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Origins of Judaism. Basic Beliefs, Observances and Symbols. Basic Beliefs. Monotheism. Chosen People. Believe God chose Jewish people for a special responsibility Torah and mitzvot Passing special messages to the rest of the world

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origins of judaism

Origins of Judaism

Basic Beliefs, Observances

and Symbols

basic beliefs
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

  • 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?”


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

  • 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


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

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
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

  • 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
b nai mitzvah
B’nai Mitzvah

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 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
  • 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

Bride wears veil –symbolic of Rebekah and traditions of modesty

  • 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

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

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


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’

  • 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


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

  • 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



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


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

  • 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
holidays and celebrations
Holidays and Celebrations

Jewish Calendar

  • 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
  • Based on number of years since creation
  • Each day begins at sundown
holidays and celebrations1
Holidays and Celebrations

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

  • 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
holidays and celebrations2
Holidays and Celebrations

Yom Kippur

  • 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
pesach passover
Pesach (Passover)

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

  • 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
pesach passover1
Pesach (Passover)



Bitter herb – bitterness of slavery


Mixture of apples, walnuts, cinnamon and wine – mortar use to build Egyptian cities


Roasted bone – Passover offering


Roasted egg – new life in springtime


Green vegetable, dipped in salt water – tears of slavery


Bitter vegetable – bitterness of slavery

  • 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

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

  • 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

Festival of Lights



8-branched candle holder

candle lit each night


Nineth candle used to light other candles


Top used in spinning game

  • 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!
judaism today
Judaism Today

Western Wall


King David

Made Jerusalem the Capitol in 996 BCE

Brought Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant


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)

  • Only part remaining of 2nd Temple
  • Became holiest of Jewish places
  • People write notes and leave them in cracks of the wall
judaism today1
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
driedel game
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 “.

Players that lose all their tokens are out. The last player with tokens is the winner.

The players sit in a circle. Each player receives an number of tokens (candy, nuts, coins) and puts 5 tokens 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