Judaism is the Jewish religion. It is one of the oldest of the great world religions, and is the mother religion of both Christianity and Islam. Judaism was not founded by one towering personality, as were most other religions. Abraham and Moses are not regarded as founders. Abraham was the “father of the Hebrew people” and Moses was the “law-giver”. With the destruction of Solomon’s temple at Jerusalem in 586 B. C. began the scattering of the Hebrews over many lands. From then on Judaism developed as a religion without the priestly class of the ancient temple.
Moreover, Judaism is one of the oldest beliefs that are still observed and practiced up to the present and considered as one of the first recorded “monotheistic” faiths. The Jewish’s values and history are the main part of the foundation of different Abrahamic religions like Christianity, Islam, Samaritanism and the Baha’i Faith. In 2006, Judaism’s devotees are approximately 14 million that makes Judaism faith as the eleventh-biggest organized religion globally. Unlike with other religions, Judaism is totally distinct in such a way that its “central authority is not vested in any person or group” but it abides in its writings and traditions.
This would mean that Judaism religion does not have a head or a leader that oversees them but they rather obey what is written in its writings and traditions. Moreover, the Judaism church is continually bound to a number of religious practices and beliefs, specifically its belief that there is one, omnipotent, omni benevolent, transcended omniscient God who made the heavens and the earth and continually have its control over mankind. The conventional Jewish belief stated that the God who made the universe had made a covenant with the Jewish people only and gave his laws and commandments through Torah.
Judaism‘s belief and practices are focused on these laws and commandments (see Asheri, Michael. Living Jewish: the Lore and law of the Practicing Jew, 1999). According to Jewish law, anyone who has a Jewish mother counts as a Jew, even if he or she is not religious. Many Jews do, however, actively follow the religious practices of Judaism. Judaism is one of the world’s oldest religions, beginning some 3,500 years ago in the Middle East. Today, there are about 18 million Jews. They live all over the world, but mostly in the United States, Europe and Israel.
There are many different groups of Jews with different ways of practicing their faith. The main groups are Orthodox, Reform and Conservative Jews (see Jacobs, Louis. The Book of Jewish Belief (Behrman House, 2000). The intents of this paper are to: (1) know what Judaism is and how it started; (2) understand the relationship with God/Torah; (3) be aware of the history of Key Sacred Texts; (4) be familiar with the different Sects of Judaism; (5) be acquainted of the sacred practices and/or holidays; (6) get to know about the Ten Commandments and; (7) oriented about the Judaism today.
Background A. The Nation of Israel and Jerusalem According to the Jewish holy books, the first Jew was a man called Abraham, who is known as the father of the Jewish people. He was the leader of a group of nomadic people, called the Hebrews. At that time, the Hebrews worshipped many different gods. Abraham taught his people that there is only one God and that they should worship only him. Jews believe that God made a covenant, or agreement, with Abraham. If Abraham and his people worshipped God and lived good and just lives, God would look after them and give them a land of their own to live in.
This was the Promised Land of Canaan (see Shenker, Israel. Coat of many Colors: Pages from Jewish Life (Doubleday, 2001). The Jews settled in Canaan but centuries later, famine forced their descendants to move to Egypt in search of food. They worked for the Egyptians but were treated like slaves and their lives were extremely miserable. God remembered his promise to Abraham and sent a man called Moses to lead the Jews to freedom. Several times, Moses asked the Pharaoh to let the Jews go, but each time he refused.
Only after God sent ten terrible plagues to Egypt did the Pharaoh change his mind. Moses led the Jews out of Egypt and into the desert. After 40 years of wandering, God guided the Jews back to the Promised Land (see Prager, Dennis, and Joseph Telushkin. Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism (Simon & Schuster, 1999). The Jewish scriptures are called the Tenakh. They are divided into three parts—the Torah (5 Books of Teaching), the Nevi’im (21 Books of the Prophets) and the Ketuvim (13 Books of Writings).
The initials of the three parts—T, N and K—give the word Tenakh. For Jews, the Torah is the most important part of their scriptures because it contains the rules that teach Jews how to live their lives. These are the teachings that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai during the Jews’ journey through the desert. They are summed up by ten rules, or commandments (see Musaph-Andriesse, R. G. From Torah to Kabbalah: a Basic Introduction to the Writings of Judaism (Oxford University, 1998).