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Judaism

Judaism

Overview
Judaism) is the "religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, and way of life" of the Jewish people
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

. Originating in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 (also known as the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

) and explored in later texts such as the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, it is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenantal relationship God
God in Judaism
The conception of God in Judaism is strictly monotheistic. God is an absolute one indivisible incomparable being who is the ultimate cause of all existence. Jewish tradition teaches that the true aspect of God is incomprehensible and unknowable, and that it is only God's revealed aspect that...

 developed with the Children of Israel. According to Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud...

, God revealed his laws and commandments
613 mitzvot
The 613 commandments is a numbering of the statements and principles of law, ethics, and spiritual practice contained in the Torah or Five Books of Moses...

 to Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 on Mount Sinai
Biblical Mount Sinai
The Biblical Mount Sinai is the mountain at which the Book of Exodus states that the Ten Commandments were given to Moses by God...

 in the form of both the Written
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 and Oral Torah
Oral Torah
The Oral Torah comprises the legal and interpretative traditions that, according to tradition, were transmitted orally from Mount Sinai, and were not written in the Torah...

. This was historically challenged by the Karaites
Karaite Judaism
Karaite Judaism or Karaism is a Jewish movement characterized by the recognition of the Tanakh alone as its supreme legal authority in Halakhah, as well as in theology...

, a movement that flourished in the medieval period, retains several thousand followers today and maintains that only the Written Torah was revealed.
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Quotations

Mankind, East and West, Christian and Muslim, accepted the Jewish conviction that there is only one G-d. Today it is polytheism that is so difficult to understand, that is so unthinkable.

T. R. Grover, The Ancient World, p. 186

It is against their own insoluble problem of being human that the dull and base in humanity are in revolt in anti-Semitism. Judaism, nevertheless, together with Hellenism and Christianity is an inalienable component of our Christian Western civilization, the eternal "call to Sinai" against which humanity again and again rebels.

Herman Rauschning, The Beast From the Abyss, pp. 155-56

Throughout our history there have been weaker elements who have shirked the sacrifices which Judaism entailed. They have been swallowed, long since, in the great majority; only the more stalwart have carried on the traditions of their ancestors, and can now look back with pride upon their superb heritage. Are we to be numbered with the weak majority, or with the stalwart minority? It is for ourselves to decide.

Cecil Roth, A History of the Jews (Oxford University Press, 1961) p.423

Most firmly hold and never doubt that not only pagans, but also all Jews, all heretics, and all schismatics who finish this life outside of the Catholic Church, will go into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Fulgentius of Ruspe|Saint Fulgentius (467–527), Enchriridion Patristicum
Encyclopedia
Judaism) is the "religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, and way of life" of the Jewish people
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

. Originating in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 (also known as the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

) and explored in later texts such as the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, it is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenantal relationship God
God in Judaism
The conception of God in Judaism is strictly monotheistic. God is an absolute one indivisible incomparable being who is the ultimate cause of all existence. Jewish tradition teaches that the true aspect of God is incomprehensible and unknowable, and that it is only God's revealed aspect that...

 developed with the Children of Israel. According to Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud...

, God revealed his laws and commandments
613 mitzvot
The 613 commandments is a numbering of the statements and principles of law, ethics, and spiritual practice contained in the Torah or Five Books of Moses...

 to Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 on Mount Sinai
Biblical Mount Sinai
The Biblical Mount Sinai is the mountain at which the Book of Exodus states that the Ten Commandments were given to Moses by God...

 in the form of both the Written
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 and Oral Torah
Oral Torah
The Oral Torah comprises the legal and interpretative traditions that, according to tradition, were transmitted orally from Mount Sinai, and were not written in the Torah...

. This was historically challenged by the Karaites
Karaite Judaism
Karaite Judaism or Karaism is a Jewish movement characterized by the recognition of the Tanakh alone as its supreme legal authority in Halakhah, as well as in theology...

, a movement that flourished in the medieval period, retains several thousand followers today and maintains that only the Written Torah was revealed. In modern times, liberal movements such as Humanistic Judaism
Humanistic Judaism
Humanistic Judaism is a movement in Judaism that offers a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life. It defines Judaism as the cultural and historical experience of the Jewish people and encourages humanistic and secular Jews to celebrate their Jewish identity by participating in Jewish...

 may be nontheistic.

Judaism claims a historical continuity spanning more than 3,000 years. It is one of the oldest monotheistic
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 religions, and the oldest to survive into the present day. The Hebrews
Hebrews
Hebrews is an ethnonym used in the Hebrew Bible...

 / Israelites were already referred to as "Jews" in later books of the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

 such as the Book of Esther
Book of Esther
The Book of Esther is a book in the Ketuvim , the third section of the Jewish Tanakh and is part of the Christian Old Testament. The Book of Esther or the Megillah is the basis for the Jewish celebration of Purim...

, with the term Jews replacing the title "Children of Israel". Judaism's texts, traditions and values strongly influenced later Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

, including Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and the Baha'i Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

. Many aspects of Judaism have also directly or indirectly influenced secular Western
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 and civil law.

Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 are an ethnoreligious group and include those born Jewish and converts to Judaism. In 2010, the world Jewish population was estimated at 13.4 million, or roughly 0.2% of the total world population. About 42% of all Jews reside in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and about 42% reside in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, with most of the remainder living in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. The largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 (Hareidi Judaism and Modern Orthodox Judaism
Modern Orthodox Judaism
Modern Orthodox Judaism is a movement within Orthodox Judaism that attempts to synthesize Jewish values and the observance of Jewish law, with the secular, modern world....

), Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

 and Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

. A major source of difference between these groups is their approach to Jewish law
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

. Orthodox Judaism maintains that the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 and Jewish law are divine in origin, eternal and unalterable, and that they should be strictly followed. Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal, with Conservative Judaism generally promoting a more "traditional" interpretation of Judaism's requirements than Reform Judaism. A typical Reform position is that Jewish law should be viewed as a set of general guidelines rather than as a set of restrictions and obligations whose observance is required of all Jews. Historically, special courts
Beth din
A beth din, bet din, beit din or beis din is a rabbinical court of Judaism. In ancient times, it was the building block of the legal system in the Biblical Land of Israel...

 enforced Jewish law
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

; today, these courts still exist but the practice of Judaism is mostly voluntary. Authority on theological and legal matters is not vested in any one person or organization, but in the sacred texts and the many rabbis and scholars who interpret these texts.

Defining character



Unlike other ancient Near Eastern gods, the Hebrew God is portrayed as unitary and solitary; consequently, the Hebrew God's principal relationships are not with other gods, but with the world, and more specifically, with the people He created. Judaism thus begins with an ethical monotheism: the belief that God is one, and concerned with the actions of humankind. According to the Hebrew Bible, God promised Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 to make of his offspring a great nation. Many generations later, he commanded the nation of Israel to love and worship only one God; that is, the Jewish nation is to reciprocate God's concern for the world. He also commanded the Jewish people to love one another; that is, Jews are to imitate God's love for people. These commandments are but two of a large corpus of commandments
613 mitzvot
The 613 commandments is a numbering of the statements and principles of law, ethics, and spiritual practice contained in the Torah or Five Books of Moses...

 and laws
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

 that constitute this covenant
Covenant (biblical)
A biblical covenant is an agreement found in the Bible between God and His people in which God makes specific promises and demands. It is the customary word used to translate the Hebrew word berith. It it is used in the Tanakh 286 times . All Abrahamic religions consider the Biblical covenant...

, which is the substance of Judaism.

Thus, although there is an esoteric tradition in Judaism (Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

), Rabbinic scholar Max Kadushin
Max Kadushin
Max Kadushin was a Conservative rabbi best known for his organic philosophy of rabbinics.-Biography:After graduating from New York University, Kadushin studied for the rabbinate at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America during the 1920s. There he encountered Mordecai Kaplan and soon became a...

 has characterized normative Judaism as "normal mysticism", because it involves every-day personal experiences of God through ways or modes that are common to all Jews. This is played out through the observance of the halakhot
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

 and given verbal expression in the Birkat Ha-Mizvot, the short blessings that are spoken every time a positive commandment is to be fulfilled.
The ordinary, familiar, everyday things and occurrences, we have constitute occasions for the experience of God. Such things as one's daily sustenance, the very day itself, are felt as manifestations of God's loving-kindness, calling for the Berakhot. Kedushah, holiness, which is nothing else than the imitation of God, is concerned with daily conduct, with being gracious and merciful, with keeping oneself from defilement by idolatry, adultery, and the shedding of blood. The Birkat Ha-Mitzwot evokes the consciousness of holiness at a rabbinic rite, but the objects employed in the majority of these rites are non-holy and of general character, while the several holy objects are non-theurgic.
Theurgy
Theurgy describes the practice of rituals, sometimes seen as magical in nature, performed with the intention of invoking the action or evoking the presence of one or more gods, especially with the goal of uniting with the divine, achieving henosis, and perfecting oneself.- Definitions :*Proclus...

 And not only do ordinary things and occurrences bring with them the experience of God. Everything that happens to a man evokes that experience, evil as well as good, for a Berakah is said also at evil tidings. Hence, although the experience of God is like none other, the occasions for experiencing Him, for having a consciousness of Him, are manifold, even if we consider only those that call for Berakot.

Whereas Jewish philosophers
Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

 often debate whether God is immanent or transcendent, and whether people have free will or their lives are determined, Halakha
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

 is a system through which any Jew acts to bring God into the world.

Ethical monotheism is central in all sacred or normative texts of Judaism. However, monotheism has not always been followed in practice. The Jewish Bible (Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

) records and repeatedly condemns the widespread worship of other gods in ancient Israel. In the Greco-Roman era, many different interpretations of monotheism existed in Judaism, including the interpretations that gave rise to Christianity.

Moreover, as a non-creedal religion, some have argued that Judaism does not require one to believe in God. For some, observance of Jewish law is more important than belief in God per se. In modern times, some liberal Jewish movements do not accept the existence of a personified deity active in history.

Core tenets





Scholars throughout Jewish history
Jewish history
Jewish history is the history of the Jews, their religion and culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions and cultures. Since Jewish history is over 4000 years long and includes hundreds of different populations, any treatment can only be provided in broad strokes...

 have proposed numerous formulations of Judaism's core tenets, all of which have met with criticism. The most popular formulation is Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

' thirteen principles of faith, developed in the 12th century. According to Maimonides, any Jew who rejects even one of these principles would be considered an apostate and a heretic. Jewish scholars have held points of view diverging in various ways from Maimonides' principles.

In Maimonides' time, his list of tenets was criticized by Hasdai Crescas
Hasdai Crescas
Hasdai ben Judah Crescas was a Jewish philosopher and a renowned halakhist...

 and Joseph Albo
Joseph Albo
Joseph Albo was a Jewish philosopher and rabbi who lived in Spain during the fifteenth century, known chiefly as the author of Sefer ha-Ikkarim , the classic work on the fundamentals of Judaism.-Early life:Albo's birthplace is generally assumed to be Monreal, a town in Aragon...

. Albo and the Raavad
Abraham ben David
Rabbeinu Abraham ben David was a Provençal rabbi, a great commentator on the Talmud, Sefer Halachot of Rabbi Yitzhak Alfasi and Mishne Torah of Maimonides, and is regarded as a father of Kabbalah and one of the key and important links in the chain of Jewish mystics...

 argued that Maimonides' principles contained too many items that, while true, were not fundamentals of the faith.

Along these lines, the ancient historian Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 emphasized practices and observances rather than religious beliefs, associating apostasy
Apostasy
Apostasy , 'a defection or revolt', from ἀπό, apo, 'away, apart', στάσις, stasis, 'stand, 'standing') is the formal disaffiliation from or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. One who commits apostasy is known as an apostate. These terms have a pejorative implication in everyday...

 with a failure to observe Jewish law and maintaining that the requirements for conversion to Judaism included circumcision
Circumcision
Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin from the penis. The word "circumcision" comes from Latin and ....

 and adherence to traditional customs. Maimonides' principles were largely ignored over the next few centuries. Later, two poetic restatements of these principles ("Ani Ma'amin
Ani Ma'amin
Ani Ma'amin "I believe" is a prosaic rendition of Maimonides' thirteen-point version of the Jewish principles of faith. It is based on his Mishnah commentary to tractate Sanhedrin. The popular version of Ani Ma'amin is of a later date and has some significant differences with Maimonides' original...

" and "Yigdal
Yigdal
Yigdal is a Jewish hymn which in various rituals shares with Adon 'Olam the place of honor at the opening of the morning and the close of the evening service. It is based on the 13 Articles of Faith formulated by Moses ben Maimon, and was written by Daniel ben Judah Dayan , who spent eight years...

") became integrated into many Jewish liturgies, leading to their eventual near-universal acceptance.

In modern times, Judaism lacks a centralized authority that would dictate an exact religious dogma. Because of this, many different variations on the basic beliefs are considered within the scope of Judaism. Even so, all Jewish religious movements are, to a greater or lesser extent, based on the principles of the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 and various commentaries such as the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 and Midrash
Midrash
The Hebrew term Midrash is a homiletic method of biblical exegesis. The term also refers to the whole compilation of homiletic teachings on the Bible....

. Judaism also universally recognizes the Biblical Covenant
Covenant (biblical)
A biblical covenant is an agreement found in the Bible between God and His people in which God makes specific promises and demands. It is the customary word used to translate the Hebrew word berith. It it is used in the Tanakh 286 times . All Abrahamic religions consider the Biblical covenant...

 between God and the Patriarch
Patriarchs (Bible)
The Patriarchs of the Bible, when narrowly defined, are Abraham, the ancestor of all the Abrahamic nations; his son Isaac, the ancestor of the nations surrounding Israel/Judah; and Isaac's son Jacob, also named Israel, the ancestor of the Israelites...

 Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 as well as the additional aspects of the Covenant revealed to Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, who is considered Judaism's greatest prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

. In the Mishnah
Mishnah
The Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism. It was redacted c...

, a core text of Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud...

, acceptance of the Divine origins of this covenant is considered an essential aspect of Judaism and those who reject the Covenant forfeit their share in the World to Come
World to Come
The World to Come is an eschatological phrase reflecting the belief that the "current world" is flawed or cursed and will be replaced in the future by a better world or a paradise. The concept is similar to the concepts of Heaven and the afterlife, but Heaven is another place generally seen as...

.

Jewish religious texts


The following is a basic, structured list of the central works of Jewish practice and thought.
  • Tanakh
    Tanakh
    The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

     (Hebrew Bible
    Hebrew Bible
    The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

    ) and commentaries

    • Mesorah
      Masoretic Text
      The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

    • Targum
      Targum
      Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon means "to strike or break with fist"; and do means "way", "method", or "path"...

    • Jewish Biblical exegesis (also see Midrash
      Midrash
      The Hebrew term Midrash is a homiletic method of biblical exegesis. The term also refers to the whole compilation of homiletic teachings on the Bible....

       below)
  • Works of the Talmudic Era (classic rabbinic literature)
    • Mishnah
      Mishnah
      The Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism. It was redacted c...

       and commentaries
    • Tosefta
      Tosefta
      The Tosefta is a compilation of the Jewish oral law from the period of the Mishnah.-Overview:...

       and the minor tractates
    • Talmud
      Talmud
      The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

      :
      • The Babylonian Talmud and commentaries
      • Jerusalem Talmud
        Jerusalem Talmud
        The Jerusalem Talmud, talmud meaning "instruction", "learning", , is a collection of Rabbinic notes on the 2nd-century Mishnah which was compiled in the Land of Israel during the 4th-5th century. The voluminous text is also known as the Palestinian Talmud or Talmud de-Eretz Yisrael...

         and commentaries
  • Midrashic literature
    Midrash
    The Hebrew term Midrash is a homiletic method of biblical exegesis. The term also refers to the whole compilation of homiletic teachings on the Bible....

    :
    • Halakhic Midrash
      Midrash halakha
      Midrash halakha was the ancient Judaic rabbinic method of Torah study that expounded upon the traditionally received 613 Mitzvot by identifying their sources in the Tanakh , and by interpreting these passages as proofs of the laws' authenticity. Midrash more generally also refers to the...

    • Aggadic Midrash
  • Halakhic
    Halakha
    Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

     literature
    • Major Codes of Jewish Law and Custom
      • Mishneh Torah
        Mishneh Torah
        The Mishneh Torah subtitled Sefer Yad ha-Hazaka is a code of Jewish religious law authored by Maimonides , one of history's foremost rabbis...

         and commentaries
      • Tur
        Arba'ah Turim
        Arba'ah Turim , often called simply the Tur, is an important Halakhic code, composed by Yaakov ben Asher...

         and commentaries
      • Shulchan Aruch
        Shulchan Aruch
        The Shulchan Aruch also known as the Code of Jewish Law, is the most authoritative legal code of Judaism. It was authored in Safed, Israel, by Yosef Karo in 1563 and published in Venice two years later...

         and commentaries
    • Responsa
      Responsa
      Responsa comprise a body of written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars in response to questions addressed to them.-In the Roman Empire:Roman law recognised responsa prudentium, i.e...

       literature
  • Jewish Thought and Ethics
    • Jewish philosophy
      Jewish philosophy
      Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

    • Kabbalah
      Kabbalah
      Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

    • Hasidic
      Hasidic Judaism
      Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" , is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith...

       works
    • Musar literature
      Musar literature
      Musar literature is the term used for didactic Jewish ethical literature which describes virtues and vices and the path towards perfection in a methodical way.- Definition of Musar literature :...

       and other works of Jewish ethics
      Jewish ethics
      Jewish ethics stands at the intersection of Judaism and the Western philosophical tradition of ethics. Like other types of religious ethics, the diverse literature of Jewish ethics primarily aims to answer a broad range of moral questions and, hence, may be classified as a normative ethics...

  • Siddur
    Siddur
    A siddur is a Jewish prayer book, containing a set order of daily prayers. This article discusses how some of these prayers evolved, and how the siddur, as it is known today has developed...

     and Jewish liturgy
    Jewish services
    Jewish prayer are the prayer recitations that form part of the observance of Judaism. These prayers, often with instructions and commentary, are found in the siddur, the traditional Jewish prayer book....

  • Piyyut
    Piyyut
    A piyyut or piyut is a Jewish liturgical poem, usually designated to be sung, chanted, or recited during religious services. Piyyutim have been written since Temple times...

    (Classical Jewish poetry)

Jewish legal literature



The basis of Jewish law and tradition (halakha) is the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 (also known as the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses). According to rabbinic tradition there are 613 commandments
613 mitzvot
The 613 commandments is a numbering of the statements and principles of law, ethics, and spiritual practice contained in the Torah or Five Books of Moses...

 in the Torah. Some of these laws are directed only to men or to women, some only to the ancient priestly groups, the Kohanim
Kohen
A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

 and Leviyim
Levite
In Jewish tradition, a Levite is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the Levites were the only Israelite tribe that received cities but were not allowed to be landowners "because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance"...

 (members of the tribe of Levi
Levi
Levi/Levy was, according to the Book of Genesis, the third son of Jacob and Leah, and the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Levi ; however Peake's commentary suggests this as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite...

), some only to farmers within the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

. Many laws were only applicable when the Temple in Jerusalem
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

 existed, and fewer than 300 of these commandments are still applicable today.

While there have been Jewish groups whose beliefs were claimed to be based on the written text of the Torah alone (e.g., the Sadducees
Sadducees
The Sadducees were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Ancient Israel during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BC through the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The sect was identified by Josephus with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society...

, and the Karaites
Karaite Judaism
Karaite Judaism or Karaism is a Jewish movement characterized by the recognition of the Tanakh alone as its supreme legal authority in Halakhah, as well as in theology...

), most Jews believed in what they call the oral law. These oral traditions were transmitted by the Pharisee
Pharisees
The Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty in the wake of...

 sect of ancient Judaism, and were later recorded in written form and expanded upon by the rabbis.

Rabbinic Judaism (which derives from the Pharisees) has always held that the books of the Torah (called the written law) have always been transmitted in parallel with an oral tradition. To justify this viewpoint, Jews point to the text of the Torah, where many words are left undefined, and many procedures mentioned without explanation or instructions; this, they argue, means that the reader is assumed to be familiar with the details from other, i.e., oral, sources. This parallel set of material was originally transmitted orally, and came to be known as "the oral law
Oral law
An oral law is a code of conduct in use in a given culture, religion or community application, by which a body of rules of human behaviour is transmitted by oral tradition and effectively respected, or the single rule that is orally transmitted....

".

By the time of Rabbi Judah haNasi
Judah haNasi
Judah the Prince, or Judah I, also known as Rebbi or Rabbeinu HaKadosh , was a 2nd-century CE rabbi and chief redactor and editor of the Mishnah. He was a key leader of the Jewish community during the Roman occupation of Judea . He was of the Davidic line, the royal line of King David, hence the...

 (200 CE), after the destruction of Jerusalem, much of this material was edited together into the Mishnah
Mishnah
The Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism. It was redacted c...

. Over the next four centuries this law underwent discussion and debate in both of the world's major Jewish communities (in Israel and Babylonia
History of the Jews in Iraq
The history of the Jews in Iraq is documented from the time of the Babylonian captivity c. 586 BCE. Iraqi Jews constitute one of the world's oldest and most historically significant Jewish communities....

), and the commentaries on the Mishnah from each of these communities eventually came to be edited together into compilations known as the two Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

s. These have been expounded by commentaries of various Torah scholars during the ages.

Halakha, the rabbinic Jewish way of life, then, is based on a combined reading of the Torah, and the oral tradition - the Mishnah, the halakhic Midrash
Midrash
The Hebrew term Midrash is a homiletic method of biblical exegesis. The term also refers to the whole compilation of homiletic teachings on the Bible....

, the Talmud and its commentaries. The Halakha has developed slowly, through a precedent-based system. The literature of questions to rabbis, and their considered answers, is referred to as responsa
Responsa
Responsa comprise a body of written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars in response to questions addressed to them.-In the Roman Empire:Roman law recognised responsa prudentium, i.e...

 (in Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

, Sheelot U-Teshuvot.) Over time, as practices develop, codes of Jewish law are written that are based on the responsa; the most important code, the Shulchan Aruch
Shulchan Aruch
The Shulchan Aruch also known as the Code of Jewish Law, is the most authoritative legal code of Judaism. It was authored in Safed, Israel, by Yosef Karo in 1563 and published in Venice two years later...

, largely determines Orthodox religious practice today.

Jewish philosophy


Jewish philosophy refers to the conjunction between serious study of philosophy and Jewish theology. Major Jewish philosophers include Solomon ibn Gabirol
Solomon ibn Gabirol
Solomon ibn Gabirol, also Solomon ben Judah , was an Andalucian Hebrew poet and Jewish philosopher with a Neoplatonic bent. He was born in Málaga about 1021; died about 1058 in Valencia.-Biography:...

, Saadia Gaon
Saadia Gaon
Saʻadiah ben Yosef Gaon was a prominent rabbi, Jewish philosopher, and exegete of the Geonic period.The first important rabbinic figure to write extensively in Arabic, he is considered the founder of Judeo-Arabic literature...

, Judah Halevi, Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

, and Gersonides
Gersonides
Levi ben Gershon, better known by his Latinised name as Gersonides or the abbreviation of first letters as RaLBaG , philosopher, Talmudist, mathematician, astronomer/astrologer. He was born at Bagnols in Languedoc, France...

. Major changes occurred in response to the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 (late 18th to early 19th century) leading to the post-Enlightenment Jewish philosophers. Modern Jewish philosophy consists of both Orthodox and non-Orthodox oriented philosophy. Notable among Orthodox Jewish philosophers are Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler
Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler
Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler was an Orthodox rabbi, Talmudic scholar, and Jewish philosopher of the 20th century. He is known as mashgiach ruchani of the Ponevezh yeshiva in Israel and through collections of his writings published posthumously by his pupils.-Lithuania:Eliyahu Dessler Eliyahu Eliezer...

, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and Yitzchok Hutner
Yitzchok Hutner
Yitzchok Hutner was an Orthodox rabbi and American rosh yeshiva.-Early years:Yitchok Hutner was born in Warsaw, Poland, to a family with both Ger Hasidic and non-Hasidic Lithuanian Jewish roots. As a child he received private instruction in Torah and Talmud...

. Well-known non-Orthodox Jewish philosophers include Martin Buber
Martin Buber
Martin Buber was an Austrian-born Jewish philosopher best known for his philosophy of dialogue, a form of religious existentialism centered on the distinction between the I-Thou relationship and the I-It relationship....

, Franz Rosenzweig
Franz Rosenzweig
Franz Rosenzweig was an influential Jewish theologian and philosopher.-Early life:Franz Rosenzweig was born in Kassel, Germany to a middle-class, minimally observant Jewish family...

, Mordecai Kaplan
Mordecai Kaplan
Mordecai Menahem Kaplan , was a rabbi, essayist and Jewish educator and the co-founder of Reconstructionist Judaism along with his son-in-law Ira Eisenstein.-Life and work:...

, Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel was a Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century.-Biography:...

, Will Herberg
Will Herberg
Will Herberg was an American Jewish writer, intellectual and scholar. He was known as a social philosopher and sociologist of religion, as well as a Jewish theologian.-Early life:...

, and Emmanuel Lévinas
Emmanuel Lévinas
Emmanuel Levinas was a Lithuanian-born French Jewish philosopher and Talmudic commentator.-Life:Emanuelis Levinas received a traditional Jewish education in Lithuania...

.

Related Topics
  • Torah database
    Torah database
    A Torah database is an electronic collection of classic Jewish texts in electronic form, the kinds of texts which especially in Israel are often called "The Traditional Jewish Bookshelf" ; the texts are in their original languages...

    s (electronic versions of the Traditional Jewish Bookshelf)
  • List of Jewish prayers and blessings

Rabbinic hermeneutics



Orthodox and many other Jews do not believe that the revealed Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 consists solely of its written contents, but of its interpretations as well. The study of Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 (in its widest sense, to include both poetry, narrative, and law, and both the Hebrew Bible
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

 and the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

) is in Judaism itself a sacred act of central importance. For the sages of the Mishnah
Mishnah
The Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism. It was redacted c...

 and Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, and for their successors today, the study of Torah was therefore not merely a means to learn the contents of God's revelation, but an end in itself. According to the Talmud,
These are the things for which a person enjoys the dividends in this world while the principal remains for the person to enjoy in the world to come; they are: honoring parents, loving deeds of kindness, and making peace between one person and another. But the study of the Torah is equal to them all. (Talmud Shabbat 127a).

In Judaism, "the study of Torah can be a means of experiencing God". Reflecting on the contribution of the Amoraim and Tanaim to contemporary Judaism, Professor Jacob Neusner observed:
The rabbi's logical and rational inquiry is not mere logic-chopping. It is a most serious and substantive effort to locate in trivialities the fundamental principles of the revealed will of God to guide and sanctify the most specific and concrete actions in the workaday world .... Here is the mystery of Talmudic Judaism: the alien and remote conviction that the intellect is an instrument not of unbelief and desacralization but of sanctification."

To study the Written Torah and the Oral Torah in light of each other is thus also to study how to study the word of God.

In the study of Torah, the sages formulated and followed various logic
Logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

al and hermeneutical principles. According to David Stern, all Rabbinic hermeneutics rest on two basic axioms:
first, the belief in the omnisignificance of Scripture, in the meaningfulness of its every word, letter, even (according to one famous report) scribal flourish; second, the claim of the essential unity of Scripture as the expression of the single divine will.

These two principles make possible a great variety of interpretations. According to the Talmud,
A single verse has several meanings, but no two verses hold the same meaning. It was taught in the school of R. Ishmael: 'Behold, My word is like fire—declares the Lord—and like a hammer that shatters rock' (Jer 23:29). Just as this hammer produces many sparks (when it strikes the rock), so a single verse has several meanings." (Talmud Sanhedrin 34a).

Observant Jews thus view the Torah as dynamic, because it contains within it a host of interpretations

According to Rabbinic tradition, all valid interpretations of the written Torah were revealed to Moses at Sinai in oral form
Oral Torah
The Oral Torah comprises the legal and interpretative traditions that, according to tradition, were transmitted orally from Mount Sinai, and were not written in the Torah...

, and handed down from teacher to pupil (The oral revelation is in effect coextensive with the Talmud itself). When different rabbis forwarded conflicting interpretations, they sometimes appealed to hermeneutic principles to legitimize their arguments; some rabbis claim that these principles were themselves revealed by God to Moses at Sinai.

Thus, Hillel
Hillel the Elder
Hillel was a famous Jewish religious leader, one of the most important figures in Jewish history. He is associated with the development of the Mishnah and the Talmud...

 called attention to seven commonly used in the interpretation of laws (baraita
Baraita
Baraita designates a tradition in the Jewish oral law not incorporated in the Mishnah. "Baraita" thus refers to teachings "outside" of the six orders of the Mishnah...

 at the beginning of Sifra
Sifra
Sifra is the Halakic midrash to Leviticus. It is frequently quoted in the Talmud, and the study of it followed that of the Mishnah, as appears from Tanḥuma, quoted in Or Zarua, i. 7b. Like Leviticus itself, the midrash is occasionally called "Torat Kohanim" , and in two passages also "Sifra debe...

); R. Ishmael, thirteen (baraita at the beginning of Sifra; this collection is largely an amplification of that of Hillel). Eliezer b. Jose ha-Gelili listed 32, largely used for the exegesis of narrative elements of Torah. All the hermeneutic rules scattered through the Talmudim and Midrashim have been collected by Malbim
Malbim
Meïr Leibush ben Jehiel Michel Weiser , better known by the acronym Malbim , was a rabbi, Hebrew grammar master, and Bible commentator....

 in Ayyelet ha-Shachar, the introduction to his commentary on the Sifra
Sifra
Sifra is the Halakic midrash to Leviticus. It is frequently quoted in the Talmud, and the study of it followed that of the Mishnah, as appears from Tanḥuma, quoted in Or Zarua, i. 7b. Like Leviticus itself, the midrash is occasionally called "Torat Kohanim" , and in two passages also "Sifra debe...

. Nevertheless, R. Ishmael's 13 principles are perhaps the ones most widely known; they constitute an important, and one of Judaism's earliest, contributions to logic
Logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

, hermeneutics, and jurisprudence
Jurisprudence
Jurisprudence is the theory and philosophy of law. Scholars of jurisprudence, or legal theorists , hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions...

. Judah Hadassi
Judah Hadassi
Judah ben Elijah Hadassi was a Karaite Jewish scholar, controversialist, and liturgist who flourished at Constantinople in the middle of the twelfth century...

 incorporated Ishmael's principles into Karaite Judaism in the 12th century. Today R. Ishmael's 13 principles are incorporated into the Jewish prayer book to be read by observant Jews on a daily basis.

Origin of the term "Judaism"


The term Judaism derives from the Latin Iudaismus, derived from the Greek Ιουδαϊσμός Ioudaïsmos, and ultimately from the Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 יהודה, Yehudah, "Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

"; in Hebrew: יַהֲדוּת, Yahadut. It first appears as the Hellenistic Greek iudaismos in 2nd Maccabees in the 2nd century BCE. In the context of the age and period it held the meaning of seeking or forming part of a cultural entity, that of iudea, the Greek derivative of Persian Yehud, and can be compared with hellenismos, meaning acceptance of Hellenic cultural norms (the conflict between iudaismos and hellenismos lay behind the Maccabeean revolt and hence the invention of the term iudaismos). The earliest instance of the term in English, used to mean "the profession or practice of the Jewish religion; the religious system or polity of the Jews", is Robert Fabyan's The newe cronycles of Englande and of Fraunce a 1513. As an English translation of the Latin, the first instance in English is a 1611 translation of the Apocrypha
Apocrypha
The term apocrypha is used with various meanings, including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity", ancient Chinese "revealed texts and objects" and "Christian texts that are not canonical"....

(Deuterocanon in Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 and Orthodox
Orthodox Christianity
The term Orthodox Christianity may refer to:* the Eastern Orthodox Church and its various geographical subdivisions...

 Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

), 2 Macc. ii. 21 "Those that behaved themselues manfully to their honour for Iudaisme."

Distinction between Jews as a people and Judaism


According to Daniel Boyarin
Daniel Boyarin
Daniel Boyarin is an historian of religion. Born in Asbury Park, New Jersey, he holds dual United States and Israeli citizenship. Trained as a Talmudic scholar, in 1990 he was appointed Professor of Talmudic Culture, Departments of Near Eastern Studies and Rhetoric, University of California,...

, the underlying distinction between religion and ethnicity is foreign to Judaism itself, and is one form of the dualism between spirit and flesh that has its origin in Platonic philosophy
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and that permeated Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism was a movement which existed in the Jewish diaspora that sought to establish a Hebraic-Jewish religious tradition within the culture and language of Hellenism...

. Consequently, in his view, Judaism does not fit easily into conventional Western categories, such as religion, ethnicity, or culture. Boyarin suggests that this in part reflects the fact that much of Judaism's more than 3,000-year history predates the rise of Western culture and occurred outside the West (that is, Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, particularly medieval and modern Europe). During this time, Jews have experienced slavery, anarchic and theocratic self-government, conquest, occupation, and exile; in the Diasporas, they have been in contact with and have been influenced by ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Hellenic cultures, as well as modern movements such as the Enlightenment (see Haskalah
Haskalah
Haskalah , the Jewish Enlightenment, was a movement among European Jews in the 18th–19th centuries that advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history...

) and the rise of nationalism, which would bear fruit in the form of a Jewish state in the Levant. They also saw an elite convert to Judaism (the Khazars), only to disappear as the centers of power in the lands once occupied by that elite fell to the people of Rus and then the Mongols. Thus, Boyarin has argued that "Jewishness disrupts the very categories of identity, because it is not national, not genealogical, not religious, but all of these, in dialectical tension."

In contrast to this point of view, practices such as Humanistic Judaism
Humanistic Judaism
Humanistic Judaism is a movement in Judaism that offers a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life. It defines Judaism as the cultural and historical experience of the Jewish people and encourages humanistic and secular Jews to celebrate their Jewish identity by participating in Jewish...

 reject the religious aspects of Judaism, while retaining certain cultural traditions.

Who is a Jew?


According to traditional Jewish Law, a Jew is anyone born of a Jewish mother or converted to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism is a formal act undertaken by a non-Jewish person who wishes to be recognised as a full member of the Jewish community. A Jewish conversion is both a religious act and an expression of association with the Jewish people...

 in accordance with Jewish Law. American Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

 and British Liberal Judaism
Liberal Judaism
Liberal Judaism , is one of the two forms of Progressive Judaism found in the United Kingdom, the other being Reform Judaism. Liberal Judaism, which developed at the beginning of the twentieth century is less conservative than UK Reform Judaism...

 accept the child of one Jewish parent (father or mother) as Jewish if the parents raise the child with a Jewish identity. All mainstream forms of Judaism today are open to sincere converts, although conversion has traditionally been discouraged since the time of the Talmud. The conversion process is evaluated by an authority, and the convert is examined on his or her sincerity and knowledge. Converts are given the name "ben Abraham" or "bat Abraham", (son or daughter of Abraham).

Traditional Judaism maintains that a Jew, whether by birth or conversion, is a Jew forever. Thus a Jew who claims to be an atheist or converts to another religion is still considered by traditional Judaism to be Jewish. According to some sources, the Reform movement has maintained that a Jew who has converted to another religion is no longer a Jew, and the Israeli Government has also taken that stance after Supreme Court cases and statutes. However, the Reform movement has indicated that this is not so cut and dry, and different situations call for consideration and differing actions. For example, Jews who have converted under duress may be permitted to return to Judaism "without any action on their part but their desire to rejoin the Jewish community" and "A proselyte who has become an apostate remains, nevertheless, a Jew". (p. 100-106).

The question of what determines Jewish identity in the State of Israel was given new impetus when, in the 1950s, David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

 requested opinions on mihu Yehudi ("who is a Jew") from Jewish religious authorities and intellectuals worldwide in order to settle citizenship questions. This is still not settled, and occasionally resurfaces in Israeli politics
Politics of Israel
The Israeli system of government is based on parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of government and leader of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the Knesset. The Judiciary is independent of the executive...

.

Jewish demographics


The total number of Jews worldwide is difficult to assess because the definition of "who is a Jew" is problematic; not all Jews identify themselves as Jewish, and some who identify as Jewish are not considered so by other Jews. According to the Jewish Year Book (1901), the global Jewish population in 1900 was around 11 million. The latest available data is from the World Jewish Population Survey of 2002 and the Jewish Year Calendar (2005). In 2002, according to the Jewish Population Survey, there were 13.3 million Jews around the world. The Jewish Year Calendar cites 14.6 million. Jewish population growth is currently near zero percent, with 0.3% growth from 2000 to 2001.

Rabbinic Judaism


Rabbinic Judaism (or in some Christian traditions, Rabbinism) (Hebrew: "Yahadut Rabanit" - יהדות רבנית) has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

. It is characterised by the belief that the Written Torah (Law) cannot be correctly interpreted without reference to the Oral Torah
Oral Torah
The Oral Torah comprises the legal and interpretative traditions that, according to tradition, were transmitted orally from Mount Sinai, and were not written in the Torah...

 and by the voluminous literature specifying what behavior is sanctioned by the law (called halakha
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

, "the way").

The Jewish Enlightenment of the late 18th century resulted in the division of Ashkenazi (Western) Jewry into religious movements or denominations, especially in North America and Anglophone countries. The main denominations today outside Israel (where the situation is rather different) are Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform.
  • Orthodox Judaism
    Orthodox Judaism
    Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

     holds that both the Written and Oral Torah
    Oral Torah
    The Oral Torah comprises the legal and interpretative traditions that, according to tradition, were transmitted orally from Mount Sinai, and were not written in the Torah...

     were divinely revealed to Moses
    Moses
    Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

    , and that the laws within it are binding and unchanging. Orthodox Jews generally consider commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch
    Shulchan Aruch
    The Shulchan Aruch also known as the Code of Jewish Law, is the most authoritative legal code of Judaism. It was authored in Safed, Israel, by Yosef Karo in 1563 and published in Venice two years later...

    (a condensed codification of halakha that largely favored Sephardic traditions) to be the definitive codification of Jewish law. Orthodoxy places a high importance on Maimonides' 13 principles as a definition of Jewish faith.
  • Orthodoxy is often divided into Modern Orthodox Judaism
    Modern Orthodox Judaism
    Modern Orthodox Judaism is a movement within Orthodox Judaism that attempts to synthesize Jewish values and the observance of Jewish law, with the secular, modern world....

     and Haredi Judaism
    Haredi Judaism
    Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

    . Haredi Judaism
    Haredi Judaism
    Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

     is less accommodating to modernity and has less interest in non-Jewish disciplines, and it may be distinguished from Modern Orthodox Judaism
    Modern Orthodox Judaism
    Modern Orthodox Judaism is a movement within Orthodox Judaism that attempts to synthesize Jewish values and the observance of Jewish law, with the secular, modern world....

     in practice by its styles of dress and more stringent practices. Subsets of Haredi Judaism
    Haredi Judaism
    Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

     include: Hasidic Judaism
    Hasidic Judaism
    Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" , is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith...

    , which is rooted in the Kabbalah
    Kabbalah
    Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

     and distinguished by reliance on a Rebbe
    Rebbe
    Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

     or religious teacher; and Sephardic Haredi Judaism, which emerged among Sephardic (Asian and North African) Jews in Israel.

  • Conservative Judaism
    Conservative Judaism
    Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

    , known as Masorti
    Masorti
    The Masorti Movement is the name given to Conservative Judaism in Israel and other countries outside Canada and U.S. Masorti means "traditional" in Hebrew...

     outside the United States and Canada, is characterized by a commitment to traditional Jewish laws and customs, including observance of Shabbat
    Shabbat
    Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

     and kashrut
    Kashrut
    Kashrut is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha is termed kosher in English, from the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew term kashér , meaning "fit" Kashrut (also kashruth or kashrus) is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha (Jewish law) is termed...

    , a deliberately non-fundamentalist teaching of Jewish principles of faith, a positive attitude toward modern culture, and an acceptance of both traditional rabbinic and modern scholarship when considering Jewish religious texts. Conservative Judaism teaches that Jewish law is not static, but has always developed in response to changing conditions. It holds that the Torah is a divine document written by prophets inspired by God and reflecting his will, but rejects the Orthodox position that it was dictated by God to Moses. Conservative Judaism holds that the Oral Law
    Oral Torah
    The Oral Torah comprises the legal and interpretative traditions that, according to tradition, were transmitted orally from Mount Sinai, and were not written in the Torah...

     is divine and normative, but holds that both the Written and Oral Law may be interpreted by the rabbis to reflect modern sensibilities and suit modern conditions.

  • Reform Judaism
    Reform Judaism
    Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

    , called Liberal
    Liberal Judaism
    Liberal Judaism , is one of the two forms of Progressive Judaism found in the United Kingdom, the other being Reform Judaism. Liberal Judaism, which developed at the beginning of the twentieth century is less conservative than UK Reform Judaism...

     or Progressive Judaism
    Progressive Judaism
    Progressive Judaism , is an umbrella term used by strands of Judaism which affiliate to the World Union for Progressive Judaism. They embrace pluralism, modernity, equality and social justice as core values and believe that such values are consistent with a committed Jewish life...

     in many countries, defines Judaism as a religion rather than as a race or culture, rejects most of the ritual and ceremonial laws of the Torah
    Torah
    Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

     while observing moral laws, and emphasizes the ethical call of the Prophets
    Nevi'im
    Nevi'im is the second of the three major sections in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. It falls between the Torah and Ketuvim .Nevi'im is traditionally divided into two parts:...

    . Reform Judaism has developed an egalitarian prayer service in the vernacular (along with Hebrew
    Hebrew language
    Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

     in many cases) and emphasizes personal connection to Jewish tradition.


  • Reconstructionist Judaism
    Reconstructionist Judaism
    Reconstructionist Judaism is a modern American-based Jewish movement based on the ideas of Mordecai Kaplan . The movement views Judaism as a progressively evolving civilization. It originated as a branch of Conservative Judaism, before it splintered...

    , like Reform Judaism, does not hold that Jewish law, as such, requires observance, but unlike Reform, Reconstructionist thought emphasizes the role of the community in deciding what observances to follow.

  • Jewish Renewal
    Jewish Renewal
    Jewish Renewal , is a recent movement in Judaism which endeavors to reinvigorate modern Judaism with mystical, Hasidic, musical and meditative practices...

     is a recent North American movement which focuses on spirituality and social justice, but does not address issues of Jewish law. Men and women participate equally in prayer.

  • Humanistic Judaism
    Humanistic Judaism
    Humanistic Judaism is a movement in Judaism that offers a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life. It defines Judaism as the cultural and historical experience of the Jewish people and encourages humanistic and secular Jews to celebrate their Jewish identity by participating in Jewish...

     is a small non-theistic movement centered in North America and Israel that emphasizes Jewish culture and history as the sources of Jewish identity.

Jewish movements in Israel



Most Jewish Israelis classify themselves as "secular" (hiloni), "traditional" (masorti), "religious" (dati) or Haredi
Haredi Judaism
Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

. The term "secular" is more popular as a self-description among Israeli families of western (European) origin, whose Jewish identity may be a very powerful force in their lives, but who see it as largely independent of traditional religious belief and practice. This portion of the population largely ignores organized religious life, be it of the official Israeli rabbinate (Orthodox) or of the liberal movements common to diaspora Judaism (Reform, Conservative).

The term "traditional" (masorti) is most common as a self-description among Israeli families of "eastern" origin (i.e., the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa). This term, as commonly used, has nothing to do with the official Masorti
Masorti
The Masorti Movement is the name given to Conservative Judaism in Israel and other countries outside Canada and U.S. Masorti means "traditional" in Hebrew...

 (Conservative) movement. There is a great deal of ambiguity in the ways "secular" and "traditional" are used in Israel: they often overlap, and they cover an extremely wide range in terms of ideology and religious observance. The term "Orthodox" is not popular in Israeli discourse, although the percentage of Jews who come under that category is far greater than in the diaspora
Jewish diaspora
The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the Galut גלות , or 'exile', of the Jews from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Iudaea and later emigration from wider Eretz Israel....

. What would be called "Orthodox" in the diaspora includes what is commonly called dati (religious) or haredi (ultra-Orthodox) in Israel. The former term includes what is called "Religious Zionism
Religious Zionism
Religious Zionism is an ideology that combines Zionism and Jewish religious faith...

" or the "National Religious" community, as well as what has become known over the past decade or so as haredi-leumi (nationalist
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 haredi), or "Hardal", which combines a largely haredi lifestyle with nationalist ideology. (Some people, in Yiddish, also refer to observant Orthodox Jews as frum, as opposed to frei (more liberal Jews)).

Haredi applies to a populace that can be roughly divided into three separate groups along both ethnic and ideological lines: (1) "Lithuanian" (non-hasidic) haredim of Ashkenazic origin; (2) Hasidic haredim of Ashkenazic origin; and (3) Sephardic haredim.

Alternative Judaism



Karaite Judaism
Karaite Judaism
Karaite Judaism or Karaism is a Jewish movement characterized by the recognition of the Tanakh alone as its supreme legal authority in Halakhah, as well as in theology...

 defines itself as the remnants of the non-Rabbinic Jewish sects of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 period, such as the Sadducees
Sadducees
The Sadducees were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Ancient Israel during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BC through the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The sect was identified by Josephus with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society...

. The Karaites ("Scripturalists") accept only the Hebrew Bible and what they view as the Peshat
Peshat
Peshat is one of four classical methods of Jewish biblical exegesis used by Rabbis and Jewish bible scholars in reading the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Tanakh. Peshat is part of a group of exegetical methods known together as Pardes...

 ("simple" meaning); they do not accept non-biblical writings as authoritative. Some European Karaites do not see themselves as part of the Jewish community at all, although most do. The Samaritan
Samaritan
The Samaritans are an ethnoreligious group of the Levant. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism...

s, a very small community located entirely around Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 in the Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

/Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

 region of the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 and in Holon, near Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

 in Israel, regard themselves as the descendants of the Israelites of the Iron Age kingdom of Israel. Their religious practices are those of Judaism, but they regard only the written Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 as authoritative scripture (with a special regard also for the Book of Joshua
Book of Joshua
The Book of Joshua is the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible and of the Old Testament. Its 24 chapters tell of the entry of the Israelites into Canaan, their conquest and division of the land under the leadership of Joshua, and of serving God in the land....

).

Jewish ethics



Jewish ethics may be guided by halakhic traditions, by other moral principles, or by central Jewish virtues. Jewish ethical practice is typically understood to be marked by values such as justice, truth, peace, loving-kindness (chesed
Chesed
The Hebrew noun khesed or chesed is the Hebrew word for "kindness." It is also commonly translated as "loving-kindness," or "love." Love is a central Jewish value, and leads to many particular commandments. Chesed is central to Jewish ethics and Jewish theology...

), compassion, humility, and self-respect. Specific Jewish ethical practices include practices of charity (tzedakah
Tzedakah
Tzedakah or Ṣ'daqah in Classical Hebrew is a Hebrew word commonly translated as charity, though it is based on the Hebrew word meaning righteousness, fairness or justice...

) and refraining from negative speech (lashon hara
Lashon hara
The Hebrew term lashon hara is a term for gossip. It also refers to the prohibition in Jewish Law of telling gossip....

). Proper ethical practices regarding sexuality and many other issues are subjects of dispute among Jews.

Prayers




Traditionally, Jews recite prayers three times daily, Shacharit
Shacharit
Shacharit is the the daily morning Tefillah of the Jewish people, one of the three times there is prayer each day.Shacharit is said to have been established by the patriarch Abraham when he prayed in the morning...

, Mincha
Mincha
Mincha, מנחה is the afternoon prayer service in Judaism.-Etymology:The name "Mincha" is derived from the meal offering that accompanied each sacrifice.-Origin:...

, and Ma'ariv with a fourth prayer, Mussaf
Mussaf
Mussaf is an additional service that is recited on Shabbat, Yom Tov, Chol Hamoed, and Rosh Chodesh. The service, which is traditionally combined with the Shacharit in synagogues, is considered to be additional to the regular services of Shacharit, Mincha, and Maariv.During the days of the Holy...

 added on Shabbat
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

 and holidays
Jewish holiday
Jewish holidays are days observed by Jews as holy or secular commemorations of important events in Jewish history. In Hebrew, Jewish holidays and festivals, depending on their nature, may be called yom tov or chag or ta'anit...

. At the heart of each service is the Amidah
Amidah
The Amidah , also called the Shmoneh Esreh , is the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy. This prayer, among others, is found in the siddur, the traditional Jewish prayer book...

or Shemoneh Esrei. Another key prayer in many services is the declaration of faith, the Shema Yisrael
Shema Yisrael
Shema Yisrael are the first two words of a section of the Torah that is a centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services...

(or Shema). The Shema is the recitation of a verse from the Torah (Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch...

 6:4): Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad—"Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God! The Lord is One!"

Most of the prayers in a traditional Jewish service can be recited in solitary prayer, although communal prayer is preferred. Communal prayer requires a quorum
Quorum
A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly necessary to conduct the business of that group...

 of ten adult Jews, called a minyan
Minyan
A minyan in Judaism refers to the quorum of ten Jewish adults required for certain religious obligations. According to many non-Orthodox streams of Judaism adult females count in the minyan....

. In nearly all Orthodox and a few Conservative circles, only male Jews are counted toward a minyan; most Conservative Jews and members of other Jewish denominations count female Jews as well.

In addition to prayer services, observant traditional Jews recite prayers and benedictions throughout the day when performing various acts. Prayers are recited upon waking up in the morning
Modeh ani
Modeh Ani or Modeh is a Jewish prayer that observant Jews recite daily upon waking, while still in bed.-Text:*Hebrew: מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקים שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה, רבה אמונתך....

, before eating or drinking different foods, after eating a meal
Birkat Hamazon
Birkat Hamazon or Birkath Hammazon, , known in English as the Grace After Meals, , is a set of Hebrew blessings that Jewish Law prescribes following a meal that includes bread or matzoh made from one or all of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt...

, and so on.

The approach to prayer varies among the Jewish denominations. Differences can include the texts of prayers, the frequency of prayer, the number of prayers recited at various religious events, the use of musical instruments and choral music, and whether prayers are recited in the traditional liturgical languages or the vernacular. In general, Orthodox and Conservative congregations adhere most closely to tradition, and Reform and Reconstructionist synagogues are more likely to incorporate translations and contemporary writings in their services. Also, in most Conservative synagogues, and all Reform and Reconstructionist congregations, women participate in prayer services on an equal basis
Egalitarianism
Egalitarianism is a trend of thought that favors equality of some sort among moral agents, whether persons or animals. Emphasis is placed upon the fact that equality contains the idea of equity of quality...

 with men, including roles traditionally filled only by men, such as reading from the Torah
Torah reading
Torah reading is a Jewish religious ritual that involves the public reading of a set of passages from a Torah scroll. The term often refers to the entire ceremony of removing the Torah scroll from the ark, chanting the appropriate excerpt with special cantillation, and returning the scroll to...

. In addition, many Reform temples use musical accompaniment such as organs and mixed choirs.

Religious clothing



A kippah
Kippah
A kippah or kipa , also known as a yarmulke , kapele , is a hemispherical or platter-shaped head cover, usually made of cloth, often worn by Orthodox Jewish men to fulfill the customary requirement that their head be covered at all times, and sometimes worn by both men and, less frequently, women...

(Hebrew: כִּפָּה, plural kippot; Yiddish: יאַרמלקע, yarmulke) is a slightly rounded brimless skullcap worn by many Jews while praying, eating, reciting blessings, or studying Jewish religious texts, and at all times by some Jewish men. In Orthodox communities, only men wear kippot; in non-Orthodox communities, some women also wear kippot. Kippot range in size from a small round beanie that covers only the back of the head, to a large, snug cap that covers the whole crown.

Tzitzit
Tzitzit
The Hebrew noun tzitzit is the name for specially knotted ritual fringes worn by observant Jews. Tzitzit are attached to the four corners of the tallit and tallit katan.-Etymology:The word may derive from the semitic root N-TZ-H...

(Hebrew: צִיציִת) (Ashkenazi pronunciation
Ashkenazi Hebrew
Ashkenazi Hebrew , is the pronunciation system for Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew favored for liturgical use by Ashkenazi Jewish practice. Its phonology was influenced by languages with which it came into contact, such as Yiddish, German, and various Slavic languages...

: tzitzis) are special knotted "fringes" or "tassels" found on the four corners of the tallit
Tallit
A tallit pl. tallitot is a Jewish prayer shawl. The tallit is worn over the outer clothes during the morning prayers on weekdays, Shabbat and holidays...

(Hebrew: טַלִּית) (Ashkenazi pronunciation: tallis), or prayer shawl
Shawl
A shawl is a simple item of clothing, loosely worn over the shoulders, upper body and arms, and sometimes also over the head. It is usually a rectangular or square piece of cloth, that is often folded to make a triangle but can also be triangular in shape...

. The tallit is worn by Jewish men and some Jewish women during the prayer service. Customs vary regarding when a Jew begins wearing a tallit. In the Sephardi community, boys wear a tallit from bar mitzvah age. In some Ashkenazi communities it is customary to wear one only after marriage. A tallit katan (small tallit) is a fringed garment worn under the clothing throughout the day. In some Orthodox circles, the fringes are allowed to hang freely outside the clothing.

Tefillin
Tefillin
Tefillin also called phylacteries are a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah, which are worn by observant Jews during weekday morning prayers. Although "tefillin" is technically the plural form , it is loosely used as a singular as...

 (Hebrew: תְפִלִּין), known in English as phylacteries (from the Greek word φυλακτήριον, meaning safeguard or amulet), are two square leather boxes containing biblical verses, attached to the forehead and wound around the left arm by leather straps. They are worn during weekday morning prayer by observant Jewish men and some Jewish women.

A kittel
Kittel
right|180pxA kittel, also spelled kitl, coat’) is a white robe which serves as a burial shroud for male Jews. It is also worn on special occasions by Ashkenazi Jews. In western Europe this garment is called a Sargenes. The word Sargenes is related to the Old French Serge as well as Latin Serica...

(Yiddish: קיטל), a white knee-length overgarment, is worn by prayer leaders and some observant traditional Jews on the High Holidays. It is traditional for the head of the household to wear a kittel at the Passover seder in some communities, and some grooms wear one under the wedding canopy. Jewish males are buried in a tallit and sometimes also a kittel which are part of the tachrichim
Tachrichim
Tachrichim are traditional simple white burial garments, usually made from 100% pure linen, in which Jews are dressed by the Chevra Kadisha for burial after undergoing a taharah ....

(burial garments).

Jewish holidays



Jewish holidays are special days in the Jewish calendar, which celebrate moments in Jewish history, as well as central themes in the relationship between God and the world, such as creation, revelation
Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

, and redemption
Salvation
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

.

Shabbat


Shabbat
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

, the weekly day of rest lasting from shortly before sundown on Friday night to nightfall Saturday night, commemorates God's day of rest after six days of creation. It plays a pivotal role in Jewish practice and is governed by a large corpus of religious law. At sundown on Friday, the woman of the house welcomes the Shabbat by lighting two or more candles and reciting a blessing. The evening meal begins with the Kiddush, a blessing recited aloud over a cup of wine, and the Mohtzi, a blessing recited over the bread. It is customary to have challah
Challah
Challah also khale ,, berches , barkis , bergis , chałka , vánočka , zopf and kitke , is a special braided bread eaten on...

, two braided loaves of bread, on the table. During Shabbat Jews are forbidden to engage in any activity that falls under 39 categories of melakhah
39 categories of activity prohibited on Shabbat
The commandment to keep Shabbat as a day of rest is repeated many times in the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. The commandment is usually expressed in English in terms of refraining from the doing of work on Shabbat, but the Hebrew term used in the Bible is melakha , which has a slightly different...

, translated literally as "work". In fact the activities banned on the Sabbath are not "work" in the usual sense: They include such actions as lighting a fire, writing, using money and carrying in the public domain. The prohibition of lighting a fire has been extended in the modern era to driving a car, which involves burning fuel, and using electricity.

Three pilgrimage festivals



Jewish holy days (chaggim), celebrate landmark events in Jewish history, such as the Exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah, and sometimes mark the change of seasons and transitions in the agricultural cycle. The three major festivals, Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot, are called "regalim" (derived from the Hebrew word "regel", or foot). On the three regalim, it was customary for the Israelites to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices in the Temple.
  • Passover
    Passover
    Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

     (Pesach) is a week-long holiday beginning on the evening of the 14th day of Nisan
    Nisan
    Nisan is the first month of the ecclesiastical year and the seventh month of the civil year, on the Hebrew calendar. The name of the month is Babylonian; in the Torah it is called the month of the Aviv, referring to the month in which barley was ripe. It is a spring month of 30 days...

     (the first month in the Hebrew calendar), that commemorates the Exodus from Egypt. Outside Israel, Passover is celebrated for eight days. In ancient times, it coincided with the barley harvest. It is the only holiday that centers on home-service, the Seder
    Passover Seder
    The Passover Seder is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. It is conducted on the evenings of the 14th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, and on the 15th by traditionally observant Jews living outside Israel. This corresponds to late March or April in...

    . Leavened
    Leavening agent
    A leavening agent is any one of a number of substances used in doughs and batters that cause a foaming action which lightens and softens the finished product...

     products (chametz
    Chametz
    Chametz, also Chometz, and other spellings transliterated from , are leavened foods that are forbidden on the Jewish holiday of Passover. According to Jewish law, Jews may not own, eat or benefit from chametz during Passover...

    ) are removed from the house prior to the holiday, and are not consumed throughout the week. Homes are thoroughly cleaned to ensure no bread or bread by-products remain, and a symbolic burning of the last vestiges of chametz is conducted on the morning of the Seder. Matzo
    Matzo
    Matzo or matzah is an unleavened bread traditionally eaten by Jews during the week-long Passover holiday, when eating chametz—bread and other food which is made with leavened grain—is forbidden according to Jewish law. Currently, the most ubiquitous type of Matzo is the traditional Ashkenazic...

     is eaten instead of bread.
  • Shavuot
    Shavuot
    The festival of is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan ....

     ("Pentecost" or "Feast of Weeks") celebrates the revelation of the Torah
    Torah
    Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

     to the Israelite
    Israelite
    According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

    s on Mount Sinai. Also known as the Festival of Bikurim, or first fruits, it coincided in biblical times with the wheat harvest. Shavuot customs include all-night study marathons known as Tikkun Leil Shavuot, eating dairy foods (cheesecake and blintzes are special favorites), reading the Book of Ruth, decorating homes and synagogues with greenery, and wearing white clothing, symbolizing purity.
  • Sukkot
    Sukkot
    Sukkot is a Biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei . It is one of the three biblically mandated festivals Shalosh regalim on which Hebrews were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.The holiday lasts seven days...

     ("Tabernacles" or "The Festival of Booths") commemorates the Israelites' forty years of wandering through the desert on their way to the Promised Land. It is celebrated through the construction of temporary booths called sukkot (sing. sukkah
    Sukkah
    A sukkah is a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot. It is topped with branches and often well decorated with autumnal, harvest or Judaic themes...

    ) that represent the temporary shelters of the Israelites during their wandering. It coincides with the fruit harvest, and marks the end of the agricultural cycle. Jews around the world eat in sukkot for seven days and nights. Sukkot concludes with Shemini Atzeret
    Shemini Atzeret
    Shemini Atzeret is a Jewish holiday. It is celebrated on the 22nd day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. In the Diaspora, an additional day is celebrated, the second day being separately referred to as Simchat Torah...

    , where Jews begin to pray for rain and Simchat Torah
    Simchat Torah
    Simchat Torah or Simḥath Torah is a celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle...

    , "Rejoicing of the Torah", a holiday which marks reaching the end of the Torah reading cycle and beginning all over again. The occasion is celebrated with singing and dancing with the Torah scrolls. Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are technically considered to be a separate holiday and not a part of Sukkot.

High Holy Days



The High Holidays (Yamim Noraim or "Days of Awe") revolve around judgment and forgiveness.
  • Rosh Hashanah
    Rosh Hashanah
    Rosh Hashanah , , is the Jewish New Year. It is the first of the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora'im which occur in the autumn...

    , (also Yom Ha-Zikkaron or "Day of Remembrance", and Yom Teruah, or "Day of the Sounding of the Shofar
    Shofar
    A shofar is a horn, traditionally that of a ram, used for Jewish religious purposes. Shofar-blowing is incorporated in synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.Shofar come in a variety of sizes.- Bible and rabbinic literature :...

    "). Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year (literally, "head of the year"), although it falls on the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar
    Hebrew calendar
    The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

    , Tishri. Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the 10-day period of atonement leading up to Yom Kippur, during which Jews are commanded to search their souls and make amends for sins committed, intentionally or not, throughout the year. Holiday customs include blowing the shofar, or ram's horn, in the synagogue, eating apples and honey, and saying blessings over a variety of symbolic foods, such as pomegranates.
  • Yom Kippur
    Yom Kippur
    Yom Kippur , also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue...

    , ("Day of Atonement") is the holiest day of the Jewish year. It is a day of communal fasting and praying for forgiveness for one's sins. Observant Jews spend the entire day in the synagogue, sometimes with a short break in the afternoon, reciting prayers from a special holiday prayerbook called a "Machzor". Many non-religious Jews make a point of attending synagogue services and fasting on Yom Kippur. On the eve of Yom Kippur, before candles are lit, a prefast meal, the "seuda mafseket", is eaten. Synagogue services on the eve of Yom Kippur begin with the Kol Nidre prayer. It is customary to wear white on Yom Kippur, especially for Kol Nidre, and leather shoes are not worn. The following day, prayers are held from morning to evening. The final prayer service, called "Ne'ilah", ends with a long blast of the shofar.

Purim




Purim
Purim
Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman, a story recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther .Purim is celebrated annually according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th...

 (Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

: Pûrîm "lots
Cleromancy
Cleromancy is a form of divination using sortition, casting of lots, or casting bones or stones, in which an outcome is determined by means that normally would be considered random, such as the rolling of dice, but are sometimes believed to reveal the will of God, or other supernatural entities.-In...

") is a joyous Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Persian Jews
Persian Jews
Persian Jews , are Jews historically associated with Iran, traditionally known as Persia in Western sources.Judaism is one of the oldest religions practiced in Iran. The Book of Esther contains some references to the experiences of Jews in Persia...

 from the plot of the evil Haman
Haman (Bible)
Haman is the main antagonist in the Book of Esther, who, according to Old Testament tradition, was a 5th Century BC noble and vizier of the Persian empire under King Ahasuerus, traditionally identified as Artaxerxes II...

, who sought to exterminate
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 them, as recorded in the biblical Book of Esther
Book of Esther
The Book of Esther is a book in the Ketuvim , the third section of the Jewish Tanakh and is part of the Christian Old Testament. The Book of Esther or the Megillah is the basis for the Jewish celebration of Purim...

. It is characterized by public recitation of the Book of Esther, mutual gifts of food and drink, charity
Alms
Alms or almsgiving is a religious rite which, in general, involves giving materially to another as an act of religious virtue.It exists in a number of religions. In Philippine Regions, alms are given as charity to benefit the poor. In Buddhism, alms are given by lay people to monks and nuns to...

 to the poor, and a celebratory meal (Esther 9:22). Other customs include drinking wine, eating special pastries called hamantashen, dressing up in masks and costumes, and organizing carnivals and parties.

Purim is celebrated annually on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar
Adar
Adar is the sixth month of the civil year and the twelfth month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar. It is a winter month of 29 days...

, which occurs in February or March of the Gregorian calendar.

Hanukkah


Hanukkah
Hanukkah
Hanukkah , also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE...

  also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight day Jewish holiday that starts on the 25th day of Kislev
Kislev
Kislev Kislev Tiberian ; also Chislev is the third month of the civil year and the ninth month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar....

 (Hebrew calendar
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

). The festival is observed in Jewish homes by the kindling of lights on each of the festival's eight nights, one on the first night, two on the second night and so on.

The holiday was called Hanukkah (meaning "dedication") because it marks the re-dedication of the Temple after its desecration by Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

. Spiritually, Hanukkah commemorates the "Miracle of the Oil". According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

 following the victory of the Maccabees
Maccabees
The Maccabees were a Jewish rebel army who took control of Judea, which had been a client state of the Seleucid Empire. They founded the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 164 BCE to 63 BCE, reasserting the Jewish religion, expanding the boundaries of the Land of Israel and reducing the influence...

 over the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

, there was only enough consecrated oil
Oil
An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and does not mix with water but may mix with other oils and organic solvents. This general definition includes vegetable oils, volatile essential oils, petrochemical oils, and synthetic oils....

 to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days - which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate new oil.

Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Bible and was never considered a major holiday in Judaism, but it has become much more visible and widely celebrated in modern times, mainly because it falls around the same time as Christmas and has national Jewish overtones that have been emphasized since the establishment of the State of Israel.

Other holidays


Tisha B'Av
Tisha B'Av
|Av]],") is an annual fast day in Judaism, named for the ninth day of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar. The fast commemorates the destruction of both the First Temple and Second Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred about 655 years apart, but on the same Hebrew calendar date...

 ( or , "the Ninth of Av") is a holiday of mourning and fasting commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

s and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain
Alhambra decree
The Alhambra Decree was an edict issued on 31 March 1492 by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain ordering the expulsion of Jews from the Kingdom of Spain and its territories and possessions by 31 July of that year.The edict was formally revoked on 16 December 1968, following the Second...

.

The modern holidays of Yom Ha-shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha'atzmaut
Yom Ha'atzmaut
Yom Ha'atzmaut commemorates Israel's declaration of Independence in 1948. It is celebrated on 5 Iyar according to the Hebrew calendar. Yom Ha'atzmaut is preceded by Yom Hazikaron, the Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day.-History:...

 (Israeli Independence Day) commemorate the horrors of the Holocaust and the achievement of Israel independence, respectively.

Torah readings



The core of festival and Shabbat
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

 prayer services is the public reading of the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

, along with connected readings from the other books of the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

, called Haftarah
Haftarah
The haftarah or haftoroh is a series of selections from the books of Nevi'im of the Hebrew Bible that is publicly read in synagogue as part of Jewish religious practice...

. Over the course of a year, the whole Torah is read, with the cycle starting over in the autumn, on Simchat Torah
Simchat Torah
Simchat Torah or Simḥath Torah is a celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle...

.

Synagogues and religious buildings



Synagogues are Jewish houses of prayer and study. They usually contain separate rooms for prayer (the main sanctuary), smaller rooms for study, and often an area for community or educational use. There is no set blueprint for synagogues and the architectural shapes and interior designs of synagogues vary greatly. The Reform movement mostly refer to their synagogues as temples. Some traditional features of a synagogue are:
  • The ark
    Ark (synagogue)
    The Torah ark or ark in a synagogue is known in Hebrew as the Aron Kodesh by the Ashkenazim and as the Hekhál amongst most Sefardim. It is generally a receptacle, or ornamental closet, which contains each synagogue's Torah scrolls...

     (called aron ha-kodesh by Ashkenazim
    Ashkenazi Jews
    Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...

     and hekhal by Sephardim
    Sephardi Jews
    Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

    ) where the Torah
    Torah
    Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

     scrolls are kept (the ark is often closed with an ornate curtain (parochet
    Parochet
    Parochet is the curtain on the front of the Aron Kodesh in a synagogue that covers the Sifrei Torah...

    ) outside or inside the ark doors);
  • The elevated reader's platform (called bimah
    Bimah
    A bimah A bimah A bimah (among Ashkenazim, derived from Hebrew בּמה , almemar (from Arabic al-minbar) or tebah (among Sephardim) is the elevated area or platform in a Jewish synagogue which is intended to serve the place where the person reading aloud from the Torah stands during the Torah reading...

    by Ashkenazim and tebah by Sephardim), where the Torah is read (and services are conducted in Sephardi synagogues);
  • The eternal light
    Sanctuary lamp
    A sanctuary lamp, altar lamp, everlasting light or eternal flame is a light that shines before the altar of sanctuaries in many denominations of Jewish and Christian places of worship. Prescribed in ] 27:20-21] of the Hebrew Bible, this icon has taken on different meanings in each of the religions...

     (ner tamid), a continually lit lamp or lantern used as a reminder of the constantly lit menorah of the Temple in Jerusalem
    Temple in Jerusalem
    The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

  • The pulpit, or amud, a lectern facing the Ark where the hazzan
    Hazzan
    A hazzan or chazzan is a Jewish cantor, a musician trained in the vocal arts who helps lead the congregation in songful prayer.There are many rules relating to how a cantor should lead services, but the idea of a cantor as a paid professional does not exist in classical rabbinic sources...

     or prayer leader stands while praying.


In addition to synagogues, other buildings of significance in Judaism include yeshiva
Yeshiva
Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

s, or institutions of Jewish learning, and mikvah
Mikvah
Mikveh is a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism...

s, which are ritual baths.

Dietary laws: Kashrut


The Jewish dietary laws are known as kashrut
Kashrut
Kashrut is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha is termed kosher in English, from the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew term kashér , meaning "fit" Kashrut (also kashruth or kashrus) is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha (Jewish law) is termed...

. Food prepared in accordance with them is termed kosher
Kosher foods
Kosher foods are those that conform to the regulations of the Jewish Halakhic law framework, kosher meaning fit or allowed to be eaten. A list of some kosher foods are found in the book of Leviticus 11:1-47. There are also certain kosher rules found there...

, and food that is not kosher is also known as treifah or treif. People who observe these laws are colloquially said to be "keeping kosher".

Many of the laws apply to animal-based foods. For example, in order to be considered kosher, mammals must have split hooves and chew their cud. The pig
Pig
A pig is any of the animals in the genus Sus, within the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates. Pigs include the domestic pig, its ancestor the wild boar, and several other wild relatives...

 is arguably the most well-known example of a non-kosher animal. Although it has split hooves, it does not chew its cud. For seafood
Seafood
Seafood is any form of marine life regarded as food by humans. Seafoods include fish, molluscs , crustaceans , echinoderms . Edible sea plants, such as some seaweeds and microalgae, are also seafood, and are widely eaten around the world, especially in Asia...

 to be kosher, the animal must have fins
FINS
FINS is a network protocol used by Omron PLCs, over different physical networks like Ethernet, Controller Link, DeviceNet and RS-232C....

 and scales
Scale (zoology)
In most biological nomenclature, a scale is a small rigid plate that grows out of an animal's skin to provide protection. In lepidopteran species, scales are plates on the surface of the insect wing, and provide coloration...

. Certain types of seafood, such as shellfish
Shellfish
Shellfish is a culinary and fisheries term for exoskeleton-bearing aquatic invertebrates used as food, including various species of molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms. Although most kinds of shellfish are harvested from saltwater environments, some kinds are found only in freshwater...

, crustaceans, and eel
Eel
Eels are an order of fish, which consists of four suborders, 20 families, 111 genera and approximately 800 species. Most eels are predators...

s, are therefore considered non-kosher. Concerning birds, a list of non-kosher species is given in the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

. The exact translations
Translations
Translations is a three-act play by Irish playwright Brian Friel written in 1980. It is set in Baile Beag , a small village at the heart of 19th century agricultural Ireland...

 of many of the species have not survived, and some non-kosher birds' identities are no longer certain. However, traditions exist about the kashrut status of a few birds. For example, both chickens and turkeys are permitted in most communities. Other types of animals, such as amphibians, reptiles, and most insects, are prohibited altogether.

In addition to the requirement that the species be considered kosher, meat and poultry (but not fish) must come from a healthy animal slaughtered in a process known as shechitah. Without the proper slaughtering
Animal slaughter
Slaughter is the term used to describe the killing and butchering of animals, usually for food. Commonly it refers to killing and butchering of domestic livestock ....

 practices even an otherwise kosher animal will be rendered treif. The slaughtering process is intended to be quick and relatively painless to the animal. Forbidden parts of animals include the blood
Blood
Blood is a specialized bodily fluid in animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells....

, some fat
Fat
Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

s, and the area in and around the sciatic nerve
Sciatic nerve
The sciatic nerve is a large nerve fiber in humans and other animals. It begins in the lower back and runs through the buttock and down the lower limb...

.

Jewish law also forbids the consumption of meat and dairy products together. The waiting period between eating meat and eating dairy varies by the order in which they are consumed and by community, and can extend for up to six hours. Based on the Biblical injunction against cooking a kid in its mother's milk, this rule is mostly derived from the Oral Torah
Oral Torah
The Oral Torah comprises the legal and interpretative traditions that, according to tradition, were transmitted orally from Mount Sinai, and were not written in the Torah...

, the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 and Rabbinic law. Chicken and other kosher birds are considered the same as meat under the laws of kashrut, but the prohibition is Rabbinic, not Biblical.

The use of dishes, serving utensils, and oven
Oven
An oven is a thermally insulated chamber used for the heating, baking or drying of a substance. It is most commonly used for cooking. Kilns, and furnaces are special-purpose ovens...

s may make food treif that would otherwise be kosher. Utensils that have been used to prepare non-kosher food, or dishes that have held meat and are now used for dairy products, render the food treif under certain conditions.

Furthermore, all Orthodox
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 and some Conservative
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

 authorities forbid the consumption of processed grape
Grape
A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

 products made by non-Jews, due to ancient pagan practices of using wine in rituals. Some Conservative authorities permit wine and grape juice made without rabbinic supervision.

The Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 does not give specific reasons for most of the laws of kashrut. However, a number of explanations have been offered, including maintaining ritual purity, teaching impulse control, encouraging obedience to God, improving health, reducing cruelty to animals
Cruelty to animals
Cruelty to animals, also called animal abuse or animal neglect, is the infliction of suffering or harm upon non-human animals, for purposes other than self-defense. More narrowly, it can be harm for specific gain, such as killing animals for food or for their fur, although opinions differ with...

 and preserving the distinctness of the Jewish community. The various categories of dietary laws may have developed for different reasons, and some may exist for multiple reasons. For example, people are forbidden from consuming the blood of birds and mammals because, according to the Torah, this is where animal souls are contained. In contrast, the Torah forbids Israelites from eating non-kosher species because "they are unclean". The Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

 describes sparks of holiness that are released by the act of eating kosher foods, but are too tightly bound in non-kosher foods to be released by eating.

Survival concerns supersede all the laws of kashrut, as they do for most halakhot
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

.

Laws of ritual purity


The Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

 describes circumstances in which a person who is tahor or ritually pure may become tamei or ritually impure. Some of these circumstances are contact with human corpses or graves
Grave (burial)
A grave is a location where a dead body is buried. Graves are usually located in special areas set aside for the purpose of burial, such as graveyards or cemeteries....

, seminal flux, vaginal flux, menstruation
Menstruation
Menstruation is the shedding of the uterine lining . It occurs on a regular basis in sexually reproductive-age females of certain mammal species. This article focuses on human menstruation.-Overview:...

, and contact with people who have become impure from any of these. In Rabbinic Judaism, Kohanim, members of the hereditary caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

 that served as priests in the time of the Temple, are mostly restricted from entering grave sites and touching dead bodies.

Family purity


An important subcategory of the ritual purity laws relates to the segregation of menstruating women. These laws are also known as niddah
Niddah
Niddah is a Hebrew term describing a woman during menstruation, or a woman who has menstruated and not yet completed the associated requirement of immersion in a mikveh ....

, literally "separation", or family purity. Vital aspects of halakha for traditionally observant Jews, they are not usually followed by Jews in liberal denominations.

Especially in Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

, the Biblical laws are augmented by Rabbinical injunctions. For example, the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 mandates that a woman in her normal menstrual period must abstain from sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

 for seven days. A woman whose menstruation is prolonged must continue to abstain for seven more days after bleeding has stopped. The Rabbis conflated ordinary niddah with this extended menstrual period, known in the Torah as zavah
Zavah
The Hebrew term zavah is a state of ritual impurity applicable to females arising from vaginal blood discharges not during the usually anticipated menstrual cycle....

, and mandated that a woman may not have sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

 with her husband
Husband
A husband is a male participant in a marriage. The rights and obligations of the husband regarding his spouse and others, and his status in the community and in law, vary between cultures and has varied over time...

 from the time she begins her menstrual
Menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle is the scientific term for the physiological changes that can occur in fertile women for the purpose of sexual reproduction. This article focuses on the human menstrual cycle....

 flow until seven days after it ends. In addition, Rabbinical law forbids the husband
Husband
A husband is a male participant in a marriage. The rights and obligations of the husband regarding his spouse and others, and his status in the community and in law, vary between cultures and has varied over time...

 from touching or sharing a bed with his wife during this period. Afterwards, purification can occur in a ritual bath called a mikveh.

Traditional Ethiopian Jews keep menstruating women in separate huts and, similar to Karaite practice
Karaite Judaism
Karaite Judaism or Karaism is a Jewish movement characterized by the recognition of the Tanakh alone as its supreme legal authority in Halakhah, as well as in theology...

, do not allow menstruating women into their temples because of a temple's special sanctity. Emigration to Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and the influence of other Jewish denominations have led to Ethiopian Jews adopting more normative Jewish practices.

Life-cycle events


Life-cycle events, or rites of passage
Rites of Passage
Rites of Passage is an African American History program sponsored by the Stamford, Connecticut US public schools. The program consists of an extra day of schooling on Saturday for 12 weeks, service projects, and a culminating educational trip to Gambia and Senegal. Gambia and Senegal are the...

, occur throughout a Jew's life that serve to strengthen Jewish identity and bind him/her to the entire community.
  • Brit milah
    Brit milah
    The brit milah is a Jewish religious circumcision ceremony performed on 8-day old male infants by a mohel. The brit milah is followed by a celebratory meal .-Biblical references:...

     - Welcoming male babies into the covenant through the rite of circumcision
    Circumcision
    Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin from the penis. The word "circumcision" comes from Latin and ....

     on their eighth day of life. The baby boy is also given his Hebrew name in the ceremony. A naming ceremony intended as a parallel ritual for girls, named zeved habat
    Zeved habat
    Zeved habat , is a Jewish naming ceremony for newborn girls.-Ashkenazi custom:In the Ashkenazi community, namegiving ceremonies for newborn girls were not widespread and often limited to the father announcing the baby's name in the synagogue on the Shabbat, Monday, Thursday or other occasion when...

    or brit bat, enjoys limited popularity.
  • Bar mitzvah and Bat mitzvah - This passage from childhood to adulthood takes place when a female Jew is twelve and a male Jew is thirteen years old among Orthodox and some Conservative congregations. In the Reform movement, both girls and boys have their bat/bar mitzvah at age thirteen. This is often commemorated by having the new adults, male only in the Orthodox tradition, lead the congregation in prayer and publicly read a "portion" of the Torah.
  • Marriage - Marriage is an extremely important lifecycle event. A wedding takes place under a chupah, or wedding canopy, which symbolizes a happy house. At the end of the ceremony, the groom breaks a glass with his foot, symbolizing the continuous mourning for the destruction of the Temple, and the scattering of the Jewish people.
  • Death and Mourning
    Bereavement in Judaism
    Bereavement in Judaism is a combination of minhag and mitzvah derived from Judaism's classical Torah and rabbinic texts...

     - Judaism has a multi-staged mourning
    Mourning
    Mourning is, in the simplest sense, synonymous with grief over the death of someone. The word is also used to describe a cultural complex of behaviours in which the bereaved participate or are expected to participate...

     practice. The first stage is called the shiva (literally "seven", observed for one week) during which it is traditional to sit at home and be comforted by friends and family, the second is the shloshim (observed for one month) and for those who have lost one of their parents, there is a third stage, avelut yud bet chodesh, which is observed for eleven months.

Classical priesthood


The role of the priesthood in Judaism has significantly diminished since the destruction of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 in 70 CE, when priests attended to the Temple and sacrifices. The priesthood is an inherited position, and although priests no longer have any but ceremonial duties, they are still honored in many Jewish communities. Many Orthodox Jewish communities believe that they will be needed again for a future Third Temple and need to remain in readiness for future duty.
  • Kohen
    Kohen
    A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

     (priest) - patrilineal descendant of Aaron
    Aaron
    In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Aaron : Ααρών ), who is often called "'Aaron the Priest"' and once Aaron the Levite , was the older brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. He represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest of the Israelites...

    , brother of Moses
    Moses
    Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

    . In the Temple, the kohanim were charged with performing the sacrifices. Today, a Kohen is the first one called up at the reading of the Torah, performs the Priestly Blessing
    Priestly Blessing
    The Priestly Blessing, , also known in Hebrew as Nesiat Kapayim, , or Dukhanen , is a Jewish prayer recited by Kohanim during certain Jewish services...

    , as well as complying with other unique laws and ceremonies, including the ceremony of redemption of the first-born.
  • Levi (Levite
    Levite
    In Jewish tradition, a Levite is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the Levites were the only Israelite tribe that received cities but were not allowed to be landowners "because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance"...

    ) - Patrilineal descendant of Levi
    Levi
    Levi/Levy was, according to the Book of Genesis, the third son of Jacob and Leah, and the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Levi ; however Peake's commentary suggests this as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite...

     the son of Jacob
    Jacob
    Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

    . In the Temple in Jerusalem
    Temple in Jerusalem
    The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

    , the levites sang Psalms
    Psalms
    The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...

    , performed construction, maintenance, janitorial, and guard duties, assisted the priests, and sometimes interpreted the law and Temple ritual to the public. Today, a Levite is called up second to the reading of the Torah.

Prayer leaders


From the time of the Mishnah
Mishnah
The Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism. It was redacted c...

 and Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 to the present, Judaism has required specialists or authorities for the practice of very few rituals or ceremonies. A Jew can fulfill most requirements for prayer by himself. Some activities—reading the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 and haftarah (a supplementary portion from the Prophets or Writings), the prayer for mourners, the blessings for bridegroom and bride, the complete grace after meals—require a minyan
Minyan
A minyan in Judaism refers to the quorum of ten Jewish adults required for certain religious obligations. According to many non-Orthodox streams of Judaism adult females count in the minyan....

, the presence of ten Jews.

The most common professional clergy in a synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

 are:
  • Rabbi
    Rabbi
    In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

     of a congregation - Jewish scholar who is charged with answering the legal questions of a congregation. This role requires ordination by the congregation's preferred authority (i.e. from a respected Orthodox rabbi or, if the congregation is Conservative or Reform, from academic seminaries). A congregation does not necessarily require a rabbi. Some congregations have a rabbi but also allow members of the congregation to act as shatz or baal kriyah (see below).
    • Hassidic Rebbe
      Rebbe
      Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

      - rabbi who is the head of a Hasidic
      Hasidic Judaism
      Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" , is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith...

       dynasty.
  • Hazzan
    Hazzan
    A hazzan or chazzan is a Jewish cantor, a musician trained in the vocal arts who helps lead the congregation in songful prayer.There are many rules relating to how a cantor should lead services, but the idea of a cantor as a paid professional does not exist in classical rabbinic sources...

     (note: the "h" denotes voiceless pharyngeal fricative
    Voiceless pharyngeal fricative
    The voiceless pharyngeal fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is h-bar .-Features:Features of the voiceless pharyngeal fricative:...

    ) (cantor) - a trained vocalist who acts as shatz. Chosen for a good voice, knowledge of traditional tunes, understanding of the meaning of the prayers and sincerity in reciting them. A congregation does not need to have a dedicated hazzan.


Jewish prayer services do involve two specified roles, which are sometimes, but not always, filled by a rabbi and/or hazzan in many congregations. In other congregations these roles are filled on an ad-hoc basis by members of the congregation who lead portions of services on a rotating basis:
  • Shaliach tzibur or Shatz (leader—literally "agent" or "representative"—of the congregation) leads those assembled in prayer, and sometimes prays on behalf of the community. When a shatz recites a prayer on behalf of the congregation, he is not acting as an intermediary but rather as a facilitator. The entire congregation participates in the recital of such prayers by saying amen at their conclusion; it is with this act that the shatz's prayer becomes the prayer of the congregation. Any adult capable of reciting the prayers clearly may act as shatz. In Orthodox congregations and some Conservative congregations, only men can be prayer leaders, but all Progressive
    Progressive Judaism
    Progressive Judaism , is an umbrella term used by strands of Judaism which affiliate to the World Union for Progressive Judaism. They embrace pluralism, modernity, equality and social justice as core values and believe that such values are consistent with a committed Jewish life...

     communities now allow women to serve in this function.
  • The Baal kriyah or baal koreh (master of the reading) reads the weekly Torah
    Torah
    Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

     portion. The requirements for being the baal kriyah are the same as those for the shatz. These roles are not mutually exclusive. The same person is often qualified to fill more than one role, and often does. Often there are several people capable of filling these roles and different services (or parts of services) will be led by each.


Many congregations, especially larger ones, also rely on a:
  • Gabbai
    Gabbai
    A Gabbai is a person who assists in the running of a synagogue and ensures that the needs are met, for example the Jewish prayer services run smoothly, or an assistant to a rabbi...

     (sexton) - Calls people up to the Torah, appoints the shatz for each prayer session if there is no standard shatz, and makes certain that the synagogue is kept clean and supplied.


The three preceding positions are usually voluntary and considered an honor. Since the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 large synagogues have often adopted the practice of hiring rabbis and hazzans to act as shatz and baal kriyah, and this is still typically the case in many Conservative and Reform congregations. However, in most Orthodox synagogues these positions are filled by laypeople on a rotating or ad-hoc basis. Although most congregations hire one or more Rabbis, the use of a professional hazzan is generally declining in American congregations, and the use of professionals for other offices is rarer still.

Specialized religious roles

  • Dayan (judge) - An ordained rabbi with special legal training who belongs to a beth din
    Beth din
    A beth din, bet din, beit din or beis din is a rabbinical court of Judaism. In ancient times, it was the building block of the legal system in the Biblical Land of Israel...

    (rabbinical court). In Israel, religious courts handle marriage and divorce cases, conversion and financial disputes in the Jewish community.
  • Mohel
    Mohel
    A mohel is a Jewish person trained in the practice of brit milah "covenant of circumcision."-Etymology of the Hebrew and Aramaic term:...

     (circumciser) - An expert in the laws of circumcision who has received training from a previously qualified mohel and performs the brit milah
    Brit milah
    The brit milah is a Jewish religious circumcision ceremony performed on 8-day old male infants by a mohel. The brit milah is followed by a celebratory meal .-Biblical references:...

    (circumcision).
  • Shochet
    Shechita
    Shechita is the ritual slaughter of mammals and birds according to Jewish dietary laws...

     (ritual slaughterer) - In order for meat to be kosher, it must be slaughtered by a shochet who is an expert in the laws of kashrut and has been trained by another shochet.
  • Sofer
    Sofer (scribe)
    A Sofer, Sopher Sofer SeTaM, or Sofer ST"M is a Jewish scribe who can transcribe Torah scrolls and other religious writings such as those used in Tefillin and Mezuzot.By simple definition, a sofer is a copyist, but in their religious role in Judaism they...

     (scribe) - Torah
    Torah
    Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

     scrolls, tefillin
    Tefillin
    Tefillin also called phylacteries are a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah, which are worn by observant Jews during weekday morning prayers. Although "tefillin" is technically the plural form , it is loosely used as a singular as...

    (phylacteries), mezuzot
    Mezuzah
    A mezuzah is usually a metal or wooden rectangular object that is fastened to a doorpost of a Jewish house. Inside it is a piece of parchment inscribed with specified Hebrew verses from the Torah...

    (scrolls put on doorposts), and gittin (bills of divorce) must be written by a sofer who is an expert in Hebrew calligraphy and has undergone rigorous training in the laws of writing sacred texts.
  • Rosh yeshiva
    Rosh yeshiva
    Rosh yeshiva, , , is the title given to the dean of a Talmudical academy . It is made up of the Hebrew words rosh — meaning head, and yeshiva — a school of religious Jewish education...

     - A Torah scholar who runs a yeshiva
    Yeshiva
    Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

    .
  • Mashgiach
    Mashgiach ruchani
    Mashgiach ruchani or mashgiach for short, means a spiritual supervisor or guide. It is a title which usually refers to a rabbi who has an official position within a yeshiva and is responsible for the non-academic areas of yeshiva students' lives.The position of mashgiach ruchani arose with the...

     of a yeshiva - Depending on which yeshiva, might either be the person responsible for ensuring attendance and proper conduct, or even supervise the emotional and spiritual welfare of the students and give lectures on mussar
    Mussar movement
    The Musar movement is a Jewish ethical, educational and cultural movement that developed in 19th century Eastern Europe, particularly among Orthodox Lithuanian Jews. The Hebrew term Musar , is from the book of Proverbs 1:2 meaning instruction, discipline, or conduct...

     (Jewish ethics).
  • Mashgiach
    Mashgiach
    In Judaism, a Mashgiach is a person who supervises the kashrut status of a kosher establishment.A mashgiah may supervise any type of food service establishment, including slaughterhouses, food manufacturers, hotels, caterers, nursing homes, restaurants, butchers, groceries, or cooperatives...

     - Supervises manufacturers of kosher food, importers, caterers and restaurants to ensure that the food is kosher. Must be an expert in the laws of kashrut
    Kashrut
    Kashrut is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha is termed kosher in English, from the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew term kashér , meaning "fit" Kashrut (also kashruth or kashrus) is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha (Jewish law) is termed...

     and trained by a rabbi, if not a rabbi himself.

Origins



At its core, the Tanakh is an account of the Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

s' relationship with God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 from their earliest history until the building of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 (c. 535 BCE). Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 is hailed as the first Hebrew
Hebrews
Hebrews is an ethnonym used in the Hebrew Bible...

 and the father of the Jewish people. As a reward for his act of faith in one God, he was promised that Isaac
Isaac
Isaac as described in the Hebrew Bible, was the only son Abraham had with his wife Sarah, and was the father of Jacob and Esau. Isaac was one of the three patriarchs of the Israelites...

, his second son, would inherit the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

 (then called Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

). Later, Jacob
Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

 and his children were enslaved in Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, and God commanded Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 to lead the Exodus
The Exodus
The Exodus is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible.Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness...

 from Egypt. At Mount Sinai
Biblical Mount Sinai
The Biblical Mount Sinai is the mountain at which the Book of Exodus states that the Ten Commandments were given to Moses by God...

 they received the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 - the five books of Moses. These books, together with Nevi'im
Nevi'im
Nevi'im is the second of the three major sections in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. It falls between the Torah and Ketuvim .Nevi'im is traditionally divided into two parts:...

 and Ketuvim
Ketuvim
Ketuvim or Kəṯûḇîm in actual Biblical Hebrew is the third and final section of the Tanak , after Torah and Nevi'im . In English translations of the Hebrew Bible, this section is usually entitled "Writings" or "Hagiographa"...

 are known as Torah Shebikhtav as opposed to the Oral Torah
Oral Torah
The Oral Torah comprises the legal and interpretative traditions that, according to tradition, were transmitted orally from Mount Sinai, and were not written in the Torah...

, which refers to the Mishna and the Talmud. Eventually, God led them to the land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

 where the tabernacle was planted in the city of Shiloh
Shiloh (Biblical)
Shiloh was an ancient city south of ancient Tirzah and mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Its site is at modern Khirbet Seilun, West Bank, and north of the Israeli settlement of Beth El in the West Bank....

 for over 300 years to rally the nation against attacking enemies. As time went on, the spiritual level of the nation declined to the point that God allowed the Philistines
Philistines
Philistines , Pleshet or Peleset, were a people who occupied the southern coast of Canaan at the beginning of the Iron Age . According to the Bible, they ruled the five city-states of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath, from the Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north, but with...

 to capture the tabernacle. The people of Israel then told Samuel the prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

 that they needed to be governed by a permanent king, and Samuel appointed Saul
Saul the King
According to the Bible, Saul was the first king of the united Kingdom of Israel. He was anointed by the prophet Samuel and reigned from Gibeah. He commited suicide to avoid arrest in the battle against the Philistines at Mount Gilboa, during which three of his sons were also killed...

 to be their King. When the people pressured Saul into going against a command conveyed to him by Samuel, God told Samuel to appoint David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

 in his stead.

Once King David was established, he told the prophet Nathan
Nathan (Prophet)
Nathan the Prophet was a court prophet who lived in the time of King David and Queen Bathsheba. He came to David to reprimand him over his committing adultery with Bathsheba while she was the wife of Uriah the Hittite whose death the King had also arranged to hide his previous transgression.His...

 that he would like to build a permanent temple, and as a reward for his actions, God promised David that he would allow his son, Solomon
Solomon
Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

, to build the first permanent temple
Solomon's Temple
Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the main temple in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount , before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE....

 and the throne would never depart from his children.

Rabbinic tradition holds that the details and interpretation of the law, which are called the Oral Torah
Oral Torah
The Oral Torah comprises the legal and interpretative traditions that, according to tradition, were transmitted orally from Mount Sinai, and were not written in the Torah...

or oral law, were originally an unwritten tradition based upon what God told Moses on Mount Sinai. However, as the persecutions of the Jews increased and the details were in danger of being forgotten, these oral laws were recorded by Rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

 Judah haNasi
Judah haNasi
Judah the Prince, or Judah I, also known as Rebbi or Rabbeinu HaKadosh , was a 2nd-century CE rabbi and chief redactor and editor of the Mishnah. He was a key leader of the Jewish community during the Roman occupation of Judea . He was of the Davidic line, the royal line of King David, hence the...

 (Judah the Prince) in the Mishnah
Mishnah
The Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism. It was redacted c...

, redacted circa 200 CE. The Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 was a compilation of both the Mishnah and the Gemara
Gemara
The Gemara is the component of the Talmud comprising rabbinical analysis of and commentary on the Mishnah. After the Mishnah was published by Rabbi Judah the Prince The Gemara (also transliterated Gemora or, less commonly, Gemorra; from Aramaic גמרא gamar; literally, "[to] study" or "learning by...

, rabbinic commentaries redacted over the next three centuries. The Gemara originated in two major centers of Jewish scholarship, Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 and Babylonia. Correspondingly, two bodies of analysis developed, and two works of Talmud were created. The older compilation is called the Jerusalem Talmud
Jerusalem Talmud
The Jerusalem Talmud, talmud meaning "instruction", "learning", , is a collection of Rabbinic notes on the 2nd-century Mishnah which was compiled in the Land of Israel during the 4th-5th century. The voluminous text is also known as the Palestinian Talmud or Talmud de-Eretz Yisrael...

. It was compiled sometime during the 4th century in Israel. The Babylonian Talmud was compiled from discussions in the houses of study by the scholars Ravina I
Ravina I
Ravina I was a Jewish Talmudist, and rabbi, accounted as an Amora sage of the 5th and 6th generation of the Amora era. He began the process of compiling the Talmud with Rav Ashi. He died in 421. The Talmud was ultimately completed by his nephew Ravina II....

, Ravina II
Ravina II
Ravina II was a Jewish Talmudist and rabbi, accounted as an Amora sage of the 8th generation of the Amora era. In 475 AD, he finished editing the Gemara portion of the Talmud Bavli, completing the work of his teacher Rav Ashi. He was also a nephew of Ravina I. He was a leader for 22 years....

, and Rav Ashi by 500 CE, although it continued to be edited later.

Some critical scholars oppose the view that the sacred texts, including the Hebrew Bible
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

, were divinely inspired. Many of these scholars accept the general principles of the documentary hypothesis
Documentary hypothesis
The documentary hypothesis , holds that the Pentateuch was derived from originally independent, parallel and complete narratives, which were subsequently combined into the current form by a series of redactors...

 and suggest that the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 consists of inconsistent texts edited together in a way that calls attention to divergent accounts. Many suggest that during the First Temple period, the people of Israel believed that each nation had its own god, but that their god was superior to other gods. Some suggest that strict monotheism developed during the Babylonian Exile, perhaps in reaction to Zoroastrian dualism. In this view, it was only by the Hellenic period that most Jews came to believe that their god was the only god, and that the notion of a clearly bounded Jewish nation identical with the Jewish religion formed.

John Day
John Day (Old Testament scholar)
John Day is an English Old Testament scholar. He is Professor of Old Testament Studies in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oxford. He is the editor of In search of pre-exilic Israel and wrote God's Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea. He is also Fellow, Tutor in Theology, and Dean of...

 argues that the origins of biblical Yahweh
Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

, El, Asherah
Asherah
Asherah , in Semitic mythology, is a Semitic mother goddess, who appears in a number of ancient sources including Akkadian writings by the name of Ashratum/Ashratu and in Hittite as Asherdu or Ashertu or Aserdu or Asertu...

, and Ba'al, may be rooted in earlier Canaanite religion
Canaanite religion
Canaanite religion is the name for the group of Ancient Semitic religions practiced by the Canaanites living in the ancient Levant from at least the early Bronze Age through the first centuries of the Common Era....

, which was centered on a pantheon of gods much like the Greek Pantheon
Pantheon (gods)
A pantheon is a set of all the gods of a particular polytheistic religion or mythology.Max Weber's 1922 opus, Economy and Society discusses the link between a...

.

Antiquity


The United Monarchy
United Monarchy
According to Biblical tradition, the united Kingdom of Israel was a kingdom that existed in the Land of Israel, a period referred to by scholars as the United Monarchy. Biblical historians date the kingdom from c. 1020 BCE to c...

 was established under Saul
Saul the King
According to the Bible, Saul was the first king of the united Kingdom of Israel. He was anointed by the prophet Samuel and reigned from Gibeah. He commited suicide to avoid arrest in the battle against the Philistines at Mount Gilboa, during which three of his sons were also killed...

 and continued under King David and Solomon
Solomon
Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

 with its capital in Jerusalem. After Solomon's reign the nation split into two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Israel (in the north) and the Kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

 (in the south). The Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n ruler Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 in the late 8th century BCE with many people from the capital Samaria being taken captive to Media and the Khabur River
Khabur River
The Khabur River , , , ) is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra's al-'Ayn are the river's main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating...

 valley. The Kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

 continued as an independent state until it was conquered by a Babylonian army in the early 6th century BCE, destroying the First Temple that was at the center of ancient Jewish worship. The Judean elite were exiled to Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

 and this is regarded as the first Jewish Diaspora. Later many of them returned to their homeland after the subsequent conquest of Babylonia by the Persians seventy years later, a period known as the Babylonian Captivity
Babylonian captivity
The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

. A new Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 was constructed, and old religious practices were resumed.

During the early years of the Second Temple, the highest religious authority was a council known as the Great Assembly, led by Ezra of the Book of Ezra. Among other accomplishments of the Great Assembly, the last books of the Bible were written at this time and the canon sealed.

Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism was a movement which existed in the Jewish diaspora that sought to establish a Hebraic-Jewish religious tradition within the culture and language of Hellenism...

 spread to Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt began when Ptolemy I Soter invaded Egypt and declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt in 305 BC and ended with the death of queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to...

 from the 3rd century BCE. After the Great Revolt (66–73 CE), the Romans destroyed the Temple. Hadrian
Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

 built a pagan idol on the Temple grounds and prohibited circumcision; these acts of ethnocide provoked the Bar Kokhba revolt 132–136 CE after which the Romans banned the study of the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 and the celebration of Jewish holidays, and forcibly removed virtually all Jews from Judea. In 200 CE, however, Jews were granted Roman citizenship and Judaism was recognized as a religio licita
Religio licita
Religio licita is a phrase used in the Apologeticum of Tertullian to describe the special status of Judaism under Roman Imperial rule...

("legitimate religion"), until the rise of Gnosticism
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

 and Early Christianity
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

 in in the fourth century.

Following the destruction of Jerusalem and the expulsion of the Jews, Jewish worship stopped being centrally organized around the Temple, prayer took the place of sacrifice, and worship was rebuilt around the community (represented by a minimum of ten adult men) and the establishment of the authority of rabbis who acted as teachers and leaders of individual communities (see Jewish diaspora
Jewish diaspora
The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the Galut גלות , or 'exile', of the Jews from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Iudaea and later emigration from wider Eretz Israel....

).

Historical Jewish groupings (to 1700)


Around the 1st century CE there were several small Jewish sects: the Pharisees
Pharisees
The Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty in the wake of...

, Sadducees
Sadducees
The Sadducees were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Ancient Israel during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BC through the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The sect was identified by Josephus with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society...

, Zealots, Essenes
Essenes
The Essenes were a Jewish sect that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE which some scholars claim seceded from the Zadokite priests...

, and Christians
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, these sects vanished. Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 survived, but by breaking with Judaism and becoming a separate religion
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

; the Pharisees
Pharisees
The Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty in the wake of...

 survived but in the form of Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud...

 (today, known simply as "Judaism"). The Sadducees
Sadducees
The Sadducees were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Ancient Israel during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BC through the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The sect was identified by Josephus with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society...

 rejected the divine inspiration
Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

 of the Prophets
Nevi'im
Nevi'im is the second of the three major sections in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. It falls between the Torah and Ketuvim .Nevi'im is traditionally divided into two parts:...

 and the Writings
Ketuvim
Ketuvim or Kəṯûḇîm in actual Biblical Hebrew is the third and final section of the Tanak , after Torah and Nevi'im . In English translations of the Hebrew Bible, this section is usually entitled "Writings" or "Hagiographa"...

, relying only on the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 as divinely inspired. Consequently, a number of other core tenets of the Pharisees' belief system (which became the basis for modern Judaism), were also dismissed by the Sadducees. (The Samaritans practiced a similar religion, which is traditionally considered separate from Judaism.)

Like the Sadducees who relied only on the Torah, some Jews in the 8th and 9th centuries rejected the authority and divine inspiration of the oral law
Oral law
An oral law is a code of conduct in use in a given culture, religion or community application, by which a body of rules of human behaviour is transmitted by oral tradition and effectively respected, or the single rule that is orally transmitted....

 as recorded in the Mishnah
Mishnah
The Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism. It was redacted c...

 (and developed by later rabbis in the two Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

s), relying instead only upon the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

. These included the Isunians, the Yudganites, the Malikites, and others. They soon developed oral traditions of their own, which differed from the rabbinic traditions, and eventually formed the Karaite sect. Karaites exist in small numbers today, mostly living in Israel. Rabbinical and Karaite Jews each hold that the others are Jews, but that the other faith is erroneous.

Over a long time, Jews formed distinct ethnic groups in several different geographic areas — amongst others, the Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...

 (of central
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 and Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

), the Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

 (of Spain, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, and North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

), the Beta Israel
Beta Israel
Beta Israel Israel, Ge'ez: ቤተ እስራኤል - Bēta 'Isrā'ēl, modern Bēte 'Isrā'ēl, EAE: "Betä Ǝsraʾel", "Community of Israel" also known as Ethiopian Jews , are the names of Jewish communities which lived in the area of Aksumite and Ethiopian Empires , nowadays divided between Amhara and Tigray...

 of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, and the Yemenite Jews
Yemenite Jews
Yemenite Jews are those Jews who live, or whose recent ancestors lived, in Yemen . Between June 1949 and September 1950, the overwhelming majority of Yemen's Jewish population was transported to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet...

 from the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

. Many of these groups have developed differences in their prayers, traditions and accepted canons; however these distinctions are mainly the result of their being formed at some cultural distance from normative (rabbinic) Judaism, rather than based on any doctrinal dispute.

Persecutions



Antisemitism arose during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, in the form of persecutions, pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

s, forced conversion
Forced conversion
A forced conversion is the religious conversion or acceptance of a philosophy against the will of the subject, often with the threatened consequence of earthly penalties or harm. These consequences range from job loss and social isolation to incarceration, torture or death...

, expulsions, social restrictions and ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

ization.

This was different in quality to any repressions of Jews in ancient times. Ancient repression was politically motivated and Jews were treated no differently than any other ethnic group would have been. With the rise of the Churches, attacks on Jews became motivated instead by theological considerations specifically deriving from Christian views about Jews and Judaism.

Hasidism


Hasidic Judaism was founded by Yisroel ben Eliezer
Yisroel ben Eliezer (The Baal Shem Tov)
Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer , often called Baal Shem Tov or Besht, was a Jewish mystical rabbi...

 (1700–1760), also known as the Ba'al Shem Tov (or Besht). It originated in a time of persecution of the Jewish people, when European Jews had turned inward to Talmud study; many felt that most expressions of Jewish life had become too "academic", and that they no longer had any emphasis on spirituality or joy. His disciples attracted many followers; they themselves established numerous Hasidic sects across Europe. Hasidic Judaism eventually became the way of life for many Jews in Europe. Waves of Jewish immigration in the 1880s carried it to the United States.
The movement itself claims to be nothing new, but a refreshment of original Judaism. Or as some have put it: "they merely re-emphasized that which the generations had lost". Nevertheless, early on there was a serious schism between Hasidic and non-Hasidic Jews. European Jews who rejected the Hasidic movement were dubbed by the Hasidim as Misnagdim
Misnagdim
Misnagdim or Mitnagdim is a Hebrew word meaning "opponents". It is the plural of misnaged or mitnaged. Most prominent among the Misnagdim was Rabbi Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman , commonly known as the Vilna Gaon or the Gra...

, (lit. "opponents"). Some of the reasons for the rejection of Hasidic Judaism were the overwhelming exuberance of Hasidic worship, its untraditional ascriptions of infallibility and alleged miracle-working to their leaders, and the concern that it might become a messianic sect. Since then differences between the Hasidim and their opponents have slowly diminished and both groups are now considered part of Haredi Judaism
Haredi Judaism
Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

.

The Enlightenment and New Religious Movements


In the late 18th century CE, Europe was swept by a group of intellectual, social and political movements known as the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

. The Enlightenment led to reductions in the European laws that prohibited Jews to interact with the wider secular world, thus allowing Jews access to secular education and experience. A parallel Jewish movement, Haskalah
Haskalah
Haskalah , the Jewish Enlightenment, was a movement among European Jews in the 18th–19th centuries that advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history...

 or the "Jewish Enlightenment", began, especially in Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 and Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

, in response to both the Enlightenment and these new freedoms. It placed an emphasis on integration with secular society and a pursuit of non-religious knowledge through reason. With the promise of political emancipation many Jews saw no reason to continue to observe Jewish law and increasing numbers of Jews assimilated into Christian Europe. Modern religious movements of Judaism all formed in reaction to this trend.

In Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

, followed by Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 and The United States, Reform Judaism
Reform movement in Judaism
The Reform movement in Judaism, originally named Reformed Society of Israelites, for Promoting true Principles of Judaism, according to its Purity and Spirit, is a historic and on-going religious and social movement that originated simultaneously in the early nineteenth century in the United States...

 and Liberal Judaism
Liberal Judaism
Liberal Judaism , is one of the two forms of Progressive Judaism found in the United Kingdom, the other being Reform Judaism. Liberal Judaism, which developed at the beginning of the twentieth century is less conservative than UK Reform Judaism...

 developed, relaxing legal obligations (especially those that limited Jewish relations with non-Jews), emulating Protestant decorum in prayer, and emphasizing the ethical values of Judaism's Prophetic tradition. Modern Orthodox Judaism
Modern Orthodox Judaism
Modern Orthodox Judaism is a movement within Orthodox Judaism that attempts to synthesize Jewish values and the observance of Jewish law, with the secular, modern world....

 developed in reaction to Reform Judaism, by leaders who argued that Jews could participate in public life as citizens equal to Christians, while maintaining the observance of Jewish law. Meanwhile, in the United States, wealthy Reform Jews helped European scholars, who were Orthodox in practice but critical (and skeptical) in their study of the Bible and Talmud, to establish a seminary to train rabbis for immigrants from Eastern Europe. These left-wing Orthodox rabbis were joined by right-wing Reform rabbis who felt that Jewish law should not be entirely abandoned, to form the Conservative movement
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

. Orthodox Jews who opposed the Haskalah formed Haredi Orthodox Judaism. After massive movements of Jews following The Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 and the creation of the state of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, these movements have competed for followers from among traditional Jews in or from other countries.

Spectrum of observance



Countries such as the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 contain large Jewish populations. Jewish religious practice varies widely through all levels of observance. According to the 2001 edition of the National Jewish Population Survey
National Jewish Population Survey
The National Jewish Population Survey , most recently performed in 2000-01, is a representative survey of the Jewish population in the United States sponsored by United Jewish Communities and the Jewish Federation system....

, in the United States' Jewish community—the world's second largest—4.3 million Jews out of 5.1 million had some sort of connection to the religion. Of that population of connected Jews, 80% participated in some sort of Jewish religious observance, but only 48% belonged to a synagogue, and fewer than 16% attend regularly.

Birth rates for American Jews have dropped from 2.0 to 1.7. (Replacement rate is 2.1.) Intermarriage rates range from 40-50% in the US, and only about a third of children of intermarried couples are raised as Jews. Due to intermarriage and low birth rates, the Jewish population in the US shrank from 5.5 million in 1990 to 5.1 million in 2001. This is indicative of the general population trends among the Jewish community in the Diaspora
Diaspora
A diaspora is "the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland" or "people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location", or "people settled far from their ancestral homelands".The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of...

, but a focus on total population obscures growth trends in some denominations and communities, such as Haredi Judaism
Haredi Judaism
Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

. The Baal teshuva
Baal teshuva
Baal teshuva or ba'al teshuvah , sometimes abbreviated to BT, is a term referring to a Jew who turns to embrace Orthodox Judaism. Baal teshuva literally means, "repentant", i.e., one who has repented or "returned" to God...

 movement is a movement of Jews who have "returned" to religion or become more observant.

Christianity and Judaism


Historians and theologians regularly review the changing relationship between some Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 groups and the Jewish people; the article on Christian-Jewish reconciliation
Christian-Jewish reconciliation
Reconciliation between Christianity and Judaism refers to the efforts that are being made to improve understanding of the Jewish people and of Judaism, to do away with Christian antisemitism and Jewish anti-Christian sentiment...

 studies one recent issue.

Islam and Judaism


The relationship between Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and Judaism is special and close. Both religions claim to arise from the patriarch Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, and are therefore considered Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

. As fellow monotheists
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

, Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s view Jews as "people of the book
People of the Book
People of the Book is a term used to designate non-Muslim adherents to faiths which have a revealed scripture called, in Arabic, Al-Kitab . The three types of adherents to faiths that the Qur'an mentions as people of the book are the Jews, Sabians and Christians.In Islam, the Muslim scripture, the...

", a term that Jews have subsequently adopted as a way of describing their own connection to the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 and other holy texts. In turn, many Jews maintain that Muslims adhere to the Seven Laws of Noah. Thus, Judaism views Muslims as righteous people of God. Jews have interacted with Muslims since the 7th century, when Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 originated and spread in the Arabian peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

, and many aspects of Islam's core values, structure, jurisprudence and practice are based on Judaism. Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 culture and philosophy have heavily influenced practitioners of Judaism in the Islamic world.

In premodern Muslim countries, Jews rarely faced martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

dom, exile
Galut
Galut or Golus , means literally exile. Galut or Golus classically refers to the exile of the Jewish people from the Land of Israel . There were altogether four such exiles...

 or forcible conversion
Forced conversion
A forced conversion is the religious conversion or acceptance of a philosophy against the will of the subject, often with the threatened consequence of earthly penalties or harm. These consequences range from job loss and social isolation to incarceration, torture or death...

, and were mostly free in their choice of residence and profession. Indeed, the years 712 to 1066 CE under the Ummayad and the Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 rulers have been called the Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain. Non-Muslim monotheists living in these countries, including Jews, were known as dhimmis. Dhimmis were allowed to practice their religion and to administer their internal affairs, but they were subject to certain restrictions that were not imposed on Muslims. For example, they had to pay the jizya
Jizya
Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria...

, a per capita tax imposed on free adult non-Muslim males, and they were also forbidden to bear arms or testify in court cases involving Muslims. Many of the laws regarding dhimmis were highly symbolic. For example, dhimmis in some countries were required to wear distinctive clothing
Yellow badge
The yellow badge , also referred to as a Jewish badge, was a cloth patch that Jews were ordered to sew on their outer garments in order to mark them as Jews in public. It is intended to be a badge of shame associated with antisemitism...

, a practice not found in either the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 or hadiths but invented in early medieval
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

 Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 and inconsistently enforced. Jews in Muslim countries were not entirely free from persecution—for example, many were killed, exiled or forcibly converted in the 12th century, in Persia and by the rulers of the Almohad
Almohad
The Almohad Dynasty , was a Moroccan Berber-Muslim dynasty founded in the 12th century that established a Berber state in Tinmel in the Atlas Mountains in roughly 1120.The movement was started by Ibn Tumart in the Masmuda tribe, followed by Abd al-Mu'min al-Gumi between 1130 and his...

 dynasty in North Africa and Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

. At times, Jews were also restricted in their choice of residence—in Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, Jews were confined to walled quarters (mellah
Mellah
A mellah is a walled Jewish quarter of a city in Morocco, an analogue of the European ghetto...

s) beginning in the 15th century and increasingly since the early 19th century.

In the late 20th century, Jews were expelled from nearly all the Arab countries. Most have chosen to live in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. Today, antisemitic themes have become commonplace in the propaganda of Arab Islamic movements such as Hizbullah and Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

, in the pronouncements of various agencies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and even in the newspapers and other publications of Refah Partisi.

Syncretic movements incorporating Judaism


There are some movements that combine elements of Judaism with those of other religions. The most well-known of these is Messianic Judaism
Messianic Judaism
Messianic Judaism is a syncretic religious movement that arose in the 1960s and 70s. It blends evangelical Christian theology with elements of Jewish terminology and ritual....

, which arose in the 1960s. It blends evangelical Christian
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 theology with elements of Jewish terminology and ritual. The movement states that Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 is part of the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

, and salvation is only achieved through acceptance of Jesus as one's savior. Some members of the movement are ethnically Jewish, and some of them argue that Messianic Judaism is a sect of Judaism. Jewish organizations and religious movements reject this, stating that Messianic Judaism is a Christian sect. The most controversial of these groups is the American organization Jews for Jesus
Jews for Jesus
Jews for Jesus is a conservative, Christian evangelical organization that focuses on the conversion of Jews to Christianity. Its members consider themselves to be Jews – either as defined by Jewish law, or as according to the view of Jews for Jesus. Jews for Jesus defines “Jewish” in terms of...

, which actively proselytizes ethnic Jews through numerous missionary campaigns in major American cities.

Other examples of syncretism
Syncretism
Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...

 include Judeo-Paganists, a loosely organized set of Jews who incorporate pagan or Wicca
Wicca
Wicca , is a modern Pagan religious movement. Developing in England in the first half of the 20th century, Wicca was popularised in the 1950s and early 1960s by a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald Gardner, who at the time called it the "witch cult" and "witchcraft," and its adherents "the Wica."...

n beliefs with some Jewish religious practices, like Messianic Judaism; Jewish Buddhists, another loosely organized group that incorporates elements of Asian spirituality in their faith; and some Renewal Jews
Jewish Renewal
Jewish Renewal , is a recent movement in Judaism which endeavors to reinvigorate modern Judaism with mystical, Hasidic, musical and meditative practices...

 who borrow freely and openly from Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, Sufism
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

, Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 religion, and other faiths.

The Kabbalah Centre
Kabbalah Centre
The Kabbalah Centre is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, that provides courses online and through its local centres and study groups. The Kabbalah Centre teaches principles of Kabbalah...

, which employs teachers from multiple religions, is a New Age
New Age
The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century. Its central precepts have been described as "drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and then infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational...

 movement that claims to popularize the kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

, the Jewish esoteric tradition.

See also


  • Anti-Judaism
    Anti-Judaism
    Religious antisemitism is a form of antisemitism, which is the prejudice against, or hostility toward, the Jewish people based on hostility to Judaism and to Jews as a religious group...

  • Frankism
    Frankism
    Frankism was an 18th-century to 19th-century Jewish religious movement centered around the leadership of the Jewish Messiah claimant Jacob Frank, who lived from 1726 to 1791. At its height, it claimed perhaps 50,000 followers, primarily Jews living in Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe...

  • Jewish views of religious pluralism
    Jewish views of religious pluralism
    Religious pluralism is a set of religious world views that hold that one's religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus recognizes that some level of truth and value exists in other religions...

  • Judaism by country
  • List of converts to Judaism
  • Sabbateanism
  • Secular Jewish culture
    Secular Jewish culture
    Secular Jewish culture embraces several related phenomena; above all, it is the international culture of secular communities of Jewish people, but it can also include the cultural contributions of individuals who identify as secular Jews...

  • United States military chaplain symbols
    United States military chaplain symbols
    Religious symbolism in the United States military includes the use of religious symbols for military chaplain insignia, uniforms, emblems, flags, and chapels; symbolic gestures, actions, and words used in military rituals and ceremonies; and religious symbols or designations used in areas such as...



External links


General

Orthodox/Haredi

Traditional/Conservadox

Conservative

Reform/Progressive

Reconstructionist

Renewal

Humanistic

Karaite

Jewish religious literature and texts
See also Torah database
Torah database
A Torah database is an electronic collection of classic Jewish texts in electronic form, the kinds of texts which especially in Israel are often called "The Traditional Jewish Bookshelf" ; the texts are in their original languages...

 for links to more judaism e-texts.

Wikimedia Torah study projects

Text study projects at Wikisource. In many instances, the Hebrew versions of these projects are more fully developed than the English.
  • Mikraot Gedolot
    Mikraot Gedolot
    The Mikraot Gedolot "Great Scriptures," often called the "Rabbinic Bible" in English, is anedition of Tanakh that generally includes four distinct elements:...

     (Rabbinic Bible) in Hebrew (sample) and English (sample).
  • Cantillation
    Cantillation
    Cantillation is the ritual chanting of readings from the Hebrew Bible in synagogue services. The chants are written and notated in accordance with the special signs or marks printed in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible to complement the letters and vowel points...

     at the "Vayavinu Bamikra" Project in Hebrew (lists nearly 200 recordings) and English.
  • Mishnah
    Mishnah
    The Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism. It was redacted c...

     in Hebrew (sample) and English (sample).
  • Shulchan Aruch
    Shulchan Aruch
    The Shulchan Aruch also known as the Code of Jewish Law, is the most authoritative legal code of Judaism. It was authored in Safed, Israel, by Yosef Karo in 1563 and published in Venice two years later...

     in Hebrew and English (Hebrew text with English translation).