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Origins of Judaism

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  1. Origins of Judaism • Basic Beliefs, Observances • and Symbols

  2. Basic Beliefs Chosen People • Believe God chose Jewish people for a special responsibility • Torah and mitzvot • Passing special messages to the rest of the world • Does not mean Jews believe they are better than other people • Monotheism • Most basic belief • Mono = one • Theism = belief in God • Midrash (Jewish legend) • Abraham smashed all father’s idols and blamed the idols • Father responded, “They are just wood and stone” • “If you really believe that idols are only stone and wood why do you worship them?”

  3. Messiah • Hebrew word = anointed • Christ = messiah (Greek) • Human being who will bring the world to a time of complete peace in which every person will recognize and worship one God • Messiah will gather all Jews to Israel, Temple rebuilt, resurrection of the dead • Torah • Originally written in Hebrew • Written/read from right to left • Part of the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) • Torah • First 5 books of Christian Bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy • Nevee’eem • Books of prophets like Joshua, Samuel, Isaiah • Ketuvim • Writings like Proverbs, Psalms, Ester. etc

  4. Observances Tzedakah (charity) • Asked to give certain percentage to charity • Usually 10-15% of income • Obligated to pray 3 times a days – morning, afternoon and evening • Shema • Important statement of Jewish belief • Amidah • Silent prayer to ask God for certain things • Specialty prayers when praying with a minyan • Prayers Kashrut (dietary laws) • Kosher – proper to eat • Only split-hooved animals that chew cud • Certain types of fowl • Fish with fins and scales • Forbidden to mix dairy and meat in same meal • Animals killed in specific way

  5. Sundown on Friday til dark on Saturday • Shabbat meal with challah (braided egg bread) • Time set aside to rest • Symbolic of God’s 7th day of rest • Refrain from creative acts which change the state of the world • Shabbat (the Sabbath) Bar/Bat Mitvah • Boy = 13 years plus one day • Girl = 12 years plus one • Become responsible for observing all of mitzvot of Judaism • Literally means ‘son (or daughter) of the commandments

  6. B’nai Mitzvah • The first picture is my sister, Brittany, and I holding a Siddur, our prayer book. The vast majority of the service is done using this book. • Behind us is the Ark, which is open and you can see parts of four different Torahs inside it • I am wearing a Tallit, which is received by men during the Bar Mitzvah - in order to read from the Torah, men must wear a Tallit, and since we are allowed to read from it for the first time during our Bar Mitzvah, we receive the Tallit then too • The next photo is me reading my portion again - note that I am using a pointer (I'm sure it has a formal name), this is because even with the privilege of reading from the Torah, we still aren't supposed to touch the text/paper

  7. Kiddushin = sanctification • Public ceremony to commit themselves to each other • Ketubah = Jewish marriage contract signed by 2 witnesses • Agree to cherish, honour and maintain each other • Marriage • Bride wears veil –symbolic of Rebekah and traditions of modesty

  8. Marriage • Takes place under a chapah = wedding canopy • Represents home that bride and groom will create together • 7 special blessings • Break the glass recalling destruction of Temple

  9. Tradition teaches that body should be returned to earth as quickly and naturally as possible • Do no permit cremation or embalming • Use coffins made entirely of wood • Most funerals take place within a day or two • Body dressed in plain linen garments by Havra Kadisha = ‘the holy society’ Death • Torah teaches that human beings were created when God took a clod of earth, formed it into a human figure and breathed life into it • Shiva = seven • First seven days following the funeral • Mourners prohibited from excessive grooming • Customary to cover the mirrors in the home • Allows mourners to focus on their grief • Recite the mourners Kiddish (prayer) • Reaffirms one’s belief in God even after tragedy

  10. Symbols • Synagogue • Jewish house of worship • Also serves as community and education center • Main services on Friday night and Saturday morning • Rabbi is religious leader and speaks weekly Torah • Bimah (raised platform) at front of the sanctuary • Aron Kodesh (holy ark) which holds the Torah scrolls • Ner Tamid (eternal light) above the Aron representing constant presence of God

  11. Symbols • Kippah Tallit • 4-cornered garment worn during morning prayers • Tzitzit (fringes) tied to the corners • To remind Jews of the commandments of the Lord • Tallit Katan (small Tallit) • Small undershirt worn all day • Sometimes called a Yarmelka or skullcap • Signifies that human beings are beneath, or dependent, on God

  12. Symbols • Attached to right side of doorpost as you enter a room • Has first 2 paragraphs of the Shema on it • Prayer for peace in the home • Mezuzah Star of David • 6-pointed star only popular in last 200 years • Named for King David, who has shield with star on it • Magen David (shield of David) appears on flag of the state of Israel

  13. Holidays and Celebrations • Lunar calendar • Every month begins with appearance of new moon • Month is 29-30 days long • 12 month lunar year is shorter than solar year • Every 2-3 years, Jewish calendar adds a ‘leap month’ to adjust calendar • Jewish Calendar • Based on number of years since creation • Each day begins at sundown

  14. Holidays and Celebrations • One of two High Holy Days • Jewish New Year • Usually in Sept or Oct • Ram’s horn blown to symbolically ‘wake up’ people to lead better lives • Eat apples and honey as a wish for a sweet new year • Rosh Hashanah • Beginning of the 10 Days of Repentance • End on Yom Kippur • Reflect on actions during the past year, seek forgiveness and make a plan to improve

  15. Holidays and Celebrations • One of two High Holy Days • Day of Atonement • Marks end of 10 Days of Repentance • Devoted to fasting and prayer • Fast which lasts from sundown to nightfall the following day • Ram’s horn blown to mark end of fast • Yom Kippur

  16. Pesach (Passover) • Israelites smeared lamb’s blood on doorpost • To avoid 10th plague God sent to Pharaoh • Death of all first-born Egyptian children • Angel of death literally ‘passed over’ their homes • the Passover the Exodus • No time for the bread they were preparing to rise • Took ‘unleavened’ bread during their escape • Jews today eat ‘matzah’ during Passover week • Unleavened cracker-like bread • Represents bread of poverty

  17. Pesach (Passover) • A pilgrimage festival during Nisan in late March or April • Gather to share special meal • Special foods to remind them about hardship of slavery and miracle of the Exodus • Seder plate containing 5 (or 6) items of food • Tell story of Passover from special book called a Haggadah • Seder • Maror • Bitter herb – bitterness of slavery • Charoset • Mixture of apples, walnuts, cinnamon and wine – mortar use to build Egyptian cities • Z’roah • Roasted bone – Passover offering • Beitzah • Roasted egg – new life in springtime • Karpas • Green vegetable, dipped in salt water – tears of slavery • Hazeret • Bitter vegetable – bitterness of slavery

  18. Hanukkah • King Antiochus, Syrian King, forbade Jews to keep Shabbat or keep traditions • Tried to force Jews to worship Greek Gods • Destroyed the Temple • Inspectors destroyed Torah scrolls and killed those who disobeyed • Mattityahu (Mattathias) and 4 sons refused to obey King’s orders • Fled to hills and fought against Syrians • Led by Judah, called Maccabee • Hebrew for ‘hammer’, because of his strength • Poorly equipped and outnumbered but they WON • Defeated Syrians and recaptured Jerusalem

  19. Hanukkah • Occurs in December • Giving gifts is common • Temple cleansed of idols and rededicated • Small container of lamp oil found, enough for 1 day • Burned for 8 days! • Festival of Lights Symbols • Menorah • 8-branched candle holder • candle lit each night • Shamash • Nineth candle used to light other candles • Driedel • Top used in spinning game

  20. Judaism Today Jerusalem • King David • Made Jerusalem the Capitol in 996 BCE • Brought Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant • Solomon • Built Temple on Mount Zion to replace mobile Tabernacle • Destroyed in 586 BCE by King Nebuchadnezzer • Exiled Jewish popluation • Temple rebuilt (516) and destroyed again (446) • Western Wall • Only part remaining of 2nd Temple • Became holiest of Jewish places • People write notes and leave them in cracks of the wall

  21. Judaism Today • Jewish Population • Today there are over 18 million followers of Judaism scattered throughout the world • A large number of those people live in the Jewish nation of Israel • Over six million live in the United States

  22. Driedel Game • A driedel is a four-sided top. Each side has a Hebrew letter on it: nun, gimmel, hay and shin. These four letters stand for the Hebrew words that mean “a great miracle happened there “. • The players sit in a circle. Each player receives an number of tokens (candy, nuts, coins) and puts 1 token from his/her pile into the center. Everyone takes turns spinning the dreidel. The letter on top when the dreidel stops spinning tells what to do. • Nun: • Do nothing • Gimmel: • Take the center pile • Hay: • Take half the center pile • Shin: • Give half of your pile to the center pile Players that lose all their tokens are out. The last player with tokens is the winner.