Major World Religions Judaism and Jewish Beliefs

About the major world religion Judaism, some of the history, varieties, beliefs and meanings behind the Jewish religious tradition.


The religion of the Jewish people, Judaism is the oldest of the monotheistic (one god) religions, and both Christianity and Islam are based upon its principal beliefs. The words "Judaism" and "Jew" are derived from "Judah," the ancient Jewish kingdom of southern Palestine.

Judaism was founded by Abraham, who made an agreement with God that he and his offspring would spread the doctrine that there was only one God. In return, God promised Abraham the land of Canaan (Israel) for his descendants.

The Jews 1st came into being as a nation in the 13th century B. C. when the prophet Moses led the Jews out of Egypt, where they had been slaves, and into the land of Canaan. Since that time Judaism has had to struggle to survive. The Jews were kept captive by the Babylonians from 586 B.C. to 537 B. C. and in 70 A.D. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman Army and the Jews were either massacred or dispersed. In modern times the Jews have suffered much the same treatment at the hands of the Russians in the late 1800s and early 1900s and the Germans in the 1930s and 1940s. But in 1948 the nation of Israel was reestablished.

Today there are close to 15 million Jews in the world, 3/4 of whom live in the U.S., Israel, and the U.S.S.R.

The basic beliefs of Judaism are a love of learning (in ancient times, on the 1st day of school, children were fed honey cakes in the shapes of the letters of the alphabet so that they would associate learning with sweetness); the worship of God out of love, not out of fear; and the performing of heartfelt good deeds without concern about rewards.

Judaism is based upon 2 fundamental texts: the Bible (which in Judaism means the Old Testament) and the Talmud, a compendium of laws, traditions, poetry, anecdotes, biographies, and prophecies of the ancient Jews.

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