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by terynlail
Last updated 8 years ago

Social Studies
Religious Studies

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Basic BeliefsJewish people believe in God and Jewish the laws called Halakha. They believe that Halakha is more important than God. Some Jewish people believe that you can be atheist and Jewish at the same time, but those people are a minority. There are two types of Jewish laws: one is the laws that humans thought of and the other is the laws believed to be from God. Halakha laws are very strict to live by but Jewish people still live by them. They expect people who aren’t Jewish to live by seven of their rule. Those rules are very basic and most people who aren’t criminals already follow those rules without even knowing about them. Most of the Jewish laws can be broken under certain circumstances for example, in order to avoid major financial loss some rules may be broken. All of the laws except for one may be broken in order to save a life. The one law that may never be broken under any circumstances is the law against murder. Jewish people believe that on Mount Sinai God taught Moses the Ten Commandments, the written Torah and the Oral Torah. The written Torah cannot be understood without the oral Torah which was passed down orally for thousands of years.

AfterlifeThere are very few theories of what happens in the afterlife. Some believe that people go to heaven. Others just don’t know what happens or they don’t believe anything will happen. There is a famous book called the book of the dead in the Torah which focuses on the importance of living life right now and not worrying about what the afterlife holds. According to the Torah God said that there would be no pain and no sadness. Everyone will come together as one in my kingdom.

Joining the Religion To become a member of Judaism you need to practice. Afterwards you have to go in front of the Jewish judges and you have to be accepted. You have to learn about the religion and be a part of it. There are several different branches of Judaism: Chasidic (extremely strict), Orthodox (strict), Conservative (semi strict), Reform (lenient) and Reconstructionist which is mixed. One way to practice is to go to a synagogue. You have to learn the Hebrew language so that you can understand the proclamation, then choose the branch you have interest in and study to become more confident with the topic. If you are going to convert to Judaism you have to be 100% dedicated to the religion and none else. The main part is just understanding what Judaism really is.

Different GroupsIn Judaism there are four main groups within the religion: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist. Orthodox is traditional Judaism which means believing in the Torah and Old Testament and living by Halakha. Conservative is in the middle of Orthodox and Reform which isn’t strict. There is also Reconstruction which is a mix of them and Chasidic which is very strict. Most Jewish people worship in a synagogue.

FactsJudaism is one of the major religions in the world. The estimated amount of Jewish people on earth as of 2010 is 13.4 million. 42% live in Israel, another 42% live in North America and the remaining 16% mostly live in Europe. Israel has the highest concentration of Jewish people out of every country on Earth. Judaism is one of the oldest religions still commonly practiced.

SymbolThe Star of David is the symbol of Judaism. No one knows exactly when it started to be used or what its meaning is. One of the more popular meanings is that the six points represent God’s control on all six directions, North, South, East, West, up and down. The center represents God's control over the spiritual world.

Holidays and FestivalsJewish people observe many different holidays, but we will focus on three of them. All holidays last one day longer if spent outside of Israel, for example, Passover lasts eight days outside of Israel but in Israel it only lasts seven days. Passover celebrates when thousands of years ago the Israelites led by Moses were freed from Egyptian slavery. No leavened (raised bread) may be eaten during Passover. Yom Kippur is the Holiest day of the year for Jewish people. All work or “melacha,” is forbidden, so are luxuries and nice clothing such as leather shoes. More praying than usual is done on Yom Kippur. Hanukkah is the Jewish celebration of light. It celebrates when the Seleucid Empire left Jewish lands and the people could openly practice Judaism. People were short on supplies and they only had enough oil for one day but it miraculously lasted for a week. Hanukkah is actually a minor Holiday for Judaism but it has many traditions to make it seem more significant than it actually is. One of these traditional practices is the lighting of a menora.

GodJudaism is a monotheistic religion which means they believe that there is only one god. They worship God and pray three times per day and more on holidays. They believe that God helped them throughout history, performing many miracles and assised them when the Israelites journeyed to the Promised Land.

Important RitualsJewish people have many rituals that they practice. One of these is Sabbath which starts Friday night and ends Saturday night. God commanded that they keep the Sabbath holy in the fourth of the Ten Commandments. On Sabbath people avoid doing “melacha,” which is Hebrew for work. They also try to avoid cooking and chores. Another ritual is the Tefillin, which is a leather box strapped to the head and arm during morning prayers. An important ritual for all Jewish men and boys is Bar Mitzvah. Bar Mitzvah is when Jewish boys come of age (13) and become men. They have to be able to read from the Torah and have a lot of knowledge on the religion.

Important IndividualsThe important individuals in Judaism are prophets and leaders. The most important prophets and leaders are Abraham, David, Jesus, Isaac and Moses. Moses was a biblical Hebrew leader, lawgiver and prophet who wrote the Torah based on what God told him. He is the most important figure in Judaism. Abraham was the first leader of the Jewish people (or the Israelites) he was like the father of them. Abraham told the nomadic Jewish people that there was only one god. All of the Prophetsincluding David, Jesus and Isaac taught the people about God and took a covenant with God.

A Torah Scroll

Mathew W., Nick and Teryn



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