Exploring Religion

Origins of the Religion

Origin of the Religion

  • Israel
  • Palestine
  • Mount Sinai

Basic Religious Beliefs

  • Believe there is one all powerful God who reveals himself to human beings, called Yahweh.
  • Consider themselves the chosen people
  • Believe in the Ten Commandments
    • Examples- You shall not have any gods before me.
    • You shall not murder.
  • Follow strict dietary laws called Kosher.
  • People are made in God’s image, so there is no specific evil in human beings
  • The seventh day of the week is called the Sabbath, and no work can be done on that day.

Classification of Religion

  • Ethnic religion

Branches or Divisions of the Religion

  • Orthodox Judaism
    • Have a more strict interpretation on traditional values
  • Conservative Judaism
    • Believe that Jewish practices can change to fit times
  • Reform Judaism
    • Have a less strict interpretation of traditional values

Geographic Distribution

How the Religion Diffused

  • Romans forced the Jews out of the Middle East in 70 CE. They migrated from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe, but some went to North America and Asia. Judaism was mainly spread through relocation diffusion.

Holy Places

  • Wailing Wall or Kotel - believed to be the remains of a great Jewish temple, and many people travel there for pilgrimage
  • Temple Mount - a very important religious site in the Old City of Jerusalem

Where it is Practiced Today

  • Israel
  • America (many in New York)
  • Former Soviet Union Republics, especially Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, and the Ukraine

Number of Followers

  • About 14 million people

Unique Features

Key Figures and Important People

  • Abraham - Father of the Jewish people
  • Moses - Led the Jews out of slavery in Egypt to the promised land.
  • Jacob (Israel) - Abraham’s grandson, had twelve sons that became the twelve tribes of Israel
  • Saul - Israel’s first King
  • David - Second King of Israel
  • Solomon - David’s son, and Third King of Israel

Holy Texts

  • Tanakh - The Hebrew Bible
    • Made of Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim
  • Talmud - written interpretation of the scriptures
    • Made of Mishna (definitive code of Jewish law) and Gemara (commontary on the Mishna)

Religious Symbols

  • Kippah head covering for men
  • Star of David
  • Torah scroll

Place of Worship

  • Synagogue

Impact on Social and Family Structure

  • Social
    • Rabbis have a special service
    • Elders are revered
    • Children are nurtured and well raised
  • Family Structures
    • Strong family values
    • Close knit families
    • Encourage both parents to play an active role in the children's lives
    • Encourage children to be born to couples in wedlock.

Impact on Cultural Beliefs and Expectations

  • Must celebrate important Jewish holidays
    • Certain rituals within those holidays
  • Kosher- restrictions on the Jewish diet.
  • Sabbath- No work can be done on day of the week.
  • Must marry a Jew, because you must be born a Jew
  • Jewish women are supposed to have lots of children
  • Men and boys must study the Torah

Essential Question

Why does Judaism limit membership to their own ethnic group?


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