Judaism is the oldest of the world's
four great monotheistic religions. It's also the smallest, with only about
12 million followers around the world.
Most Jewish people in the world live in Israel or the USA. The largest
European Jewish community is in France.
Judaism does not seek converts. Those who convert to Judaism must
undertake the observance of Torah (Jewish Law), including, if they are
The essence of being Jewish is that one is part of a Jewish community, and
lives one's life according to Jewish law and traditions. So Judaism is a
way of life inextricably entwined with a system of beliefs.
The fundamental beliefs of Judaism are:
- There is a single, all-powerful God, who created the universe and
everything in it.
- God has a special relationship with the Jewish people, cemented by the
covenant that God made with Moses on Mount Sinai, 3500 years ago.
The Jewish place of worship is called a Synagogue.
The religious leader of a Jewish community is called a Rabbi.
Unlike leaders in many other faiths, a rabbi is not a priest and has no
special religious status.
The Jewish holy day, or Sabbath, starts at sunset on Friday and
continues until sunset on Saturday. During the Sabbath, observant Jews
will do nothing that might be counted as work. Among the things that they
can't do are driving and cooking.
The Torah or Hebrew Bible (which Christians call the Old
Testament), and particularly the first 5 books.
At least one copy of the Torah, in Hebrew, is kept in every synagogue in
the form of a hand-written parchment scroll.
The Talmud, a compendium of law and commentary on the Torah
applying it to life in later and changed circumstances.
The symbol of Judaism is the Magen (shield) of David, which is
often called the Star of David.
Many people regard themselves as being Jewish without taking part in many
religious practices, or even accepting the core beliefs of Judaism,
because they identify themselves with the Jewish People, and follow the
general customs of Jewish life.
In Judaism Hanukkah, the festival of lights, is celebrated by the
lighting of candles and the preparation of traditional potato cakes.
Although it is often seen today as a symbol of the survival of the Jewish
people, in Christian countries where Christmas is the major festival,
Hanukkah has become the Jewish equivalent with presents given to children.
To learn about Judaism you can go to the following links or perform your