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Hasidic Jew
Introduction to Judaism




Jewish Signs and Symbols




The Menorah



Hamesh Hand
Hamesh Hand





Judaism text image
image of Judaism horn and books


Jewish Worshipper at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem
Jewish Worshipper at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

Studying Jewish texts at the Western Wall

Jewish Father and Son
Jewish Father and Son read from the Torah

Rabbi York


Judaism is the oldest of the Western religions. It originated amongst the nomadic Hebrew (Greek: no land) tribes around 1200 BC but much of its scripture dates from 7th century BC. Judaism combines elements and ideas from Egypt (the story of the young Moses by the Nile, many of the proverbs, circumcision) and Babylonia (the stone tablets containing the laws received atop a mountain, the Creation, flood stories). It is likely that Moses was a composite mythological character rather than a real person. The books of the Jewish Bible (known as the Old Testament to Christians and as The Law and The Prophets to the Jews) are composed from a number of sources dating from before 2000 BC to around 250 BC.

Jewish Flag

Jews believe they are God's Chosen People. They live by a Lunar calendar and have many strict dietary rules (e.g. they don't eat pork or animals without legs). Their Holy city is Jerusalem and they consider the land of Israel to be theirs by divine right. All boys are circumcised early in their lives and many wear skull caps.
Worship is at a Synagogue which was developed under the Greeks around 250 BC.
Jewish Service
A Jewish service takes
place inside a synagogue.

Richard T. owitz/Corbis

The Great Synagogue
The Great Synagogue
Jewish Rabbi

The language of the liturgy is Hebrew. The holy day is Saturday (from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset since the Jewish day begins at sunset). Their single god has the Hebrew name JHWH (no vowels in the Hebrew script) which has an unknown pronunciation but which is usually rendered as Yahweh or Jehovah. This name (called the Tetragrammon from the Greek for four letters) is supposed to only be pronounced by the high priest on the Day of Atonement.

Hasidic Jew

There are many sects of Judaism. Hasidic Jews wear 18th century European clothes and have long sideburns. They are very strict in their observance of Jewish Law. Jews are found in most parts of the world but mainly in Israel, USA and Europe.

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