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How many people follow Judaism?[edit | edit source]
About 15 million people. Followers of Judaism are called "Jews".
Where is Judaism practiced?[edit | edit source]
Judaism is practiced in most areas of the world, most notably Israel and the United States which hold the largest Jewish populations. (13 to 14 million). While France has the largest European Jewish population, the United Kingdom also has a small but prominent Jewish population. There are only a few countries on Earth that do not have Jews, for example, Saudi Arabia and North Korea.
What are the main beliefs of Judaism?[edit | edit source]
- The Torah, always a living law as the written Torah is understood in light of the oral Torah
- God, a unity
- The people (Israelites Jews), called into being by God as members of one family, a corporate personality, a community of faith
- The land (known today as Eretz Yisrael)
What texts does Judaism hold sacred?[edit | edit source]
The Torah, also called the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses, is the most sacred of Jewish books. It is part of the Tanakh, which is the Hebrew Bible (called "the old testament" by Christians). The Mishna and the Talmud are of tremendous importance in Judaism, though the word "sacred" doesn't really apply to these books.
What are some main holidays and practices of Judaism?[edit | edit source]
Hanukkah (Chanukkah) is one Jewish holiday. Another is Passover (Pesach).
What is the history of Judaism?[edit | edit source]
Sacred writings of Judaism contain their own story of Judaism up until 164 BCE, told in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). It describes how God chose the Jews to be an example to the world, and how God and his chosen people worked out their relationship. It was a stormy relationship much of the time, and one of the fascinating things about this story is to watch God changing and developing alongside his people.
Who are some famous people who have practiced Judaism?[edit | edit source]
Saul, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Elisha, Albert Einstein and Woody Allen.
What is a story from Judaism?[edit | edit source]
Rabbi Shmuel "Shmelke" Horowitz (1726-1778), known as "Rabbi Shmelke of Nicholsburg," was a very remarkable Chassidic Master. He claimed the biblical prophet Shmuel haNavi as his ancestor, and said that the prophet passed his soul on to him. He was not always a Chassid; in fact, he was originally among the early opponents of Chassidism, untill he met the famous Maggid of Mezritch. Later Rabbi Shmelke became the rabbi of Nicholsburg (Mikulov) in Moravia. He is the author of the Torah works Divre Shmuel, Imre Shmuel, and Shemen haTov.
When he was appointed as rabbi in Nicholsburg, the community leaders informed him that they had a special custom: every new rabbi was expected to add a new rule or custom to the chronicles of the community. Rabbi Shmelke smiled and said nothing. As time went by and the new rabbi still had not contributed anything to the rule-book, the officers of the community began to press him about this; but Rabbi Shmelke continued to procrastinate and make all sorts of excuses. Finally, his secretary took the initiative and placed the book in front of him, open on his desk, an inkwell and a pen neatly next to it.
Reb Shmelke sat down, picked up the pen, and wrote the Ten Commandments.
We know them, but they are always new for us.
References[edit | edit source]