkah), Tu B’Shevat, Purim, Lag B’Omer, Shavu’ot, Tisha B’Av.

Important Dates: 2500 BC (Founded).

Rituals and Celebrations: At the age of 13, Jewish children become responsible for their own action, and usually hold a ceremony to commemorate their rite of passage from childhood into adulthood, when they become bar mitzvah (for boys) or bat mitzvah (for girls). 8 days after a baby is born, a ceremony is held, call the Brit Milah where the baby's placed in Elija's chair. Elija is the protector of all children.

Location/Dates of Origin/Historic Events

Judaism began as the beliefs and practices of the people known as “Israel,” but classical, or rabbinic, Judaism did not emerge until the 1st century C.E.


Judaism traces its heritage to the covenant God made with Abraham and his lineage — that God would make them a sacred people and give them a holy land. Judaism traces its history back to the creation of mankind, but the explicitly Jewish historical origins begin with Abraham and the Hebrews. According to the Torah, Abraham's home was the northern Mesopotamian town of Harran. Under God's command, Abraham migrated to the region of Canaan, which is roughly equivalent to modern Israel and Lebanon. For a time the Hebrews lived in servitude in Egypt, then returned to Canaan. After a time of monarchy, the Jewish people were exiled for approximately two generations, before a relatively small number returned to the land of Israel.


The Jewish people endured much from different kingdoms of the Christian West, but it was nothing compared to what they went through during the time of the Crusades. The crusade was simply an excuse for the extreme greed, and this greed sacrificed the lives of many peaceful Jews. The Jews, who were driven out of England in 1290, out of France in 1394, and out of numerous districts of Germany, Italy, and the Balkan peninsula between 1350 and 1450, were scattered in all directions, and fled preferably to the new Slavic kingdoms, where for the time being other confessions were still tolerated.



In many cities throughout Europe, Jews had been living in concentrated areas. During the first years of World War II, the Nazis formalized the borders of these areas and restricted movement, creating modern ghettos to which Jews were confined. The ghettos were, in effect, prisons in which many Jews died from hunger and disease; others were executed by the Nazis and their collaborators. Concentration camps for Jews existed in Germany itself. In December 1941, Hitler finally decided to exterminate European Jews. In January 1942, during the Wannsee conference, several Nazi leaders discussed the details of the "Final Solution of the Jewish question". They began to systematically deport Jewish populations from the ghettos and all occupied territories to the seven camps designated as Vernichtungslager, or extermination camps: Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Maly Trostenets, Sobibór and Treblinka II. The sudden rapid growth of Zionism and the post-Holocaust displacement resulted in the emigration of a great many Jews to what became the modern State of Israel soon after.

Afterlife

The views of many Jews varies. Some beliefs are Gan Eden, Gehinnom, nonexistence, or reincarnation. (What happens in the afterlife does not concern most Jews). Gan Eden - Heaven, Genion - Hell. Most Jews believe in a Messianic Age, a time when the Messiah returns and the holy are resurrected but the unjust remain dead.
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Current Adherents Worldwide/Geographic Distribution/Statistics

13.9 million Jews in the world (2013).

  1. Israel - 42.9%

  2. United States - 40.1%

  3. France - 3.3%

  4. Canada - 2.7%

  5. U.K. - 2%

  6. Russia - 1.3%

  7. Argentina - 1.3%

  8. Germany - 0.8%

  9. Australia - 0.8%

  10. Brazil - 0.7%

  11. Ukraine - 0.4%

  12. South Africa - 0.5%

  13. Hungary - 0.3%

  14. Mexico - 0.3%

  15. Belgium - 0.2%

3 Major Sects: Reform, Conservative, Orthodox

Interesting Information

  • Traditional, or Orthodox Jews, follow 613 commandments, outlined in the Torah, as opposed to Christianity's 10.

  • One of the oldest religions in the world.

  • Judaism is the only religion in the world that has lost its holy land and was able to regain it.

  • Gematria is the name of a system of Jewish numerology, assigning a numerical value to letters.

  • The Western Wall is a large retaining wall is all that is left of the second Jewish Temple, built in Jerusalem by King Herod. It is located on the western side of the Temple Mount.

  • Jews gather there daily for prayer and celebration.

  • According to the Jewish law, anyone who is born of a Jewish mother, counts as a Jew no matter what.

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