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Judaism Origins Judaism is the oldest monotheistic religion, and the history of Judaism cannot be separated from the

history of the Jewish people. Its foundation lies in the original covenant made between Abraham and God, circa 1900 BCE, when Abraham was called to leave his home in Ur and travel to Cannan (later known as Palestine and Israel), a land which God promised to give to his descendants. The second and chief covenant was made 450 years later when Moses led the Jews out of slavery in Egypt (the exodus) back to the lands of Canaan. At Mt Horeb (Sinai), God gave the Jewish people the 10 Commandants and other rules to live by (contained in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible), marking the beginning of Judaism as a structured religion. History and Spread Jewish civilisation after the exodus prospered in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, originally headed by powerful kings like Saul, David and Solomon, who built the first great temple in Jerusalem. In 586 BCE, the Babylonians overran Jerusalem, taking many captives into exile and destroying the temple. A second temple was built when the Jews returned about 538 BCE, to be destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. This destruction was decisive for the future of Judaism, replacing a sacrificial religion based around a temple with a tradition of studying and learning centred around local synagogues. By around 100CE, the canon of the Hebrew Bible was fixed. Between 200 and 700 CE, scholars compiled the Mishna, the definitive code of Jewish law. The Talmud (written interpretation of the scriptures) was compiled and the rules for the Jewish calendar were laid down. These scriptures and teachings were the basis of the religious worship that was practised around the world during the Jewish diaspora (exile). The two defining modern events for this community in exile were the Holocaust (1939-45), in which over six million Jews were killed by the Nazis, and the creation of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948. Key Movements Orthodox or traditional Judaism is Talmudic in belief and practices, and largest of the modern sectarian groupings Hasidism was a mystical movement emphasising ecstatic communion with God, which was developed in 18th Century Poland and central Europe Progressive Judaism is the term for liberal and reform movements which emerged in 19th Century Europe to adapt Judaism to contemporary living. It is critical of Talmudic fundamentalism and welcomes scientific research on the Bible. It commonly uses the vernacular in worship Conservative Judaism is a predominantly American form midway between Orthodox and Reform traditions Judaism is also divided into the Ashkenazi tradition (the majority), a northern European stream of Judaism, and the Sephardic tradition (the minority), developed in Spain, Portugal and the Middle East Organisational Structure Judaism is not hierarchical. The local synagogue is at the heart of Jewish religious activity, led by a rabbi (teacher). Rabbis are not priests all worshippers can approach God without an intermediary; liberal Judaism accepts female rabbis. Rabbis carry considerable authority within their stream of Judaism, but liberal and orthodox do not recognise each others rabbis as authoritative or representative. Councils of rabbis provide a network of support and coordination; Britains chief rabbi has some standing across the British Commonwealth. Key Beliefs Jews believe in the one living God who is transcendent, omnipotent, just and who reveals himself to human beings. The Hebrew word for this one true God is JHWH, or Yahweh. Shema: Jewish profession of faith. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One recited at morning and evening service. Central text is the Torah, or Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible, revealed to Moses). Talmud: written interpretation and development of the Hebrew scriptures, in two versions, Palestinian and Babylonian.

Orthodox Jews follow strict dietary laws. Kosher (suitable) is the word used to describe food prepared in accordance with religious law. There is no instinctive evil, original sin or fundamental impurity in human beings since people are made in Gods image. The Jewish view of God A summary of what Jews believe about God God exists God can do anything at all. There is only one God God is beyond time: There are no other gods God has always existed God can't be subdivided into different persons God will always exist. (unlike theChristian view of God) God is just, but God is also merciful Jews should worship only the one God God punishes the bad God is Transcendent: God rewards the good God is above and beyond all earthly things. God is forgiving towards those who mess things God doesn't have a body up. Which means that God is neither female nor God is personal and accessible. male. God is interested in each individual God created the universe without help God listens to each individual God is omnipresent: God sometimes speaks to individuals, but in God is everywhere, all the time. unexpected ways. God is omnipotent: The Jews brought new ideas about God The Jewish idea of God is particularly important to the world because it was the Jews who developed two new ideas about God: There is only one God God chooses to behave in a way that is both just and fair. Before Judaism, people believed in lots of gods, and those gods behaved no better than human beings with supernatural powers. The Jews found themselves with a God who was ethical and good.