The HISTORY • 4000 years ago tribes of people inhabited the Middle East – Jews. • The first Jew (according to the Jewish Bible) was Abraham. • Abraham heard a voice telling him to leave Mesopotamia and travel to a land he would be shown – Israel.
The Covenant • The voice offered a covenant. If Abraham recognised the voice as that of God and followed His instructions, then his descendants would become a great nation. • Abraham obeyed and the years passed with the Israelites accepting Abraham’s God and seeing Abraham as the father of their nation and religion.
Suffering • Abraham’s grandson (Jacob) and his family had to leave Israel and travel to Egypt because of a famine. • The Pharaoh forced them to work as slaves. • There were many years of suffering and Abraham’s God was almost forgotten until a new leader – Moses heard the voice of God telling him to ask Pharaoh to let His people go.
The Passover • Moses asked the Pharaoh to release the Israelites, but he refused. • God sent 10 plagues to punish the Egyptians, the last was the worst; all the first born, Egyptian sons were killed. • The Israelites had been told to put a red mark on their doors so that the angel of death would ‘pass over’ their houses. • The Pharaoh let them go but then changed his mind and had them followed. • God parted the Red Sea. After the Israelites had crossed safely Pharaoh’s armies drowned.
The Torah • After leaving Egypt the Israelites wandered for many years until they came to Mount Sinai. • God called Moses to the top and gave him the Torah (teachings in Hebrew). • The Torah contains the first five books of the Christian Bible. • The Jewish Bible is what Christians refer to as the Old Testament, it contains the writings of the prophets and the psalms. • Every week part of the Torah is read from the scroll. The Scroll of the Torah is the most sacred object in a synagogue.
The Torah is the holiest book in Jewish life. It contains 613 commandments. From the time of Moses they were passed by word of mouth but later they were written down. The yad (hand) is used to point to the words, this is to preserve the text. The Torah Scroll
The Ark of the Covenant • The 10 commandments were given to Moses on the mountain top. • The Torah tells how the stone tablets they were written on were kept in a golden box called the Ark of the Covenant. • The Israelites carried this box wherever they went.
The most important thing in the synagogue is the Holy Ark. The scrolls are kept inside it. They are carried out from the Ark to be read and when they are returned they are wrapped in covers. In front of the Ark is a lamp which is always lit. It reminds Jews that God is always there. The Holy Ark
The Temple • The Israelites entered their promised land (Israel) after Moses died. • King David made Jerusalem the centre of worship. • His son, Solomon built a Temple to house the Ark. • Jews worshipped there for hundreds of years until the Romans destroyed their Temple and drove them out of their land. • The Jews scattered all over the world and have mourned the loss of the Temple ever since. • They look forward to the coming of the Messiah and the re-building of the Temple.
Rites of Passage • Brit Milah (Circumcision). When a baby boy is 8 days old (& in good health), this simple operation is carried out. He is then blessed and named. Baby girls are blessed and named either at home or in the synagogue.
Rites of Passage • Bar / Bat Mitzvah Bar Mitzvah – 13 year old boy Bat Mitzvah – 12 year old girl This is a ceremony to mark the passage to adulthood. The young people study Hebrew and learn to read and sing and recite passages from the Torah and the Prophets. Friends and relatives listen in the synagogue and then they celebrate with a meal and presents.
Rites of Passage • Marriage. • More orthodox Jews prefer their children to marry other Jews but this is not always the case. • Ceremonies take place at home, in the synagogue or out doors. • The couple exchange rings, they stand under a canopy (chupa) to symbolise the openness and harmony of a Jewish home. They exchange a contract (Kelubah) and they sip from a glass of wine. The glass is then broken to show that the couple must accept both good and bad. The guests shout ‘Mazel tov’ (congratulations).
Rites of Passage • Death • The dead body is treated with as much respect as when alive. A watcher sits with the body until after the funeral. A light is kept alight. They are buried as soon as possible and are buried in plain coffins with no flowers. Mourners greet one another by saying ‘We wish you a long life’ as they are mainly concerned with the living. A week of mourning (Shiva) follows the funeral.
Kosher Food • Kosher means fit or correct. • Many of these laws are mentioned in the Torah and others have come from Rabbi interpretations. • Animals that have cloven feet and chew the cud are kosher although they have to be slaughtered to minimise pain and the blood needs to be drained from the animal as blood contains life.
Kosher Food • Meat and Dairy products cannot be eaten together and a Kosher household has 2 separate food preparation areas and 2 sets of utensils. • Only fish with both fins and scales can be eaten, so no shellfish or crab. • Fruit, vegetables, rice, eggs and pulses are acceptable with either meat or dairy but fruit needs to be checked carefully as insects are not kosher. • All plants are kosher.
The tallit is a prayer shawl. It is 4 cornered with fringes that are knotted to represent the laws of the Torah. The kippah is a head covering worn during worship. Some followers wear it all the time. It is a sign of respect. Artefacts
A mezuzah The Shema – a central statement of faith for Jews is written on parchmentand kept in a box called a mezuzah. This is fixed to doorposts in Jewish homes. It can be kissed or touched on entering the room as an acknowledgement of God’s presence. Artefacts
The kiddush cup Kiddush means blessing. The kiddush cup can be any glass or goblet. In itself it is not special but because it is used at the start of the Shabbat meal for a blessing many people have special cups. Artefacts
Tephillin These are two small boxes worn by men during morning prayer. They contain the words of the Torah written on parchment by a scribe. One is worn on the forehead (mind) and one on the non-writing arm, facing inwards (towards the heart). Artefacts
Jewish Festivals • Pesach (Passover) • Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur • Shavuot • Sukkot • Purim • Hanukkah
TASKS In small groups, choose one of the following: • Passover (Pesach) (KS1 or 2) • Hanukkah (KS1 or 2) • Jewish home life (KS1 or 2) • The Synagogue (KS2) What can you find out? Can you think of any activities that would support the children’s learning? Be ready to share the information with the whole group.