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The History of Judaism

By Vanessa, published on 08/08/2019 We Love Prof > Academia > History > Understanding Distinct Faiths: Judaism

“The beauty of Judaism is that it demands we ask questions, especially of ourselves.” -Edgar Bronfman Sr. 

According to recent statistics published by reputable sources, approximately 263,000 Jews are living in the UK territories of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales; which represent 0.5% of the entire population.

Judaism is the fifth largest religious community in the UK after Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Sheikhs. 

Therefore, to learn more about the religious customs of the Jews, a vital part of the UK’s diversity, Superprof has provided the following information for all curious readers.

Discovering the Roots of Judaism

the best of Judaism Judaism is a recognised faith that is practised all over the world. (Source: pixabay)

While many individuals may recognise Jews for their Kippah’s or the unfortunate events that occurred during the Holocaust, Judaism is a very ancient, layered, and intriguing faith.

Judaism is the world’s oldest monotheistic religion and dates back more than 4000 years. 

It is essential to state that followers of Judaism only believe in one God; which is quite unusual for those who practise polytheistic religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Jews believe in one God who revealed himself through ancient prophets such as Abraham and Moses.

Those of the Jewish faith believe that God is a holy being that established a covenant with them individually. Also, Jews cherish the thought that God rewards his servants who practise good deeds and punishes those who are involved with any evil doings.

All Jews, except the denomination of Messianic Jews, believe that the Messiah has not yet come but will indeed arrive one day shortly.

Judaism has its origins rooted in a place known in ancient times as Canaan, which is now geographically the places of Israel and Palestine. Also, it is essential to state that Judaism did not emerge until the 1st century; however, its traditions and customs are based on the practices of the people known as “Israel.”

Judaism traces all of its origins back to the time when God made a covenant with their prophet Abraham and his lineage; God would make them sacred people and assign them a particular territory.

The Jewish people greatly value men of the past, such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophet Moses. Therefore, since they have high regard for Moses, they base their teachings and social laws on the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures and call it the Torah.

Judaism has changed quite a bit over the years, and many denominations have been started. For example, among the Jews predominantly located throughout North America and Israel, there are sects such as Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Humanistic, and Messianic Jews.

Today there are more than 14 million Jews worldwide, and it is traditional for a person to be called a Jew if his or her mother is Jewish.

Getting to Know More About Judaism: Additional Information

Moses and the ten commandments Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament or Torah and is greatly valued by the Jews. (Source: pixabay)

Since Judaism is a dominant religion in today’s world it is essential for individuals who are curious about distinct faiths to become familiar with Jewish beliefs.

Where do Jews worship? Do the Jewish people have ancient texts or holy writings? Who are Judaism’s famous figures? What are the iconic symbols associated with Judaism? 

Without further ado, we will analyse some additional information about the Jewish faith that will, without a doubt, intrigue all of our avid readers.

Sacred Spaces

Just as the Christians have churches, the Buddhists have temples, and the Muslims have mosques, individuals who are devout Jews worship regularly at the following place:

  • Synagogue: Jews use their synagogues as a place of worship, to study new academic disciplines or gain necessary skills, and as a community centre. A Rabbi usually conducts the religious service offered at a temple and, it is interesting to state, that at an Orthodox Jew synagogue services are delivered in ancient Hebrew. The term “synagogue” derives from Greek and Hebrew and signifies “house of assembly.” Constant prayer and readings of the Tanakh are widespread occurrences in a synagogue.

Where do Hindus meet to worship their deities?

Holy Writings

World religions base their customs, traditions, and practices on principles and doctrines that have previously been written and are used for our instruction. Jews frequently use, apply, and refer to the following ancient texts:

  • Torah: the most sacred and most popular Jewish text is known as the Tanakh or the “Hebrew Bible.” It features the same books as the old testament or Hebrew scriptures, yet they are placed in a different order. The Torah is a section, the first five books, of the Tanakh. It denotes and outlines laws for Jews to follow. By many historians, the Torah is referred to as the Pentateuch. The Torah is often read aloud in Jewish synagogues.

Famous Jewish People

Any faith or system of beliefs has people that are noteworthy and worthy of recognition. Famous people from the world’s most prominent religions have made an impact and left a legacy that cannot be quickly forgotten. The succeeding people are Judaism’s foremost figures:

  • Prophet Abraham: mentioned in the holy scriptures in the book of Genesis, Abraham is a crucial figure of Judaism and is considered to be the first patriarch of the Jewish people.
  • Moses: one of the most influential people in Jewish history, Moses wrote the Pentateuch and is credited for helping the Israelites be freed from slavery and successfully cross the Red Sea with God’s help.
  • Albert Einstein: one of the 20th century’s most intriguing figures was a German-Jew known as Albert Einstein, who revolutionised modern-day physics with his theory of relativity.
  • Anne Frank: a devout Jew who died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp; best known for standing up to her beliefs and writing a diary that was published shortly after her death.

Popular Jewish Iconography

specific parts of Judaism Jews have popular iconography that is distinct from other faiths. (Source: pixabay)

Religions are identified to others by their popular iconography and symbols.

What icons is Judaism known for by the grand majority? 

Without further delay, the subsequent symbols are typically associated with Judaism:

  • Menorah: recognised by Jews as an icon representing the Temple of Jerusalem, it appears on the Emblem of Israel and is one of Judaism’s most common symbols.
  • Star of David: a symbol of Judaism as a religion and the Jewish people as a whole. Jewish scholars believe that this symbol was the shield David used. Many Jewish communities have chosen the Star of David as their official symbol.

Basic Beliefs of Judaism

Since we have learnt that there are many distinct denominations of Judaism, it is difficult to organise the central beliefs and doctrines of Jews in a single section. Nevertheless, in the following list, we will consider some of Judaism’s most common ideas that are taken into consideration by the vast majority of Jews:

  • Monotheism: Jews do not believe in a significant number of gods that can be worshipped; instead they are convinced that there is only a single God that created the universe and with whom all Jews can have a personal and close relationship. Devout followers of Judaism believe that God continues to work in the world and affects everything that we do. Jews remember to keep God’s laws and bring holiness into every aspect of their lives.
  • The Community: since the Jews believe that God appointed them as his chosen ones to set a positive example of holiness and cleanliness to outsiders looking in, Jewish life is very much about community. There are many activities that Jews must complete together as a community. For example, the Jewish prayer book includes the words WE and OUR instead of other faiths that only state the words I and MINE. The Jews feel apart of a global community and experience a closeness with others of the gospel in distinct countries.
  • Judaism is Familial: Jews are very much familial, and typical ceremonies start quite early. For example, at eight days old Jewish boys are circumcised, following the instructions that God gave to Abraham. Also, many Jewish customs revolve around the home, such as the Sabbath.

While the previously mentioned beliefs are quite fundamental to the Jewish faith, it is essential to state that other aspects such as the mitzvah observance, the holy temple, Shabbat, and other intriguing facts are necessary to learn to become better acquired with Judaism.

Definitions About Judaism

While reading this article, were there some terms that you didn’t understand at all? If so, do not worry, you are not alone! Learning more about distinct religions means observing terms that are not used in everyday speech.

What is the Sabbath? 

The Sabbath is an event that is observed weekly and is commanded by God. The Sabbath begins at nightfall on Friday and lasts until evening on Saturday. It is an observance that lasts 25 hours and comes from the Hebrew word that means rest.

What is a Kippah? 

A Kippah or yarmulke is a brimless cap that is worn by male Jews to fulfil the customary requirement held by Orthodox authorities so that the head can be adequately covered.

The information acquired in today’s article will effectively help all individuals learn more about the Jewish faith and build tolerance for their fellow neighbours.

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