Deeksha Sriram, Ali Gentry, Claire Police

Diffusion of Judaism

The first major expansion of Judaism came during the time of the Maccabean rulers of Judah. They expanded the territory to the North and South, capturing Idumea, Samaria, and Galilee. However, Judaism has mostly spread through relocation diffusion. That is the only way it could have been done, actually. Technology does not spread religion, so the only way is the people of Judaism traveling, and spreading around Judaism while they do.

Holy Places of Judaism

Judaism has lots of sacred and holy places, but they have one that is the most important to them. It is called the “The Western Wall.” When Rome destroyed the Second Temple in 70 C.E., only one outer wall remained standing. The Romans probably would have destroyed that wall as well, but it must have seemed too insignificant to them; it was not even part of the Temple itself, just an outer wall surrounding the Temple Mount. For the Jews, however, this remnant of what was the most sacred building in the Jewish world quickly became the holiest spot in Jewish life. Throughout the centuries Jews from throughout the world made the difficult pilgrimage to Palestine, and immediately headed for the Kotel ha-Ma'aravi (the Western Wall) to thank God.

Where Judaism is Practiced Today

Judaism is actually seen all around the world. The religion itself is not very popular, as in not a lot of people follow it, but a little bit of people in every place around the world follow it.

Number of Followers of Judaism

As of now, Judaism has 14,500,000 followers. However, those numbers could be decreasing or increasing at any time.

Below is a map of the distribution of followers of Judaism. The numbers are in millions and the blue is Judaism.

Origin of Judaism

Abram (Abraham) in circa 1800 BCE was the first person to believe and spread that there was only one creator of the world. When Moses led many Jews out of Egypt and away from slavery, he was thought to have bargained with God and gotten the 10 Commandments. The bargain was: If the Jews made God their one and only creator of heaven and Earth, then God would make them the elect people.

Basic Religious beliefs of Judaism

Monotheistic; one God that is with people in their everyday lives. They believe every person is created in the image of God. Jewish people serve God through study and prayer, and also study the commandments in the Torah. Daily prayers are done at home.

Judaism is an Ethnic religion.

Branches of Judaism

The main branches of Judaism are Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform.

Orthodox believes that God is a spirit, not a form, and is compassionate and personal.
The Conservative branch believes that God is unspeakable and impersonal.
The Reform branch believes that they don’t know the truth, so there are many different interpretations of God.

Key Figures in Judaism

1.) God- created the universe and life; they do not say his name aloud (for a reason TBD)
2.) Moses- Moses was the greatest of the prophets, a great leader and teacher; he also led the Jews out of Egypt and into the Promised Land
3.) The Prophets- they were people chosen by God to speak to the people on His behalf

Holy Texts in Judaism

Torah- refers to the five books of Moses, Genesis, Leviticus, Exodus, Numbers and Dueteronomy. The word “torah” can also refer to the entire Jewish bible. They are not supposed to touch the scrolls of Torah because they are too holy.

Symbols in Judaism

1.) The candle: the candle is important, because fire is warm and inviting. It is said the flame is the symbol for God’s relationship with the world and human beings
2.) The word Chai: it means life, and has a number value of 18. Most hebrews wear this word on a necklace
3.) Headcoverings: men cover their heads with a kippah, which shows their respect to God. Women who are married and religious wear a wig, scarf or other covering to show modesty
4.) The Menorah: seen in most synagogues around the world; originally a candelabrum; seven branches
5.) The Mezuzah: a symbol attached to doorways, that identifies the home as Jewish, there are two parts; the scroll, on which certain prayers are written and a container for the scroll, which is usually decorated
6.) The Shofar: a ram’s horn that is polished and used at Jewish holidays. It is blown to bring in the new year
7.) The Tallit: also known as a prayer shawl; worn during prayer to remind that God is protecting them
8.) The Tefillin: binded to the head and arms of men during prayer; said to take them a higher spiritual level
9.) The Hamsa: a good luck charm; shaped like a hand with an eye in the center; reminds of God’s watchful eye and protective hand

Jewish Place of Worship

Synagogue- men generally took the lead in learning and being able to read Hebrew.

Impact on social/family structures:

1.) Jews are monotheistic- God
2.) They believe that every person was made in the divine image.
3.) Jews believe that all Jews have a sense of community, even though they might be around the world, they are interconnected.
4.) The elders of the family are very well respected.

Impact on cultural beliefs/ expectations:

1.)Jesus was not the messiah.
2.) The Torah is their most important text, and they have 10 Commandments that they follow.
3.) Inter-religious marriages are severely frowned upon.
Hebrew Chanting - Sacred Jewish Music - songs, chants, Shabbat, Shalom and more!

Why didn't Judaism spread as fast as the other religions?