What is Judaism?
Judaism is a religious tradition with origins dating back nearly four thousand years, rooted in the ancient near eastern region of Canaan.Judaism traces its heritage to the covenant God made with Abraham and his lineage — that God would make them a sacred people and give them a holy land.Jews refer to the Bible as the Tanakh, an acronym for the texts of the Torah, Prophets, and Writings. The primary figures of Israelite culture include the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophet Moses, who received God's law at Mt. Sinai.
Tanakh-the canonical collection of Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, with a few passages in Biblical Aramaic.
Talmud-The Talmud is the comprehensive written version of the Jewish oral law and the subsequent commentaries on it.The Talmud is the source from which the code of Jewish Halakhah (law) is derived.
Midrash-developed through the interpretation of the biblical texts. Largely nonlegal in character, it contains imaginative elaboration of the stories and ideas of the Holy Books.
Shabbat-Shabbat is recognized as a day of rest and prayer for Jews. It typically begins at sunset on Friday and lasts until nightfall on Saturday.Most observant Jews celebrate Shabbat by reading or discussing the Torah, attending a synagogue or socializing with other Jews at Shabbat meals.
Jewish Signs and Symbols
Chai is the Hebrew word for life, it consists of two Hebrew letters—chet and yud. This is a Jewish symbol that frequently appears on pendants and other jewelry. Chai also refers to the number 18 because each Hebrew letter has a numerical equivalent which is considered a special number in Jewish tradition.
o Kippah is a clothing worn by Jews which varies according to the denomination of Judaism they adhere to. Orthodox Jewish men always wear a kippah while Liberal or Reform Jews consider it optional, but most Jews will cover their heads when praying, and etc. This head covering is a sign of respect and fear of God, and it separates God and human, by wearing a hat you are recognizing that God is above all mankind. Many Jews feel that by wearing a kippah they are proudly announcing to the world that they are Jewish.
o Dreidel is a spinning top, with four sides, each marked with a different Hebrew letter (nun, gimel, hay, and shin). Playing dreidel on Hanukkah is based on a legend that, during the time of the Maccabees, when Jewish children were forbidden from studying Torah, yet they studied it anyways. When a Greek official would come close they would put away their books and take out spinning tops, claiming they were just playing games. The letters on the dreidel are the first letters in a Hebrew phrase that means “A Great Miracle Happened There” (There being the land of Israel).
o Menorah(Hanukkah Menorah) is a nine-stemmed candelabra (eight flames plus one shamash also know as a “helper candle”) used on Hanukkah. This is different from the seven-candled Menorah used in the ancient temple in Jerusalem, the hannukiyah symbolizes the miracle of the holiday, when an amount of oil suitable for one day of light burned for eight days.
o Mezuzah is a small box placed on the right doorpost of Jewish homes, and inside the box is a scroll with verses from the Torah and the Shema prayer inscribed on it. This concept of a mezuzah comes from the Torah, where we read, “And you shall inscribe them on the doorposts (mezuzot) of your house and on your gates”. Some people believe that the mezuzah provides special protection over the residents of the home where it hangs, and when they pass by it some people touch the mezuzah with their hand, then kiss their hand.
o Shofar is a ram’s horn that is blown like a trumpet, it makes four sounds: tekiah, shevarim, teruah, and tekiah gedolah which remind many people of a crying voice. Hearing the shofar’s call is a reminder for us to look inward and repent for the sins of the past year. It calls to mind the image of the ram stuck in the bush that Abraham ultimately sacrificed instead of his son — reflecting our own sometimes difficult parent-child relationship with God. The most common place to hear the Shofar is in the synagogue especially if you attend for the High Holidays shofar is blown on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, yet the it is not to be blown on Shabbat.
o Star of David is a symbol commonly associated with Judaism and the Jewish people. The double triangle of the Star of David symbolizes the connection of both the Torah and Israel. The Star of David is an important symbol of the Jew and the Jewish people, but it is just that: a symbol. We have to live, think, and behave as a Jew. We can do this by putting a mezuzah on your door, study some Torah, eat kosher food, welcome the Shabbat with candles and a festive meal, and you’ve will become a living Star of David.
o Tallit soma prayer shawl made from wool, cotton, or synthetic fibers traditionally worn during morning prayers. In Orthodox communities, a tallit is traditionally worn by me, though women in non-Orthodox congregations — and sometimes in Orthodox partnership minyans — wear them as well as a matter of personal choice. Tzitzit are the tassels affixed to the four corners of a tallit, and they are also sometimes s affixed to a four-cornered undergarment that is also called a tzitzit. The practice of wearing a tzitzit, traditional by men, is biblical in origin.
Tefillin (aka phylacteries) are cubic black leather boxes with leather straps that Orthodox Jewish men wear on their head and their arm during weekday prayer. The boxes contain four hand-written texts from the Bible (Exodus 13:1-10, 13:11-16; Dueteronomy 6:4-9, 11:12-21) in which believers are common to wear certain words on the hand and between the eyes. The arm tefillin is put on first, on the upper part of the weaker arm, and a blessing is recited and the strap wrapped round the arm seven times.The blessing:“Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to put on Tefillin.” The head tefillin is loosely fastened on the head about one centimeter above a person's original hairline. A blessing is recited and the strap is tightened with the knot at the back of the head.The strap of the hand tefillin is then wound three times around the middle finger while reciting Hosea 2:21-2.
o Torah Scroll is the five Books of Moses (alternatively the Pentateuch, or Chumash in Hebrew) written on parchment that is read aloud in synagogues on Shabbat and holidays. Yad is a pointer, commonly made of metal or word, that is used by the synagogue Torah reader to keep place in the Scroll.
The synagogue, which is often referred to as a temple, is the Jewish place of worship, Jews all over the world would regularly gather their to pray. In the front of the synagogue is the Holy Ark, a a cabinet in which the Torah scrolls are housed. There is nothing intrinsically holy about synagogues, beyond the presence of the Torah and true quorum or worshipers using it as a place of religious devotion. This is because all traditional synagogues, both in Israel and the Diaspora since the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, have been considered but temporary places of worship-in-exile.
The Land of Israel played a significant role in the life and thought of the Israelites, and it is the sacred birthright of the Jewish people. The holiest city is Jerusalem, which is the place God chose for his presence to dwell in. The holiest place in Jerusalem is the Temple Mount, where the two Holy Temples stood. Since Jews can no longer go there, the Western Wall, which hugs the western embankment of the mountain, has become the central place for Jewish prayer. It is also known as the Kotel (“wall”).
History of Judaism
The biblical period begins with Abraham around 1800 BCE. Abraham was promised by God to be “father of all nations.” He was called on by God to leave the country of Mesopotamia in search of a foreign land, Canaan. Here, Jews formed nomadic tribes and gradually settled into an agricultural system. When Canaan was in a drought the Jews moved to Egypt where they were later enslaved. In 1250 BC, Moses freed the Jews from Egypt and lead them back to the promised land of Canaan. During the 40 years it took to get to Canaan, Moses died and left Joshua to lead the people. After settling in Canaan, the Jews became a confederation of tribes where they were lead by a kingdom. In 1050, they were lead by Kings Saul, David, and Solomon. After King Solomon’s death, the kingdom was split in two- the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah. Around 722 BC, Israel fell to the Assyrians. Then by 586 BC, Babylonians conquered the Judeans. Fifty years later, the Persians conquered the Babylonians and allowed the Hebrew people to return to their land. Some did and others Rabbinic Period
Due to foreign occupation, many Jews decided to not live in Judea- this was called the Diaspora. After Alexander the Great conquered much of the known world and Greek ruler Antiochus prohibited the practice of Judaism, the Jewish family of the Maccabees led a revolt in 168 BCE and regained control of the Temple in 165 BCE. During this time period, the Jewish people separated into three groups, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Essenes. The romans brought Greeks rule to an end in Judea during 63 BCE. In 70 CE, the romans destroyed the Temple and the Jews had to reintegrate their religious practices without it. The Sadducee and Pharisee sects disappeared and rabbis gained popularity. Jewish schools and Torah commentaries were established. During the end of the first century tension broke out among Jews that believed Jesus was the messiah and others that were still waiting. In 130, Simon bar Kociba let a revolt against the Romans who wanted to build a shrine to the god Jupiter in Jerusalem. The Roman leader Hadrian put down the revolt and banned Jews from returning to Jerusalem. At the end of the fourth century, after Constantine became emperor, he declared Christianity as the world wide religion for his empire.
During this period, the diaspora grew even further away and Jews started to live in places they have never before. There was a resurgence of science, mathematics, philosophy and commentaries on the Bible and Talmud. The most famous philosopher was Moses Maimonides who said that the Jewish religion and the philosophy of Aristotle had no contradiction. At the beginning of the seventh century, many Jews were persecuted by Muslims. On the other hand, Jews in Babylon were flourishing under Persian rule and Jews in Spain were during even better! In Spain with Muslims, Jews excelled in such works as science, medicine, philosophy, metal crafts, and trade. Unfortunately it came to an end when the Muslims forced the Jews to flee. Moses ben Maimon, whom I mentioned earlier, and his family were also forced to flee during this time. This is when Maimon became very famous for his theological and philosophical writings. Unfortunately, persecution continued for the Jews when the Christian Crusaders wanted to regain the Holy Land. During this time the Jews were forced to wear curtain clothes or live in certain areas so people would know that they were Jewish. They only way to stop the humiliation was to covert to Christianity. Because of all of the massacres King Boleslav of Poland invited Jews to his country- where they then thrived until the seventeenth century. During the fourteenth century, Jews were blamed for the Black Plague and were expelled by even more countries. During the Reconquista, Jews in Spain were forced to convert and if they didn’t they were put to death. In 1492, Jews who had never converted to Christianity were expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella. This period left the majority of Jews poor and they struggled to even practice their own faith.
This period welcomed the Age of Enlightenment. With this also came a Jewish enlightenment that allowed Jews to finally see equality in many countries. Expect for in Czarist Russia. Czar Alexander III created the May Laws against Jews. In 1930, Reconstructionist Judaism emerged. They advocated that Judaism is a culture and religion. At the end of the nineteenth century, Zionism began. This meant many Jews returned to their homeland of Palestine. After the Holocaust during the 1930s and 1940s, the USA returned Palestine to the Jews in 1948. In 1967, the State of Israel recaptured the whole of Jerusalem during the Six Day War. This meant all ancient holy places were now open to visitors.
Hanukkah is a Jewish festival commemorating the recovery of Jerusalem and subsequent
rededication of the Second Temple at the beginning of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid
Empire in the 2nd century BCE. It is also known as the Festival of Lights.
• Hanukkah 2021 will begin in the evening of Sunday, November 28 and ends in the evening of
Monday, December 6
• The main event of the Passover holiday is the seder (literally, “order”), a festive meal in which the
haggadah (the book of exodus and related writings) is recited in a set order. During the entire duration of the holiday, it is forbidden to eat leavened food products (such as bread, pasta, etc.). The reason for this is that Jewish tradition states that in their haste to escape from Egypt the Jews did not have enough time to wait for bread to rise. Instead, they ate matzah, unleavened bread. Part of the Passover seder includes hiding the afikoman (half of a matzah that is kept between two other matzahs during the seder and later hidden). Children search for the afikoman and usually receive a prize for finding it.
• Passover 2022 will begin in the evening of Friday, April 15 and ends in the evening of Saturday, April 23. Purim is a Jewish holiday which commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, an
Achaemenid Persian Empire official who was planning to kill all the Jews in the empire, as
recounted in the Book of Esther. Haman was the royal vizier to King Ahasuerus.
• Purim 2022 will begin in the evening of Wednesday, March 16 and ends in the evening of
Thursday, March 17
o Rosh Hashanah
• Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is one of Judaism’s holiest days. Meaning “head of the year” or “first of the year,” the festival begins on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, which falls during September or October. Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a 10-day period of introspection and repentance that culminates in the Yom Kippur holiday, also known as the Day of Atonement. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the two “High Holy Days” in the Jewish religion.
• Rosh Hashanah 2021 begins on Monday, September 6, 2021 and ends on the evening of Wednesday, September 8, 2021.
• The holiday celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai as well as the grain harvest for the
summer. In biblical times, Shavuot was one of three pilgrimage festivals in which all the Jewish
men would go to Jerusalem and bring their first fruits as offerings to God.
• Shavuot 2022 will begin in the evening of Saturday, June 4 and ends in the evening of Monday, June 6
Sukkot is a Jewish Holiday that celebrates God for the completed harvest. This holiday is referred to as the “Harvest Festival”. Sukkot is celebrated by dwelling in a foliage- covered booth (called the Sukkah). The Sukkah must consist of two and a half wall and a roof made of branches and leaves. It is important that one can still see the sky when inside the Sukkah.
• Sukkot 2021 will begin in the evening of Monday, September 20 and ends in the evening of Monday, September 27
o Yom Kippur
• Is also called The Day of Atonement. Is considered the most important holidays in the Jewish
faith. According to tradition, it is on Yom Kippur that God decides each persons fate, so Jews
encourage to make amends and ask for forgiveness for sins committed during the past year.
• This year Yom Kippur 2021 will begin in the evening of Wednesday, September 15 and ends in the
evening of Thursday, September 16
o Yom HaShoah
• On the 27th of the Hebrew month of Nisan, Yom HaShoah, commonly known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, takes place. The Shoah, which in Hebrew means “catastrophe” or “total annihilation,” refers to the crimes committed against Jews during World War II. This is a day to remember those who suffered and died during the Holocaust. Forced labor, malnutrition, humiliation, and torture, which sometimes led to death, were among the horrors the Jews and other persecuted groups suffered, which is remembered on Yom HaShoah.
• Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) 2022 in Israel will begin in the evening of Wednesday, April 27 and ends in the evening of Thursday, April 28
Denominations in Modern Judaism
Reform Judaism occurred when Jews began to migrate into the contemporary world. They sought a way to connect with their neighbors. Reform
Judaism is the most liberal branch of modern Judaism.
Reform In order to adapt to the social, cultural, and
political situation of the modern world, Judaism has
either abandoned or changed many traditional Jewish
religious observances. The concept that the laws and
rituals were derived from mobility in the modern world. In
their prayers, Jews shortened instrumental music in their
hopes of a personal messiah who would bring them back
to the land of Israel. Judaism began to spread when it
was introduced. The Reformers questioned the Bible's
requirement for strict observance. Germany had
introduced the service and made it possible to worship.
They also abandoned the concept that one day all Jews will be annihilated. It took some time for this reform to take root in the United States.
Orthodox Judaism is a tradition that contains both written and oral law, which includes Talmudic teachings and writings by rabbis and teachers of Judaism.
Orthodox Jews believe the Bible's account as well as the Talmud's,
and later Orthodox Judaism has its own rituals, such as male and
female forbidding prayers and ceremonies. As binding, instrumental music needs rigorous adherence to Moses' revelation at Sinai, as well as Jewish legal codes. resisted modern temptations to alter daily worship, dietary rules, frequent and thorough Torah study, and synagogue separation. It is also observed at communal rituals, sabbaths, and religious festivals.
Conservative Judaism is made up of people who share some of the same values as Reform Judaism but are dissatisfied with some of its beliefs. These individuals founded the Conservative Moment, a movement that was willing to accept change at a slower pace than Reform Judaism. Judaism as a historically evolving religion that prioritized
the preservation of Jewish law in light of present conditions
and continual interactions with God in each generation.
Conservative Jews argue that traditional Jewish religious
regulations and the Sabbath should be preserved, whilst
moderate Conservative Jews argue that modernisation
should be embraced. Many dietary observances are
observed by Orthodox Jews, yet they have also ordaining women as rabbis.
Judaism in South Florida
Conservative: Temple Beth Israel
Address: 481 Sawgrass Corporate Pkwy, Sunrise, FL 33325
Services: weekday mornings Minyan, weekday Mincha’s, Shabbat morning services, Shabbat mincha service, Sunday morning & holiday Minyan, Sunday morning & holiday Mincha
Orthodox: Downtown Jewish Center Chabad
Address: 900 E Broward Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 Website: https://www.downtownjewish.com
Services: daily breakfast, and Torah class Monday-Friday, Shabbat in the morning, and night, djcc chai kiddush club, Yizkor form, and services for all other Jewish holiday’s
Reform: Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El
Address: 8200 Peters Rd, Plantation, FL 33324
Services: daily minyan, Sunday minyan, Erev Shabbat, Shabbat, Siddurim Sim Shalom, Lev Shalem siddur. And all other Jewish holidays