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Everything you ever wanted to know and
It began
4,000 years
ago in the
country we
call Israel
Jewish history begins with the covenant
established between God and Abraham
around 1812 BC in the Middle East. Abraham
is considered the father of the family of Jews.
Moses is also an important figure as he gave
the Jews the Torah around 1250 B.C. The
Torah contains the laws of God.
Abraham was the father of the Jewish people.
Jews see Abraham as a symbol of trusting and
obeying God. Abraham is also important to
followers of Christianity and of Islam.
The story of Abraham is told in the Book of
Genesis (the first book of the Hebrew and
Christian Bibles) in chapters 12-25.
Moses was the leader who freed them from
slavery in Egypt. Moses protected the Jews
from the wrath of God, and negotiated with
God on their behalf while they had to wander
in the desert for forty years after their escape
from slavery in Egypt.
He also gave them the law.
Judaism doesn’t really have a long list of
things you should believe in. They focus
more on how you should act.
All Jews agree on one thing, though.
There is a single God who not only created
the universe, but with whom every Jew can
have an individual and personal relationship.
Kosher foods are those that conform to
Jewish law.
 If Jews eat meat, the animal from which the
meat is taken must have been slaughtered in
accordance with prescribed Jewish ritual.
 There are other rules that
help Jews know what they
can and can’t eat.
Jews cannot eat meat from any animal which
does not both chew its cud (food brought up
into the mouth by an animal from its first
stomach to be chewed again) and has a split
hoof; animals such as rabbit or hare, pig,
horse, dog or cat are therefore prohibited.
They may not mix meat and dairy products.
Meat and dairy products must not be cooked
or eaten using the same utensils.
Jews may not eat shell fish.
Jews worship in buildings called
Men and women usually sit in
separate sections in a synagogue.
Men wear a covering on their heads
called a yarmulke or a kippah.
The most holy Jewish book is the Torah (the
first five books of the Hebrew Bible).
Others include Judaism's oral tradition, the
written form of which is known as the
The Torah (or teachings) contains the five
books revealed to Moses by God on Mount
Sinai. (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers
and Deuteronomy)
The Torah is stored inside the Ark (a special
No one is allowed to touch the Torah, so a
special pointer called a yad is used to follow
words when reading it.
A rabbi
Rabbis have many duties, but above all, they
study and teach the Torah.
The symbol or emblem of the Jewish people
is the Magen David (Shield of David), also
known as the Star of David.
The Menorah is one of the oldest symbols of
the Jewish faith. It is a candelabrum with
seven candle holders displayed in Jewish
It symbolizes the burning bush as seen by
Moses on Mount Sinai.
The two most common menorahs have seven
and nine candle-holders.
The term hanukiah or chanukiah, refers to the
nine-candled holder used during the Jewish
festival of Hanukkah.
A mezuzah is found on doorposts in Jewish
 It is a little case, containing a tiny scroll.
 The writing on the scroll is from the bible.
 It is in Hebrew and is called the Shema.
 It says that Jewish people should
love God and keep his rules.
The most important day of the week is the
Sabbath (Shabbat), which is a day made holy
by refraining from weekday work.
The Jewish holy day, or Sabbath, starts at
sunset on Friday and continues until sunset
on Saturday.
During the Sabbath, observant Jews will do
nothing that might be counted as work.
Among the things that they can't do are
driving and cooking.
At the beginning of Shabbat Jewish families
share a meal. They eat special bread called
On the Sabbath, Jews attend services at the
synagogue, often led by a Rabbi.
They are both special ceremonies where Jewish
boys (aged 13) and girls (aged 12) can become
adults in the eyes of the Jewish religion.
Bar mitzvah is for boys and means Son of the
Bat mitzvah is for girls and means Daughter of
the Commandment.
The couple are married under a huppah, a
The couple make a written contract or
promises together. This is called the Ketubah.
A glass is broken to remind them that their
joy will never be complete until the Holy
Temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt.
Both couples give each other a ring.
The ring is a token or symbol of their
The three main types are:
 Orthodox (the ones who follow the laws in
the Torah most carefully)
 Conservative (the ones who seek a
compromise between the old ways and
modern society)
 Reform (the ones who focus less on the laws
of the Torah and more on the ethical and
moral messages contained there.)
Passover-Commemorates God’s freeing the
Israelites from slavery in Egypt
Rosh Hashanah-The Jewish New Year
Yom Kippur-The day when Jews atone for all
the sins they have committed during the year
Sukkot/Sukkoth-The Jews remember the time
they wandered in the desert and were totally
dependent on God for survival
Hanukah/Chanukah-Celebrates the Jews’
victory over persecution by Syrians long ago.