The Tanakh is the Hebrew Bible in which the Torah is the first five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). Torah is the most important of all Jewish texts. It contains sacred stories and all 613 commandments. Jewish people believe in the completeness of the torah. There is nothing missing in the Law that one needs to live a righteous life. The scriptures used in services are handwritten written on parchment scrolls with Hebrew calligraphy with “crowns” ( marks coming up from the upper points on many of the letters resemble crowns or a crow’s foot). People are not allowed to touch the scrolls with your hands because they are believed to be too holy. Instead, a “pointed Yad” (“Yad” in Hebrew means “hand”) is used. It is a pointer in the shape of a hand with a pointing index finger.
"The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread" (Found in The Exodus):
This story tells of freeing of the "Children of Israel" (the Jews believing in him) from slavery in Egypt. God helped their escape by inflicting 10 plagues upon the Egyptians until the Pharaoh released the Israelites. The final and worst plague was the death of all the firstborns in the land. To save their own firstborn children, Israelites were instructed to draw a cross on their doors using the blood of a lamb. This would help the Angels of Death determine which homes to "pass over". The unbelieving Pharaoh's firstborn son was killed in this plague.
This is more commonly known to Jews as the Passover story or the pesach. Origins of the unleavened bread were from the story that the Israelites had left in such a hurry that they had not time to wait for the bread to rise (to leaven). Matzo is the symbolic, unleavened bread eaten today to commemorate the holiday.
Orthodox and Conservative remain keen to acknowledge the threefold Jewish divide of the Kohen, Levi(te) and Yisrael class groups, depending on their patrilineal descendants.
The priests. It had its origins from the man, "Aaron the Priest" (brother of Moses) and it was believed that the Kohen were direct descendants from this line.
Though not priests, the Levites are traditionally considered more pure of faith and had a more cultivated wisdom than their Yisrael counterparts. The Kohen and Levites were called up to the Torah at synagogues,
The majority of Jewish people. They are considered to have descended from other tribes or have no clear records of their ancestry. Converted Jews also fall under this category.
There are 13 Jewish Principles of Faith. Those 13 principles summarize their beliefs and can be likened to the Catholic Creeds.
Here are their 13 Principles as created by Maimonides:
The most significant belief they have, in comparison to Catholic Christianity, is that they do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. The Bible says that he will:
Judaism through the eyes of a thirteen year old Jewish girl:
She has quite a deep understanding of her religion and its origins. Her favourite part was the feast during Shebbat with her family because she liked to feel their togetherness. It is also a time of prayer and reflecting the Mysteries. Her father is a Rabbi so she is exposed to a certain degree of piety within the family. It was also hinted at that she has had to learn to deal with stereotypes relating to her being Jewish and her Rabbi father.
She and her family, like many other Jewish family, walk to synagogue every week, observe Shebbat and observe the diet appropriate for other religious occasions. For example, during Shebbat, their kosher (proper food) must not contain meat or shellfish with matzah bread being a staple. During pesach (passover), their meals cannot contain yeast, they eat lettuce dipped in salt water (symbolizing the salt of their enslaved ancestors) and even eat under a straw hut reminiscent of the straw huts in the desert where the Jews lived after escaping slavery.
Her Bat Mitzvah was a cause for great excitement to her family as well as herself. It took her 8 months to prepare for the traditional synagogue service that she will conduct by herself, singing and reciting the Torah in Hebrew. Her Mitzvah is her becoming a “Daughter of the Commandments”, when young Jews become responsible for their behavior and role in community service.
- The number “7” reflects the Creation (the Torah teaches that the world was created in six day and God rested on the seventh day). The Menorah contains 7 candles.
- Mezuzah: The mezuzah can be found on the house entrance door of Jewish homes. It is a constant reminder of God’s presence and his mitzvot (his 613 commandments). When passed, you touch the mezuzah then kiss the fingers that touch it, expressing love and respect for God’s mitzvot.
Main Jewish ethics are found in these passages of the Torah:
Some commonplace rituals the Jewish people perform are:
This process honours the covenant of Abraham. It is an operation in which the foreskin of the baby boy's penis is removed by a certified and experience mohel (a Jewish person especially trained for this religious ritual). The operation is usually performed in the home, accompanied by a special liturgy and with a gathering of friends and family. Symbolically, the prophet Elijah is an honoured guest in the hope that this child will grow to be the messiah who will redeem Israel. A chair is set aside for the prophet, in the hopes that he will make an appearance to welcome the child. The sandek (a chosen "stepfather", like an uncle) is the person who is honoured with holding the child during the ceremony.
It is the most important ritual in Judaism. It is a day of rest, spiritual enrichment and for family. It involves two commandments: to remember Shabbat and to observe Shabbat. With Zakhor (to remember), one must remember the origins of Shabbat---the Creation story and God's resting on the seventh day plus its being a reminder of freedom and the Jews' escape from Egyptian slavery. With Shamor (to observe), one is prohibiting from working or performing anything else the require effort such as erasing, building, stitches, business transactions, driving, shopping, cooking, gardening, chores in generals etc. Electricity is generally prohibited during the Shabbat. Turning appliances on and off should also be avoided. The feast consumed during Shebbat must be prepared for in advance. Shebbat begins on Friday night and ends on Saturday night. Feast (seder) preparation and light switching must be done before the sun sets on Friday evening!