"What is hateful to you, do not do to others"
Hillel,a Jewish teacher
Judaism is the smallest of the five major religions of the world comprising only less than .2 of 1% of the World’s population. It is the oldest of the three ”Abrahamic Religions” of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The world Jewish population reached a peak of 16.7 million prior to World War II, but approximately 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Since then the population has risen again, and as of 2014 was estimated at 13.90 million or less than 0.2% of the total world population (roughly one in every 514 people). According to this report, about 43% of all Jews reside in Israel (6+ million), and 40% in the United States (5.3–6.8 million), with most of the remainder living in Europe (1.41 million) and Canada (0.39 million).
Judaism tends to focus more on the way in which you practice and live in the world than it does on analyzing the nature of God. One of the central Judaism beliefs is that they are the chosen nation of God. Unlike many other religions, Judaism does not focus much on abstract cosmological concepts. In Judaism God is merciful and just in the true sense. He doesn't torment anyone in hell .He sends everyone to purgatory to revisit their life, which doesn't last more than 1 year. Like Karma, a good life will be pleasantly viewed, a sinful life will be extremely painful. Judaism, like Buddhism, is entirely deeds-based. Christianity and Islam are essentially faith based, meaning you go to heaven no matter what you've done so long as you worshiped the right god and repent your sins. Jews honor a life well lived.
According to Jewish tradition, Abraham was born under the name Abram in the city of Ur in Babylonia in the year 1948 from Creation (circa 1800 BCE). He was the son of Terach, an idol merchant, but from his early childhood, he questioned the faith of his father and sought the truth. He came to believe that the entire universe was the work of a single Creator, and he began to teach this belief to others.
Abram tried to convince his father, Terach, of the folly of idol worship. One day, when Abram was left alone to mind the store, he took a hammer and smashed all of the idols except the largest one. He placed the hammer in the hand of the largest idol. When his father returned and asked what happened, Abram said, "The idols got into a fight, and the big one smashed all the other ones." His father said, "Don't be ridiculous. These idols have no life or power. They can't do anything." Abram replied, "Then why do you worship them?
Eventually, the one true Creator that Abram had worshiped called to him, and made him an offer: if Abram would leave his home and his family, then God would make him a great nation and bless him. Abram accepted this offer, and the covenant between God and the Jewish people was established.
Abram, raised as a city-dweller, adopted a nomadic lifestyle, traveling through what is now the land of Israel for many years. God promised this land to Abram's descendants. Abram is referred to as a Hebrew, because he came from the "other side" (eber) of the Euphrates River.
Abram became concerned, because he had no children and he was growing old. Abram's beloved wife, Sarai, knew that she was past child-bearing years, so she offered her maidservant, Hagar, as a wife to Abram. According to tradition, Hagar was a daughter of Pharaoh, given to Abram during his travels in Egypt. She bore Abram a son, Ishmael, who, according to both Muslim and Jewish tradition, is the ancestor of the Arabs.
When Abram was 100 and Sarai 90, God promised Abram a son by Sarai. God changed Abram's name to Abraham (father of many), and Sarai's to Sarah (from "my princess" to "princess"). Sarah bore Abraham a son, Issac.
Isaac was the ancestor of the Jewish people (as well as of Christians). Thus, the conflict between Arabs and Jews can be seen as beginning with a form of sibling rivalry. Isaac later married Rebecca, who bore him fraternal twin sons: Jacob and Esau.
Jacob fathered 12 sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph and Benjamin. They are the ancestors of the tribes of Israel, and the ones for whom the tribes are named.
Joseph's older brothers were jealous of him, because he was the favorite of their father, and because he had visions that he would lead them all. They sold Joseph into slavery and convinced their father that Joseph was dead. But this was all part of God's plan: Joseph was brought into Egypt, where his ability to interpret visions earned him a place in the Pharaoh's court, paving the way for his family's later settlement.
As centuries passed, the descendants of Israel became slaves in Egypt. They suffered greatly under the hand of later Pharaohs. But God brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses in the Exodus.
God revealed the Torah to Moses for the benefit of his people, both the written and oral Torah, and the entire nation responded, "Everything that the Lord has spoken, we will do ! " According to Jewish tradition, every Jewish soul that would ever be born was present at that moment, and agreed to be bound to this covenant.
Today there is a tremendous conflict between Secular Jews (average citizens who dress and look like ordinary Westerners) and Orthodox Jews (who wear long beards , braded sideburns, big hats and black coats (the traditional look of what people generally think of as the Orthodox Jew).
In Israel (and to a lesser extent elsewhere) some Orthodox Jews are engaging in practices such as:
- Men refusing to work and instead studying the Torah 12 hours+ per day;
- Refusing to serve in the Military;
- Home schooling their children in the Torah and teaching very little in Secular subjects;
- Isolating themselves into separate neighborhoods that do not allow anyone except other Orthodox Jews to enter:
- Damaging public schools in their neighborhoods;
- Making derogatory gestures, spitting and throwing urine on non-Orthodox Jews;
- Actually engaging in violence against Secular Jews.
Secular Jews worry that such practices by the Orthodox Jews will result in degrading the education, science , industry, society and national safety of Israel.
Today every Jewish community is organized through a mixture of territoriality and non-territoriality based institutions. Local political units are, with some modifications, used as the basis for the organization of local Jewish communities throughout the world. At the same time, the ideological and functional divisions in the Jewish community also provide significant points for organization as do particular functions and certain common interests, which are then linked to the territorial community through certain common mechanisms.
What emerges is not a single pyramidal structure, not even one in which the "bottom" rules the "top”. There is no "bottom" or "top" except on a functional basis for specific purposes. Instead there is a matrix of organizations and institutions linked by a shared communications network and stronger or weaker training institutions. This absence of hierarchy is the first element to recognize in examining how Jews make their institutions work.
The word of G-d brought everything into being: heaven and earth, mountains and rivers, and every living thing. In the beginning, G-d called into existence the heaven and earth. Within six days He shaped a world of order and beauty.
The First Day-On the first day, G-d said, “Let there be Light” -- and there was Light.
The Second Day-On the second day G-d made the sky, and called it Heaven.
The Third Day-On the third day, G-d put the earth into good shape. At His command the waters of the earth gathered together at certain places. The waters formed seas and oceans, lakes and rivers, so that in other parts, the dry land became visible.At G-d’s further command, the earth was made to produce all kinds of plants, grass, and trees, shrubs and flowers. Each contained its own seed for further growth and reproduction.
The Fourth Day-On the fourth day, G-d made the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, to shed light upon the earth. And so He set a time for day and a time for night, a time for the week, the month, and the year, and a time for each of the four seasons.
The Fifth Day-On the fifth day, G-d filled the seas with fishes and other water animals. In to the air above the earth He put many birds of all kinds and colors and sizes.
The Sixth Day-On the sixth day, were created all the other animals, large and small, those that walk and those that creep or crawl on the earth. And towards the end of the sixth day, G-d put a divine soul into a body which He made of earth and clay. This was the human.To the human G-d granted high mental ability that one could think and reach one’s own conclusions. G-d also gave the human the power of speech and He made humans superior to all other creatures of the earth.G-d placed all the creatures of the earth and the powers of nature in the control of the human.
The Seventh Day-By the seventh day, everything was created and put into shape and order. And G-d rested on the seventh day and He glorified it as a day of rest. Therefore we should work for six days and rest on the Seventh day, Shabbat or Sabbath, which G-d blessed and sanctified for all time to come.
VISION OF GOD
Judaism was the first tradition to teach monotheism, the belief that there's only one God. As Judaism evolved, the idea of God evolved also focusing on One unknowable, universal, image-less Being, Who, because the universe is framed in Love, requires justice of human beings.
Judaism tends to focus more on the way in which you practice and live in the world than it does on analyzing the nature of God. In fact, biblical monotheism is usually called "ethical monotheism" because of the very strong linkage of right acts to the belief in one God. While some religious traditions consider belief alone to be adequate, Judaism isn't one of them; to Jews, belief is most significant in light of the actions motivated by that belief.
Some Jews see God as an external force, a Being outside of the universe who listens to prayers, controls lives, creates miracles, and judges. But that doesn't mean that God looks like us. In fact, Jewish thought is very clear on this: “Any reference to God being like a human should be taken as poetic metaphor — as though it were followed by the phrase, "so to speak."
Most traditional Jews won't write out the word "God," so many Jewish books and periodicals print it "G-d.” It ensures that a name of God won't be defaced or erased if the paper is ripped up, soiled, or thrown away.
Orthodox Judaism: The traditional approach that asserts the divine origin of the Torah, seen as the changeless revelation of God’s eternal will and therefore fully authoritative. Following “Halachah” [rabbinic defined law] is obligatory and thus of all the branches, Orthodox Judaism places the greatest and strictest demands on its adherents in its concern for preserving religious belief and observing strict religious codes of behavior. “Hassidim” – sometimes termed “Ultra-Orthodox Jews” – are considered to be the most pious of Orthodox Jews.
Conservative Judaism: This branch emphasizes the historic development of Judaism, thereby allowing it to make adjustments since it views the basic Jewish theological and ritual concepts as objects of continuing and evolving change. With Conservative Judaism there is also a strong emphasis on preserving “the People of Israel” and on Zionism.
Reform Judaism: This most liberal and non-authoritarian of mainstream branches regards Torah as guidance rather than as literal divine revelation, thus ethical concepts are emphasized over ritual law. Revelation is thought to be a continuing process, so Reform Judaism believes that Judaism is still evolving.
Reconstructionist Judaism: This smallest and most recent branch follows an approach to Judaism developed by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan who emphasized human values and the centrality of Jewish peoplehood. In practice, it is very close to Conservative Judaism.
In general, however, Judaism remains relatively constant in terms of basic beliefs and practices, and most Jews see themselves as members of the Jewish community rather than only as members of a single branch.
Who is a Jew? Traditionally, Jewish religious law defines a Jew as one who is born of a Jewish mother or one who has been properly converted to Judaism. Stringency of conversion requirements varies from branch to branch, but all mainstream branches are in agreement that mere self-declaration does not constitute conversion. The basics of the conversion process include rabbinic sponsorship and lengthy study in a formal program that culminates with approval by a rabbinic body/court .
Although most prison systems allow inmates to simply designate their own religious status, the Jewish community only recognizes those who meet the preceding criteria as being Jewish. Furthermore, Jews usually do not proselytize or encourage conversion (as Judaism does not assert that it is the only path to redemption/salvation), and it would be almost impossible for a person to meet conversion requirements while incarcerated.
There are many Jewish texts and it would not be practical to try and list them all here so we will focus on the main, or better known of the Jewish texts.
Tanach- The Hebrew Bible. The five books of the Torah appear as the first of three sections of the Hebrew Bible, which contains 39 books reflecting texts that were gathered over almost 2,000 years. Another name for the Hebrew Bible is the Tanach, which is actually an acronym made up of the first letters of the names of each of the three sections: "T" is for Torah, "N" is for Nevi'im ("Prophets"), and "Ch" is for Ketuvim ("Writings").
NOTE: The Hebrew Bible should never be referred to as the "Old Testament." by Jews. The Old Testament is a Christian term based on the idea that there is a New Testament that supersedes the Hebrew Bible. Jews prefer to call their Bible either the Hebrew Bible, or simply the Holy Scriptures. What Christians call the New Testament is usually referred to in Jewish settings as the Christian Bible.
Zohar- the primary work of Jewish mysticism, is loosely organized around the weekly readings from the Torah, the first section of the Bible.
Kabbalah- is an esoteric method, discipline, and school of thought that originated in Judaism. Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal, and mysterious infinity and the mortal and finite universe, which is God's creation.
Mishnah- the primary study-book for Jewish law, provides the structure for the Talmud and the hundreds of later commentaries on the Talmud.
One of the central Judaism beliefs is that they are the chosen nation of God. The Jewish people believe that they must be a light for all the nations. One of Judaism beliefs, is that if a Jew behaves immoral, he desecrates the name of Hashem (God). This is considered a great sin, because Hashem expects the Jewish people to glorify and bring respect to his great name.
Judaism beliefs in afterlife takes a major role in the life of a Jew. One of the core religious beliefs of Judaism is the belief that for every action on earth by humans he will be rewarded or punished in the world to come (similar to the Hindu and Buddhist belief in Karma). In Talmud, earth is named a corridor to the palace, the real world that first takes place after a person dies. Every small child is educated with to live with a vision to prepare for the world to come.
Orthodox Jews don't believe in Jesus. One of the fundamental beliefs of Judaism is the Jewish belief that Hashem (God) is one. Hashem is beyond human grasp of mind and no human action or traits can be related to him. The biggest prophet was Moses and no other prophet can come later and change his words. The "Messiah" has not yet come. Jesus has no place in Orthodox Judaism.
The closest that anyone has ever come to creating a widely-accepted list of Jewish beliefs is Rambam's thirteen principles of faith. These principles, which Rambam thought were the minimum requirements of Jewish belief, are:
- G-d exists
- G-d is one and unique
- G-d is incorporeal
- G-d is eternal
- Prayer is to be directed to G-d alone and to no other
- The words of the prophets are true
- Moses' prophecies are true, and Moses was the greatest of the prophets
- The Written Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) and Oral Torah (teachings now contained in the Talmud and other writings) were given to Moses
- There will be no other Torah
- G-d knows the thoughts and deeds of men
- G-d will reward the good and punish the wicked
- The Messiah will come
- The dead will be resurrected
Unlike many other religions, Judaism does not focus much on abstract cosmological concepts. Although Jews have certainly considered the nature of G-d, man, the universe, life and the afterlife at great length (see Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism), there is no mandated, official, definitive belief on these subjects, outside of the very general concepts discussed above. There is substantial room for personal opinion on all of these matters, because as I said before, Judaism is more concerned about actions than beliefs.
Judaism focuses on relationships: the relationship between G-d and mankind, between G-d and the Jewish people, between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, and between human beings. Their scriptures tell the story of the development of these relationships, from the time of creation, through the creation of the relationship between G-d and Abraham, to the creation of the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people, and forward. The scriptures also specify the mutual obligations created by these relationships, although various movements of Judaism disagree about the nature of these obligations. Some say they are absolute, unchanging laws from G-d (Orthodox); some say they are laws from G-d that change and evolve over time; some say that they are guidelines that you can choose whether or not to follow.
Private: A devout Jew is required to pray three times a day – morning, afternoon, and evening. Although preferably with a quorum [Minyan] of at least ten adult Jewish men in a synagogue setting (if one is available), prayers can alternately be recited individually at home or wherever else one may be located. An additional morning worship service is included on the Sabbath and Festivals, along with special prayers for specific holy days. Hebrew or Hebrew/English (or Hebrew/other local language) books containing structured liturgies are used during prayers. For all male Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist and some Reform Jews the head is covered during prayer with a skull cap [yarmulke] or ordinary hat. Note: most Orthodox men will cover their heads at all times as a sign of reverence to G-d. During morning prayers, a prayer shawl [Tallit] which as fringes at the four corners (in obedience to a command found in the Torah), is worn by adult males. On non-Sabbath/Festival days, two small leather phylacteries [Tefillin] boxes are attached to the forehead and arm with leather straps by adult Orthodox males and by some adherents of other branches. Also, whenever possible, a Jewish inmate should not be required to pray in a room/cell that contains either a toilet or symbols of any other religions.
Jews affix a “Mezuzah”, a small parchment scroll (on which is written the opening paragraphs of the Shema which prescribes this practice) within a protective container to the upper right-hand corner of the doorpost of the front door of their home and synagogues. In the homes of more observant Jews, Mezuzahs are also placed on the doorposts of every other living room (except bathrooms). Though inmates may request a Mezuzah for their living area and/or chapel, a prison is not considered an appropriate place to post a Mezuzah.
Corporate: Although a Minyan is required to conduct a complete Jewish worship service, a lesser number of Jewish males and females can conduct corporate prayer with certain proscribed sections of the service being omitted. Those who are not properly Jewish cannot serve in a Minyan. Likewise, non-Jews should not utter some particular Jewish blessings or participate in certain Jewish liturgical functions. The Pentateuch is divided into weekly portions which are publicly read throughout the Jewish calendar year in synagogues each Sabbath from a Hebrew hand-scribed parchment scroll. Parts of these are further publicly read each Monday and Thursday morning. Related sections of the writings of the Prophets are also publicly read on the Sabbath. Specified other holy writings are publicly read on various holy days. A specially trained person is required to accomplish these readings (which can only be done from proper scrolls) and certain difficult conditions would have to be met in order for such readings to be done in a prison setting.
The Sabbath, Festivals and Other Holy Days-Observant Jews are not permitted to work or engage in various other ‘weekday’ activities on the Sabbath, which is devoted to worship and other related ceremonies. Biblically mandated festivals generally follow the same rules as the Sabbath, with the addition of particular observances and customs. Post biblical holy days are generally not as restrictive and have their own observances and customs. The celebration of these events should be part of a shared religious experience by as many Jewish inmates as possible, so corporate worship and other joint activities are encouraged. Prayer books and other religious materials needed for these events may be obtained from national and/or local Jewish chaplaincies, local synagogues and/or Jewish communities.
Jewish dietary law- is an important aspect of religious observance for all Orthodox, many Conservative, and some Reform and Reconstructionist Jews. Foods that are fit [kosher] for consumption by Jews and the manners in which they are handled are specified in the Torah and further defined through rabbinic law. These dietary laws are extremely complex, so only qualified kosher supervisory personnel should be allowed to make decisions regarding kosher diets.
Basically, kosher foods are divided into three categories; meat, milk, and “pareve” (i.e. neutral). Meat and milk products cannot be cooked, served, or eaten together. They not only require separate cooking, serving and storage utensils from non-kosher foods, but also from each other kosher category.
Meat of only kosher animals and fowl is permitted. Kosher animals, as specified in Torah scripture, are those that both chew their cud and have split hooves (e.g., cows, goats, sheep, etc.).It is prohibited to eat Pork.
Kosher fowl are primarily those which are not birds of prey (e.g., chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys) and fowl is treated as meat. All of these must be slaughtered and dressed in prescribed manners (by qualified butchers) to be considered kosher. Meat may be eaten following a short interval after eating most soft milk products (or the pallet is cleaned by consuming something that is pareve). However, aged chesses require the same time interval as applies for meat to milk.
Pareve products consist of all neutral substances such as fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, etc. Pareve products may be cooked and eaten together with either meat or milk products. Fish are considered pareve, but they must have both fins and scales to be kosher. Therefore, shellfish, catfish, shark, most bottom feeders, etc. are prohibited. Fish do not have to be slaughtered or dressed in a prescribed manner and generally may be consumed together with milk or meat products at the same meal.
Burial- Cremation, embalming and other defilements of the body are prohibited in Judaism. Autopsies are only permitted as required by law. A medical examiner/coroner has the authority to release a body without conducting an autopsy under most non-homicide circumstances if a doctor signed death certificate listing cause of death is provided. In any case, any autopsy plan should be delayed until consultation with a Jewish authority such as a rabbi or rabbinic board endorsed chaplain.
All Jewish holidays begin at sunset.
Customs: Dipping apples in honey; Casting off "sins" into a river.Leangth- 2 days.Greeting: L'shanah tovah! (For a good year!)
Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year.
2. Yom Kippur
Observances: Fasting, Prayer and Repentance Length: 25 Hours. Greeting: Have an easy fast.
Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast and/or attend synagogue services on this day. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of Tishri. The holiday is instituted at Leviticus 23:26 et seq.
The name "Yom Kippur" means "Day of Atonement," and that pretty much explains what the holiday is. It is a day set aside to "afflict the soul," to atone for the sins of the past year. This day is, essentially, a last appeal, a last chance to change the judgment and to demonstrate one’s repentance and make amends.
Significance: Remembers the wandering in the dessert; also a harvest festival.Length: 7 days.
The Festival of Sukkot begins on Tishri 15, the fifth day after Yom Kippur. It is quite a drastic transition, from one of the most solemn holidays in our year to one of the most joyous. Sukkot is so unreservedly joyful that it is commonly referred to in Jewish prayer and literature as Z'man Simchateinu Z'mn Simchateinu (in Hebrew), the Season of our Rejoicing.
Sukkot is the last of the Shalosh R'galim (three pilgrimage festivals). Like Passover and Shavu'ot, Sukkot has a dual significance: historical and agricultural. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as Chag Ha-Asif Chag Ha-Asif (in Hebrew), the Festival of Ingathering.
4. Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah
Significance: A follow-up to Sukkot; the completion of the annual cycle of Torah readings.Length: 2 days (Some: 1 day).Customs: Limited "dwelling" in the sukkah; dancing and rejoicing with Torah scrolls.
These two holidays are commonly thought of as part of Sukkot, but that is technically incorrect; Shemini Atzeret is a holiday in its own right and does not involve some of the special observances of Sukkot.
Shemini Atzeret literally means "the assembly of the eighth (day)." Rabbinic literature explains the holiday this way: The Creator is like a host, who invites us as visitors for a limited time, but when the time comes for us to leave, He has enjoyed himself so much that He asks us to stay another day. Another related explanation: Sukkot is a holiday intended for all of mankind, but when Sukkot is over, the Creator invites the Jewish people to stay for an extra day, for a more intimate celebration.
Simchat Torah means "Rejoicing in the Torah." This holiday marks the completion of the annual cycle of weekly Torah readings. Each week in synagogue we publicly read a few chapters from the Torah, starting with Genesis Ch. 1 and working our way around to Deuteronomy 34. On Simchat Torah, we read the last Torah portion, then proceed immediately to the first chapter of Genesis, reminding us that the Torah is a circle, and never ends.
Significance: Remembers the rededication of the Temple after it was defiled by the Greeks. Observances: Lighting candles. Length: 8 days. Customs: eating fried foods; playing with a dreidel (top) .
Chanukkah, the Jewish festival of rededication, also known as the festival of lights, is an eight day festival beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev.
Chanukkah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas. Many non-Jews (and even many assimilated Jews!) think of this holiday as the Jewish Christmas, adopting many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate gift-giving and decoration. It is bitterly ironic that this holiday, which has its roots in a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of Jewish religion, has become the most assimilated, secular holiday on our calendar.
6. Tu B'Shevat
Significance: The "new year" for calculating the age of trees. Length: 1 day. Customs: eating fruit or the Seven Species; planting trees (or paying for planting them).
Tu B'Shevat is the new year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing. Fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years; the fourth year's fruit is for God, and after that, one can eat the fruit.
7. Purim-Significance: Remembers the defeat of a plot to exterminate the Jews
Observances: Public reading of the book of Esther while "blotting out" the villain's name. Length: 1 day. Customs: Costume parties; drinking; eating fruit-filled triangular cookies.
Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination.
Significance: Remembers the Exodus from Egypt. Observances: Avoiding all leavened grain products and related foods; Family or communal retelling of the Exodus story. Length: 8 days (Some: 7 days).
Probably the most significant observance related to Pesach involves avoiding chametz throughout the holiday. This commemorates the fact that the Jews leaving Egypt were in a hurry, and did not have time to let their bread rise. It is also a symbolic way of removing the "puffiness" (arrogance, pride) from their souls. It remember that God "passed over" the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt.
9. The Counting of the Omer (S'firat Ha-Omer (in Hebrew)
Significance: Connects Pesach (Exodus) to Shavu'ot (giving of the Torah). Observances: Count the number of days every night.
The counting begins on the second night of Passover, that is, the day after the non-working day of Passover. The counting is intended to remind Jews of the link between Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, and Shavu'ot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah. It reminds Jews that the redemption from slavery was not complete until they received the Torah.
Significance: Remembers the giving of the Torah; also a harvest festival. Observances: Studying Torah. Length: 2 days (Some: 1 day). Customs: Eating dairy foods
Shavu'ot, the Festival of Weeks, it is the second of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Passover and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it commemorates the time when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple, and is known as the Festival of the First Fruits. Historically, it celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and is also known as the “Festival of the Giving of Our Torah”.
11. Tisha B'Av
Significance: Remembers major communal tragedies. Observances: Fasting; reading the book of Lamentations. Length: 25 hours. Customs: Torah cabinet is draped in black.
Tisha B'Av, the Fast of the Ninth of Av, is a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, many of which have occurred on the ninth of Av.Tisha B'Av means "the ninth (day) of Av." It occurs in July or August. Tisha B'Av primarily commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av (the first by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E.; the second by the Romans in 70 C.E.).
Although this holiday is primarily meant to commemorate the destruction of the Temple, it is appropriate to consider on this day the many other tragedies of the Jewish people, many of which occurred on this day, most notably the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and from England in 1290.
HEAVEN AND HELL
In the world to come there is Gan Eden (Paradise) and Gehinom (Hell). If a person did more good deeds than sins on earth that he goes to Gan Eden after death. If his sins are greater than his good deeds than he goes to Gehinom for not more than one year. A person needs to go to Gehinom to clean his soul from sins before he can enter Gan Eden. Jews do not believe in an eternal Hell, only Christians believe in an eternal Hell. The work of any Orthodox Jew is to prepare himself in the corridor in order to be able to enter the palace of heaven.
In Judaism God is merciful and just in the true sense. G-d doesn't torment anyone in hell .He sends everyone to purgatory to revisit their life, which doesn't last more than 1 year. Like Karma, a good life will be pleasantly viewed, a sinful life will be extremely painful. After this, they return to God. The most wicked may be destroyed into nothingness, be left out or something else. Either way there's no torture, as torture plays no purpose in Judaism and God's too wise to hurt people out of retribution without rehabilitation.
It is interesting to note that in Polytheistic religions there was no concept of the " Devil " , nor of a purely evil deity. All "gods" were both good and evil, some more one way than the other, but all were capable of doing good. It was not until the Monotheistic God appeared that the concept of a purely Evil God , with no "good" qualities whatsoever first appeared in the form of the "DEVIL"
The manner in which Jews conduct themselves inside of a particular society as how they relate to their fellow man and to the social structure is in large part determined by the social order in which they grow up. Each country has its particular and differing character which is different from the other countries in the world. This is due in great part to the internal unwritten social values that each particular society esteems and utilizes.
One of the many mannerisms in which this phenomenon surfaces is in the various behavior patterns of the Jewish inhabitants who reside within a particular culture. What happens is that the surrounding values of the gentile culture are absorbed and accepted into the Jewish culture via the media of the native language.
Jews who hail from different cultures feel and think different from their brethren from another land. Jews can utilize this knowledge to weed out those truly foreign values, and replace them with Jewish values.
There is really no strict social order in the Jewish religion. The Rabbi is not really a clergyman like a priest; he gives advice, runs the synagogue and other community events, etc. The Cantor is the man who leads a worship service. He sings/chants, and everyone else follows along in their books. This said, they are not superior to anybody else, they just have a special job to do.
Many lay persons are also trained in specific aspects of Jewish religious practice such as liturgical reading, kosher slaughtering, dietary supervision, ritual circumcision.
There are no sacraments in Judaism. There are specific aspects of Jewish religious practice such as liturgical reading, kosher slaughtering, dietary supervision and ritual circumcision.
PURPOSE OF LIFE
Judaism, like Buddhism, is entirely deeds-based. Christianity and Islam are essentially faith based, meaning you go to heaven no matter what you've done so long as you worshiped the right god and repented. This make no sense in Jewish logic and reasoning.
The purpose of Judaism is to serve God, keep the Torah, avoid sin and pass the tests of life by properly using their free will. Jews honor a life well lived. They remember yahrzeits (anniversaries of deaths) rather than birthdays. The thrust of their mourning practices is to make sure that the values their loved ones tried to live by become part of their lives. The Hesped ,or the eulogy, focuses on the spiritual legacy bequeathed to mourners.
The afterlife is based on the quality and quantity of one’s good deeds, weighed against their bad deeds. It is the entirety of one’s life that is important. One cannot repent a life of bad deeds and be saved. Each person remains responsible for all deeds done in one's life.
Judaism is the smallest of the World’s five main religions with less than 14 million followers World Wide, with about 6 million in Israel and about 6 million in the United States. This compares to over 2 billion Christians and 1.6 billion Muslims. Many Muslims are frustrated in the inability of the Muslim World to defeat Israel in a Military battle and believe that the only way Israel can continue to exist is because it is supported by the United States. Therefore, many Muslims see Israel as the 51st State of the United States and have a deep hatred of America because of its support of Israel.
Judaism is a religion of the individual and relationships; the way individuals can interact with the larger societies of the World, as opposed to a religion that is dedicated solely to the worship of God. Jews worship God, and that is a very important and a central element of their religion, but that is not the main practical focus of their religion. Rather the main focus is to be a good individual who contributes to making a good society, by worshiping God.
Jews do not believe that they will be saved by anyone except themselves. The “Savior” in Judaism is the individual and the Jewish society. They believe that the afterlife will be based on the total good done in life versus the total bad done, not a faith in accepting a savior or a faith in a last minute repentance of ones sins. Judaism does not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, but believes that the Messiah is yet to come.
Judaism is the oldest of the three “Abrahamic Religions” of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is the third oldest of the major modern active religions of the World behind Hinduism and Buddhism, in that order The oldest surviving Hebrew Bible manuscripts date to about the 2nd century BCE.
A new unproven , but very interesting and seemingly credible, theory proposes that Moses was actually the Pharaoh Akhenaten (who was known before the fifth year of his seventeen year reign as Amenhotep IV) .It proposes that hundreds of years before his birth there was a minor Exodus from Egypt by some Egyptians who subsequently formed the country of Israel (which name means: Is=Here is, ra= Egyptian name for God, and el= Jewish name for G-d, all together meaning “Here (or in this place) is the Egyptian and Jewish God”). Today Christians and Jews end most prayers with the word “Amen” , which is an Egyptian name which comes from the name “Amen-Ra” who was the king of the Egyptian Gods.
Akhenaten was the first monotheistic Pharaoh. He threw out many of the old deities that had been around for thousands of years, which angered many Egyptians. Eventually there was an uprising and he was deposed as Pharaoh and was banished from Egypt with his followers into the desert . His wife, Nefertiti, was named the new Pharaoh and was known as Smenkhare. She ruled a few years and was replaced by one of the Pharaoh’s sons by another wife, Tutankhamen.
In his 70’s Akhenaten came back to Egypt to attempt to re-establish his monotheistic religion but was unsuccessful and retreated back into the desert with his followers .Eventually, after wandering the desert, he returned to Israel. His body, and that of Nefertiti have never been found .Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon, who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen, are said to have found some hidden scrolls in the tomb which were then permanently secreted away and which described this story of Moses.The name ‘Moses” in Egyptian means “of the house of Pharaoh”.
Judaism was dealt a severe blow by the Holocaust in World War II, but at the same time that resulted in the reestablishment of a new Jewish homeland in Israel with much of the rest of the World recognizing must be protected from destruction. This has caused a conflict between Muslim countries and much of the rest of the world, which continues today.
Scott Ramsey, July 28th, 2015