Judaism began about 3,700 years ago in Canaan, now Palestine and
Abraham is the father of the Hebrew people (Jews). God established
His covenant with Moses who emancipated the enslaved Jewish tribes
Jews are divided into Orthodox, Conservative and Reform sects with
other regional and ethnic divisions.
The basic source of Jewish belief is the Hebrew Bible (called the “Old
Testament” by Christians), especially its first five books, called the
Torah or the Pentateuch. The Torah was traditionally regarded as the
primary revelation of God and his law to humanity; it is considered as
valid for all time. Its laws were clarified and elaborated in the
oral Torah, or the tradition of the elders, and were eventually
written down in the Mishnah and Talmud. Jewish literature on legal,
ethical, philosophic, mystical, and devotional is virtually endless.
About 14 million worldwide; over half in the U.S.
The goal of Judaism lies in the strict obedience to God which can
alleviate the plight of the individual and of society, bringing
rewards in the future life when the Messiah will come to overthrow
evil and reward the righteous in God’s kingdom on the earth, the Day
of the Lord. The soul thereafter will enjoy God’s presence and love
Path of Attainment:
Man has two impulses; good and evil. He can either follow God’s law
or rebel and be influenced by Satan, who caused God’s creation to go
astray. To follow God’s law is the highest morality, possible through
obedience to the Torah, which pleases God. One must follow justice,
charity, ethics and honesty, being true to the one true God, Yahweh.
The religion of the Jews is inseparable from their history as a
people. By far the most profound characteristic of Judaism is its
strict monotheism. The Jews hold an unshakable belief in one God and
one God only, whom they call Yahweh, from whom all creation flows.
Much of the Torah traces the ancestry of Abraham through Isaac, Jacob,
Joseph, and finally to Moses, the foremost of God’s prophets in Hebrew
history. It was Moses who gave Judaism the Ten Commandments and
established the religious laws and traditions.
The Ten Commandments for Worship and Conduct taken from Exodus
* You shall have no other gods besides Me.
* You shall not make for yourself a sculptured image, or any likeness
of what is in the heavens above, or on the earth below, or in the
waters under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.
* You shall not swear falsely by the name of the Lord, your God.
* Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. The Lord blessed the
Sabbath day and hallowed it.
* Honor your father and your mother
* You shall not murder.
* You shall not commit adultery.
* You shall not steal.
* You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
* You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, male or female
slave, ox or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
The first four commandments are on religious belief and worship, the
other commandments are on conduct and proper relationship with the
The Jewish people consider themselves a chosen people apart from all
the other peoples of the earth by virtue of their covenant with
Yahweh. They do not believe that they were chosen for any special
privileges but rather to bring God’s message to humanity by their
Much stress is placed on the hallowing of daily existence, worship in
the synagogue, prayer and reading of the scriptures. Few religions
can boast of such a close-knit family tradition as Judaism, making the
home a great strength to the religion and a constant refuge to the
faithful. Each day, morning and evening, every devout Jew affirms his
faith by repeating Moses’ prayer, “Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the
Lord is one”.
Judaism has a system of law, known as Halachah, regulating civil and
criminal justice, family relationships, personal ethics and manners,
social responsibilities such as help to the needy, education, and
community institutions as well as worship and other religious
Some elements of Persian religion were incorporated into Judaism: a
more elaborate doctrine of Angels; the figure of Satan; and a system
of beliefs concerning the end of time, including a predetermined
scheme of world history, a final judgment, and the Resurrection of the
dead. These ideas were expounded in many visionary documents called
apocalypses; none of them were included in the Hebrew Bible except in
the Book of Daniel.
Individual practices still widely observed include the dietary laws
(Kosher); rules concerning the marital relationship, daily prayer, and
study; and the recital of many blessings, especially before and after
meals. The Sabbath and festivals are observed both in the home and in
the Synagogue, a unique institution for prayer and instruction that
became the model for the church in Christianity and for the mosque in
The Sabbath, from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, is observed by
refraining from work and by attending a synagogue service. Friday
evening is marked in the home by the lighting of a lamp or candles by
the woman of the household, the recital of the Kiddush (a ceremonial
blessing affirming the sanctity of the day) over a cup of wine, and
the blessing of children by parents. The end of the Sabbath is marked
by parallel ceremonies called Havdalah. Similar home ceremonies occur
on the other festivals.
The holidays prescribed in the Torah are the two “days of awe,” Rosh
Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and three
joyous festivals, Passover, Shavuoth (Feast of Weeks), and the Feast
of Tabernacles. Later additions are the festive occasions of Chanukah
and Purim, and the fast of the Ninth of Av (Tishah be-Av),
commemorating the destruction of the Temple.
The Jewish religious calendar, of Babylonian origin, consists of 12
lunar months, amounting to about 354 days. Six times in a 19 year
cycle a 13th month is added to adjust the calendar to the solar year.
The day is reckoned from sunset to sunset.
In the One God and Creator who is incorporeal and transcendent, beyond
the limitation of form yet who cares for the world and its creatures,
rewarding the good and punishing the evil.
In the Prophets of which Moses was God’s foremost, and the Ten
Commandments revealed to him by God on Mount Sinai as man’s highest
In the Torah as God’s word and scripture, composed of the five Old
Testament books. They are God’s only immutable law.
That upon death the soul goes to Heaven (or to Hell first if it has
been sinful), that one day the Messiah will appear on earth and there
will be a Day of Judgement, and the dead shall physically arise to
That the universe is not eternal but was created by and will be
destroyed by God.
That no priest should intervene in the relationship of man and God,
nor should God be represented in any form, nor should any being be
worshipped other than the One God, Yahweh.
In man’s spiritualization through adherence to the Law, justice,
charity, and honesty.
That God has established a unique spiritual covenant with the Hebrew
people to uphold for mankind the highest standards of monotheism and
In the duty of the family to make the home a House of God through
devotions and ritual, prayers, sacred festivals, and observation of
the Holy Days.