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World Religions: Judaism

Use this primer with the lesson The World's Religions to teach about the diversity of faiths in the United States and around the globe.

Judaism is a monotheistic faith, meaning that Jews believe there is only one god. They believe that while often this god is beyond our ability to comprehend, God is nevertheless present in people’s everyday lives. Jews believe that every person is equally important and has an infinite potential to do good in the world. They also feel that people have the free will to make choices in their lives and that each of us is responsible for the consequences of those choices. All Jews, wherever they live in the world, are considered part of a global Jewish community.

The Torah is Judaism's most important text. It contains stories and commandments that teach about life and death. Some Jews also observe special dietary laws of kashrut (keeping kosher).

Some religious observances:

Rosh HaShanah

Time of Year: September. Rosh HaShanah is the Jewish New Year. During this two-day observance, Jews examine their lives, repent for wrongs committed during the previous year, and make amends. To remind people of the importance of reflection, the shofar (an instrument often made of a ram's horn) is blown one hundred times on each of the two days. Some also participate in a tashlich ceremony, where people symbolically cast off the sins of the previous year by tossing pieces of bread or another food into a body of flowing water.

Yom Kippur

Time of Year: September or October. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, falls 10 days after Rosh HaShanah. The day’s purpose is bringing about reconciliation between individuals and God. The day is marked by fasting and attending worship services at synagogues. In the 10 days leading up to the holiday, Jews engage in a process of repentance (teshuvah), where they ask forgiveness from—and reconcile with—anyone whom they may have offended.

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Article by Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor
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