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an introduction to Judaism, Jewish culture, and the Jewish community


Title: Slide 1 Author: ADL Last modified by: Liz Feldstern Created Date: 12/28/2007 7:24:00 PM Document presentation format: On-screen Show (4:3) Company – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: an introduction to Judaism, Jewish culture, and the Jewish community

an introduction to Judaism, Jewish culture, and
the Jewish community
Overview of the Jewish Community
  • Approximately 14 million Jews world-wide
  • (lt0.2 of the world population, about 2 of
    US population)
  • In Nebraska, approximately 6,000 Jews
  • The Jewish community is ethnically,
    linguistically and religiously diverse

  • One of the oldest world religions
  • First major religion to state that there is one
  • Begun by Abraham, considered the father of the
    Jewish people
  • The Jewish Bible is called the Tanakh or Hebrew
  • The Tanakh is made up of three parts
  • Torah (Five Books of Moses)
  • Prophets
  • Writings

Judaism, cont.
  • Judaism has changed and evolved through its 3,000
    years of existence.
  • Today, there are 4 major branches or movements
    within Judaism
  • Orthodox Judaism
  • Conservative Judaism
  • Reform Judaism
  • Reconstructionist Judaism

Central aspects of Judaism
  • God
  • Torah
  • Israel (both the people Israel and the land of

  • Many Jews affiliate with a particular branch of
    Judaism, but some Jews simply identify themselves
    as Jewish or only identify culturally, rather
    than religiously, with being Jewish.
  • Even within each major branch of Judaism, there
    is a variety in emphasis and practice depending
    on the local context and culture, and individual

In a nutshell
  • One God all powerful, all knowing
  • God created the universe and everything in it
  • God has definite expectations for all human
    beings, and especially Jews
  • How do we know? ? The Bible
  • (either written by God or divinely inspired)

Rules for Relationships
  • Relationship between Humans and God
  • Examples - rest on Sabbath, observing holidays,
    rules of kashrut (kosher)
  • Relationship among Humans
  • Examples - social justice (giving charity, caring
    for widows and orphans, the poor), visiting the
    sick, comforting mourners, rejoicing with brides
    and grooms on their wedding day
  • Relationships between Humans and Nature
  • Examples - respect for animals, awe for natural
    wonders, imperative to plant trees, special
    relationship to the land of Israel

MORE Big Picture Ideas
  • Judaism is focused on life and living. Jews
    traditionally believe that if they follow Gods
    ways they will be blessed in this lifetime
    (health, happiness, prosperity, fertility) and if
    they do not follow Gods commands they will be
    cursed in this lifetime (sickness, poverty)
  • Judaism believes in an afterlife, but does not
    dwell on it.
  • Each person is obligated to look at the world
    around them and find a way to make it better.

Other topics things to know about judaism
  • Any questions before we move on?

  • Jewish place of worship
  • Communal institution of Jewish life
  • Space where many public activities and life cycle
    events of Jewish life take place
  • Rabbi trained scholar in Judaica, teacher of
    Jewish texts and traditions. Rabbis often lead
    prayer services, though any learned Jew can lead
    the service.
  • Cantor/Hazzan specially trained singer who
    chants the worship service and leads the musical
    and vocal parts of the prayers.

  • Uniform of Jewish prayer
  • Kippah or yarmalka head-covering
  • (Some Jews wear these all the time)
  • Talit prayer shawl
  • Tefillin phylacteries
  • (worn in morning prayers, not used during

Worship, cont.
  • Judaism is a communal religion. A minyan (quorum
    of ten adults/men) is required to recite certain
  • Observant Jews pray three times a day.
  • Most prayers are recited in Hebrew, although in
    Reform synagogues, many of the prayers are in

Kashrut (jewish dietary laws)
  • Part of the 613 commandments in the Torah
  • Dictate the slaughter of animals, preparation of
    food, and prohibit certain foods
  • Jews follow these laws to differing degrees
    depending on their level of observance
  • Kosher food is often marked with one of the
    following symbols

Major Aspects of Keeping Kosher Include
  • Separation of meat/poultry from dairy products
    (when eating, as well as dishes, utensils, etc.)
  • No pork or shellfish (including by-products, such
    as lard)
  • Only meat/poultry that is slaughtered and
    prepared according to Jewish law
  • Note The best way to accommodate Jewish dietary
    needs is to buy packages goods marked kosher, or
    mark foods containing meat or dairy, or provide
    fresh vegetables or fruit (as they are always

The jewish calendar
  • The Jewish (Hebrew) calendar is a luni-solar
  • 7 days per week
  • 12 months per year (13 in a leap year)
  • 29 or 30 days per month
  • 354 days per year (384 in a leap year)
  • Jewish days start at sunset and end at sunset, 24
    hours later.
  • Because of this - Jewish holidays begin at
  • Currently the year 5774 in the Hebrew calendar.
  • Use divisions of B.C.E. Before Common Era or
    C.E. Common Era when referring to
    the Gregorian year.

jewish holidays
  • Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, is the most
    important of all holidays.
  • Five major holidays
  • Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year)
  • Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
  • Sukkot (Festival of Booths)
  • Pesach (Passover)
  • Shavuot (Festival of Weeks)

  • At sunset on Friday night, Jews may welcome the
    Sabbath by
  • Lighting special candles and saying a prayer
  • Saying a prayer over a cup of wine or grape juice
  • Saying a prayer and eating a braided bread called
  • Attending Shabbat services at the synagogue
  • These rituals are also used to begin all other
    major Jewish holidays.

Shabbat, cont.
  • Begins every Friday at sunset and lasts until
    sunset on Saturday
  • Day of rest, reflection and rejuvenation
  • Many Jews attend synagogue services and the Torah
    is read
  • Labor and work are prohibited

Rosh hashanah
  • The Jewish new year
  • Falls sometime in September or October
  • Two day holiday
  • Begins a solemn 10-day season of self-examination
    and self-judgment in the life of a Jew
  • Jewish people attend synagogue at special
    services where the shofar (rams horn) is
  • Traditional to eat challah that has been formed
    into a circle to symbolize a full year. Also
    traditional to eat apples or challah dipped in
    honey to symbolize the hope for a sweet year.

Yom kippur
  • Day of Atonement
  • Ends the 10 days of repentance that began with
    Rosh HaShanah
  • Jewish people attend synagogue to pray for
    forgiveness from God and from anyone they have
  • Jews must also ask for forgiveness directly from
    the people they may have wronged
  • Jews fast during this solemn holiday and usually
    mark the end of the fast and holiday with a
    celebratory meal
  • Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are known as the
    High Holy Days

Other HoliDays
  • Sukkot (Festival of Booths eight days)
  • Recalls the Jews journey through the desert
    after being freed from Egyptian slavery, Jews
    build a sukkah (temporary booth) in which to
    dwell during the holiday
  • Pesach (Passover)
  • Commemorates the Exodus of the Jews from Egyptian
    slavery into Israel
  • Shavuot (Festival of Weeks or Pentecost)
  • Shavuot celebrates the receiving of the Torah and
    the late spring/early summer harvest

Other Festivals or Commemorations
  • Hanukah (Festival of Lights, in December)
  • Tu BShevat (Jewish Arbor Day, late January or
    early February)
  • Purim (Festival of Lots, late February or early
  • Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day, late
    April or May)
  • Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day, late April
    or May)
  • Yom HaAtzmaut (Israeli Independence Day, late
    April or May)
  • Tishah BAv (Commemoration of the Destruction of
    the Temple, mid-July to early August)

Jewish Life Cycle Events
  • Brit Milah (Circumsion)
  • Bar/Bat Mitzvah
  • Marriage
  • Death
  • Commemorating the anniversary of a loved ones

Bar or Bat Mitzvah
  • Bar Mitzvah for a boy, Bat Mitzvah for a girl
  • Rite of passage that Jewish boys and girls
    perform on their twelfth or thirteenth birthday
    to mark their transition into adulthood
  • Usually involves leading a Shabbat prayer service
    and reading from the Torah

Features of a Jewish Home
  • Mezuzah a decorative container holding parchment
    inscribed with a passage from the Torah that is
    affixed at an angle to the right doorpost of a
    Jewish home. A mezuzah may also be placed on any
    doorpost in the home except the bathroom.
  • Tzedakah box A collection box in Jewish homes
    that serves as a constant reminder of the need
    and responsibility to give to charity.

Issues of concern for the Jewish community
  • Antisemitism
  • The Holocaust
  • Israel

  • Prejudice and/or discrimination against Jews
  • Stereotypes of Jews are still prevalent and need
    to be addressed
  • Can be based on hatred against Jews because of
    their religious beliefs, their membership
    (ethnicity) and sometimes on the erroneous belief
    that Jews are a race

The Holocaust
  • Also known as the Shoah
  • Systematic, state-sponsored murder of 6 million
    Jews and millions of other people by the Nazis
    and their collaborators during World War II
  • Watershed event in Jewish history
  • Important to be sensitive to the fact that
    members of the Jewish community may have had
    relatives who perished in or survived the
  • Some people try to claim the Holocaust never
    happened, they are called Holocaust-deniers

  • Central to Judaism and Jewish culture for as long
    as Judaism has existed
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict primarily a
    political, not religious, conflict
  • Important to consider your sources to get
    accurate and balanced information when learning
    about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Thank you!