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Jewish Religion

About Jews : Jews are followers of Judaism or, more generally, members of the Jewish people (also known as the Jewish nation or the Children of Israel). Judaism is the oldest of the Western religions. It originated amongst the nomadic Hebrew (Greek: no land) tribes around 1200 BC. Judaism is the foundation for religions such as Christianity and Islam. It is one among the three great monotheistic faiths that emphasis on the Semitic existence one God who is incorporeal, all knowing and all-powerful. Judaism emphasizes that every individual is created in the image of God and that all people are to be treated with dignity and respect due to each. The Jews serve God by study, prayer and by the observance of the commandments specified in the Torah.

Jewish Denominations : The Jewish community is divided into a number of religious denominations as well as "branches" or "movements." Each denomination accepts the certain Jewish principles of faith but differ in their various views on issues such as level of religious observance, biblical authorship, textual criticism, the nature of Moshiach and the Messianic age, and Jewish services.

Jewish Ethnic Division : The Jews are divided into four ethnic groups.
  • Ashkenazi - Jews who lived in Germany or France, before they moved to Eastern Europe. (42 % of the world's Jewish population)
  • Sephardic - Jews who lived in Spain or Portugal. (37 %)
  • Oriental Jews - Jews who lived in Middle East and North Africa before moving to Central Asia and South Asia.
  • Yemenite Jews - They are also known as Teimanim. They were initially Oriental Jews but developed a distinct set of practices for themselves.
There are also Ethiopian Jews also known as Falasha, the Jews who live in Bombay, India called Bene Israel, Cochin Jews residing in Cochin India, the Romaniotes, Greek speaking Jews living at Balkans. Some small groups are nearing extinction as a result of assimilation and intermarriage into surrounding non-Jewish cultures or surrounding Jewish cultures.
Founder : Abraham is considered to be the founder of Judaism

Time of Origin : Around 1800 BCE

Place of Origin : Palestine, their Holy city is Jerusalem

Population : It is estimated that there are about 13-14 million Jews in the world.

Regional Spread : A vast majority of Jews live in the United States and Israel, each with approximately 5-6 million Jews. There are less than 2 million Jews in Europe, 400,000 in Latin America and 350,000 in Canada. In Africa, there are less than 100,000 Jews, about 90% of whom live in the country of South Africa. There are about 100,000 Jews in Australia and New Zealand combined. There are about 50,000 Jews in Asia (excluding Israel).

Important Figures : Abraham, Moses (who delivered the laws of God to the Israelites)

Religious Texts : The Bible (The Old Testament) is the most important Jewish religious text. It consists of the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings. The Tanakh and Talmud are two important holly books of the Jews.
  • The Tanakh - This is the Jewish Bible. It is written in Hebrew and is also known as the Hebrew Bible.
  • The Talmud - The Talmud contains the Judaism's oral law.
  • The Torah - This is the primary document and religious book of the Jewish. Torah contains teachings, instructions and laws that govern the Jewish community and people.
  • The Mishnah - The Mishnah is the first work of Rabbinic Judaism. It contains the oral law of the Jewish and is considered as the core of Judaism religious texts.
Sacred Language : Hebrew is the sacred language of Judaism

Place of Worship : Jewish place of worship is called Synagogue

Sacred Symbols : The sacred symbol of Judaism is the Star of David which is a six-pointed star, formed by placing two triangles together, one upon the other, or interlaced. atively, of Surya, the sun. Food Habits : Jewish diet is regulated by the Laws of Kashrut ("keeping kosher") or the Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with Jewish law is termed kosher, and food not in accord with Jewish law is termed treifah or treif. Kashrut involves the abstention from consuming animals that eat other animals, and that roam the sea floor eating the excretions of other animals, therefore excluding birds/beasts of prey and seafood (other than fish), respectively. Also, mixing meat and milk is not allowed, as this is viewed as cooking the child in its mother's milk. The food laws are rationalized on grounds of hygiene. But some say the practice is based on spiritual beliefs as it avoids "negatives" such as pain, sickness, unclean animals or abusive practices in its preparation.

Marriage Preference : In Judaism engagement for marriage was generally brought about by a third person, often a professional matchmaker ("shadchan"). The process is called Shidduchim. The shadchan received a "brokerage-fee" fixed by law or agreed upon by custom, as a rule a small percentage of the dowry. The rabbi, as a person enjoying special confidence, was also often employed as intermediary. Although the marriage preliminaries were the concern of the parents, their children were not forced into marriage over their objections.

Orthodox Judaism strictly forbids inter-religious marriage as well as any sexual intercourse with a member of a different faith. Intermarriage is seen as a deliberate rejection of Judaism, and an intermarried person is effectively cut off from most of the Orthodox community. However, some Chabad Lubavitch and Modern Orthodox Jews do reach out to intermarried Jews. The ketubah is a marriage contract used at Jewish ceremonies over the centuries for 2500 years.

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