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The history of Judaism reveals a religion that is over 4,000 years old and
is the forebear of Christianity and Islam. The majority of Jewish people
in the UK adhere to the Orthodoxy led by the Chief Rabbi. The
progressive Jewish community is divided into Liberal and Reform
The Old Testament tells how the prophet Abraham believed in the worship of
one God and adopted the rite of circumcision, the outward sign of the
covenant between God and his people. God revealed the laws, including the
Ten Commandments and the Holy Scriptures to Moses on Mount Sinai, after
he had led Abraham’s descendants out of Egypt. These teachings are
contained in the Torah, the Jewish holy book & their place of worship is the
Saturday is the Sabbath day. The Shabbat or religious festival starts at
sunset on Friday and lasts until sunset on Saturday. As the Shabbat
represents God’s creation of the world, devout Jews may not perform
‘creative’ work on that day. Activities such as travelling by car or public
transport, cooking, phoning and writing are all forbidden, unless necessary to
save life.
With very few exceptions, Jews in the UK use English as their first language.
In Britain, Hebrew is the language of worship, although in Israel it is widely
spoken and written.
Dietary Practices
Food that is acceptable to the Jewish religion is known as ‘Kosher’. Food,
which may not be eaten, includes fish without fins and scales, shellfish, pigs,
birds of prey and rabbits. Meat and milk may not be eaten together, nor may
the same utensils be used for meat and dairy products. There are also many
other dietary laws pertaining to Judaism e.g. during Passover (7 days in
spring) food containing yeast or dough that has risen cannot be eaten.
Orthodox Jew men & boys wear a skullcap in reverence and respect for God.
They are not allowed to use wool & linen threads woven together in clothing.
As Judaism follows the lunar calendar, festival days vary each year.