Portal:Judaism

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Judaism (from the Greek Ioudaïsmos, derived from the Hebrew יהודה, Yehudah, "Judah") is the religion of the Jewish people, based on the principles and ethics embodied in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), as further explored and explained in the Talmud. Judaism is among the oldest religious traditions still practiced today and is considered one of the world's first monotheistic faiths. At the core of Judaism is the belief in a single, omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent God, who created the universe and continues to govern it. In 2007, the world Jewish population was estimated to be 13.2 million people—41 percent in Israel and the other 59 percent in the diaspora. The traditional criterion for membership in Judaism or the Jewish people has been being born to a Jewish mother or taking the path of conversion.

Jewish tradition maintains that the history of Judaism begins with the Covenant between God and Abraham (c. 1800 BCE), the patriarch and progenitor of the Jewish people. According to the traditional Jewish belief, God also created another covenant with the Israelites (the ancestors of the Jewish people), and revealed his laws and commandments (Mitzvot) to them on Mount Sinai in the form of the Written Torah. Traditional Judaism also maintains that an Oral Torah was revealed at the same time and, after being passed down verbally for generations, was later transcribed in the Talmud. Laws, traditions, and learned Rabbis who interpret these texts and their numerous commentaries comprise the modern authority on Jewish tradition. While each Jew's level of observance varies greatly, the traditional practice of Judaism revolves around the study and observance of God's Mitzvot.

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Selected Article

Joseph's Tomb is a funerary monument located at the eastern entrance to the valley that separates Mounts Gerizim and Ebal, on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Nablus, near the site of Shechem. Biblical tradition identifies the general area of Shechem as the resting-place of Joseph and his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh. Joseph's tomb has been venerated throughout the ages by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Post-biblical records about the Tomb's location at this site date from the 4th century. The present structure, a small rectangular room with a cenotaph, dates from 1868. Modern scholarship has yet to determine if the cenotaph is the ancient biblical gravesite. No sources prior to the 5th century mention the tomb, and the structure originally erected over it appears to have been built by the Samaritans.

Joseph's Tomb has witnessed intense sectarian conflict. Samaritans and Christians disputing access and title to the site in the early Byzantine period often clashed violently. After Israel captured the West Bank in 1967, conflict from competing Jewish and Muslim claims over the tomb became frequent. Though under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority after the signing of the Oslo Accords, it remained under IDF guard with Muslims prohibited. At the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000, just after being handed over to the PNA, it was looted and razed by a Palestinian mob. Following Israel's reoccupation of Nablus in the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield, Jewish groups returned there intermittently. Recently the structure has been refurbished, with a new cupola installed, and visits by Jewish worshipers have resumed. (Read more...)

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Monument to the Ghetto Heroes

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History Article

The Hurva synagogue in 2010

The Hurva Synagogue is a historic synagogue located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Founded in the early 18th century by followers of Judah he-Hasid, it was destroyed by Muslims a few years later in 1721. The plot lay in ruins for over 140 years and became known as the Ruin, or Hurva. In 1864, the Perushim rebuilt the synagogue, and although officially named the Beis Yaakov Synagogue, it retained its name as the Hurva. It became Jerusalem's main Ashkenazic synagogue, until it too was deliberately destroyed by the Arab Legion, hours after the withdrawal of the Israeli forces during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

After Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, a number of plans were submitted for the design of a new building. After years of deliberation and indecision, a commemorative arch was erected instead at the site in 1977, itself becoming a prominent landmark of the Jewish Quarter. The plan to rebuild the synagogue in its 19th-century style received approval by the Israeli Government in 2000, and the newly rebuilt synagogue was dedicated on March 15, 2010. (Read more...)

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PikiWiki Israel 5195 Seder Tu BShvat 2007.JPG

a Tu Bishvat seder

Credit: Israeli Pikiwiki project

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Featured Quote

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Judaism Jewish History Israel

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Yitro (יתרו)
Exodus 18:1–20:23
The Weekly Torah portion in synagogues on Shabbat, Saturday, 20 Shevat, 5776; January 30, 2016
"God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I the Lord am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage: You shall have no other gods besides Me.’" (Exodus 20:1–2.)
view from Mount Sinai

Moses’ father-in-law Jethro heard all that God had done for the Israelites and brought Moses’ wife Zipporah and her two sons Gershom (“I have been a stranger here”) and Eliezer (“God was my help") to Moses in the wilderness at Mount Sinai. Jethro rejoiced, blessed God, and offered sacrifices to God. The people stood from morning until evening waiting for Moses to adjudicate their disputes. Jethro counseled Moses to make known the law, and then choose capable, trustworthy, God-fearing men to serve as chiefs to judge the people, bringing only the most difficult matters to Moses. Moses heeded Jethro’s advice. Then Moses bade Jethro farewell, and Jethro went home. Three months to the day after the Israelites left Egypt, they entered the wilderness at the foot of Mount Sinai. Moses went up the mountain, and God told him to tell the Israelites that if they would obey God faithfully and keep God’s covenant, they would be God’s treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. When Moses told the elders, all the people answered: “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the people’s words to God. God instructed Moses to have the people stay pure, wash their clothes, and prepare for the third day, when God would come down in the sight of the people, on Mount Sinai. God told Moses to set bounds round the mountain, threatening whoever touched the mountain with death, and Moses did so. At dawn of the third day, there was thunder, lightning, a dense cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud blast of the horn. Moses led the people to the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was all in smoke, the mountain trembled violently, the blare of the horn grew louder and louder, and God answered Moses in thunder. God came down on the top of Mount Sinai, and called Moses up. God again commanded Moses to warn the people not to break through. God spoke the Ten Commandments:

1768 Decalogue parchment by Jekuthiel Sofer
  • “I the Lord am your God.”
  • “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.”
  • “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.”
  • “You shall not covet . . . anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Seeing the thunder, lightning, and the mountain smoking, the people fell back and asked Moses to speak to them instead of God. God told Moses to tell the people not make any gods of silver or gold, but an altar of earth for sacrifices. God prohibited hewing the stones to make a stone altar. And God prohibited ascending the altar by steps, so as not to exposed the priests’ nakedness.

Hebrew-English Text
Hear the Parshah Chanted
Commentary from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University (Conservative)
Commentary from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Conservative)
Commentary by the Conservative Yeshiva
Commentary by the Union for Reform Judaism (Reform)
Commentaries from Project Genesis (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Chabad.org (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Aish HaTorah (Orthodox)
Commentaries from the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (Reconstructionist)
Commentaries from My Jewish Learning (trans-denominational)

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