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- Judaism is the oldest religion of the western world and has influenced Christianity and Islam. There are approximately fifteen million Jews throughout the world. Judaism
- The Hebrews were the ancestors of the Jewish people and trace their ancestry to Abraham. He left his home in Mesopotamian about 2200BC to settle in the city of Canaan on the Mediterranean Sea. He is believed to be the Father of Judaism. The Hebrews were different from others of their time because they were monotheistic; they believed in only one God. The Hebrews believed they had a special relationship with their God and that they were his chosen people. Abraham
- According to the Torah, God promised Abraham that his descendants would form a mighty nation. The Hebrews established a nation they called Israel on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. About 1300BCE, many Hebrews moved to Egypt to escape a famine. At first, the Hebrews were treated well in Egypt, but in time they were enslaved by the Egyptians.
- According to Hebrew tradition, God sent ten deadly plagues to Egypt when the Egyptians would not release the Hebrew slaves. When the Hebrews did escape, tradition states that Moses, the leader of the Hebrews, parted the Red Sea for just enough time to allow the Hebrews to pass. Once the Hebrews reached the other side, tradition states that the waters returned and the Egyptian army drowned. The Exodus
- The Jews believed that their escape from slavery was a sign that God was protecting them. After their escape across the Red Sea 1250BCE, God revealed Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments formed the basis of Mosaic Law and are the model for both Jewish and Christian moral thought.
- When the Hebrews finally made it out of the desert they needed to fight to regain control of Israel. They grew rich through trade and expanding their territory. King Solomon built a great temple to God in Jerusalem.
- The Hebrews, also known as Jews, were conquered by several other cultures that destroyed Solomons Temple. In time, most of the Hebrews were forced to leave Israel, beginning a period known as the Diaspora . The Diaspora was the scattering of Jews around the world. The Hebrews were forced to live as minorities in many different lands throughout the world.
- Over time the people that had conquered the Jews were conquered themselves and slowly some Jews returned to Israel. For over one hundred years the Jews ruled themselves and their land. King Herod even rebuilt the temple on the ruins of the one that had been destroyed.
- The Romans The Roman Empire spread to Israel and the Jews were once again a conquered people. They tried to rise up and revolt against the Romans who destroyed their temple and killed or enslaved most of Jerusalems population. Many of the Jews fled, never to return to their homeland again.
- Jewish Beliefs Justice and Righteousness Justice equals kindness and fairness towards others. Righteousness means behaving properly even when others around you are not. This is one of the most important aspects of their religion.
- Jewish Beliefs The Messiah
- Jews believe that one day a human leader will come as a messenger of God and restore greatness to israel.
- They call this leader the messiah . In Greek versions of the Bible, messiah is written as christos , the anointed one
- The Law The Jews believe that The Ten Commandments are the most important laws. They also believe that Moses gave them the Mosaic laws which guide their daily lives like how to pray and observe holy days.
- The Torah The Torah is the most sacred text of Judaism. It includes their laws and the history of the people through the death of Moses. It is also the name given to the scrolls that are used in the temple or synagogue.
- The Hebrew bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh is made up of three different parts . The first part is the Torah, the second part is made up of eight different books that reveal the messages of the Hebrew prophets. The third and final part is made up of eleven different books of poetry, songs and history about the religion. The Hebrew Bible and Protestant Old Testament have the same books arranged in a different order. Additionally, books that Christians divide into two parts (Kings, Chronicles, Samuel, and Ezra-Nehemiah) are only one book in the Hebrew Bible.
- Traditions and Holy days
- Hanukkah Hanukkah, which falls in December, marks the historical event of one days worth of candle oil lasting eight days in celebration of the Jews being allowed to keep their religion . It is marked by lighting one of the candles in the Menorah over an eight day period. Gifts are also exchanged on these days.
- Passover Even more important than Hanukkah is Passover for it marks the Exodus, or Moses leading his people out of slavery.
- High Holy Days Rosh Hashanah is the start of the Jewish New Year Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year because it is then that the Jews ask God to forgive them of their sins.
- Keeping KOSHER Many Jews follow a strict kosher diet that is outlined in the Tanakh. Kosher means Fit and Proper.
- Judaism The Jewish Religion is filled with a rich and tragic history. Its followers are very proud and rightly so of their ancestors and their struggles to keep their religion alive.
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