Judaism is a monotheistic religion where the followers believe in a God they call Hashem (also called God). Orthodox Judaism is an ethnic religion but does accept other people who convert. Jews believe in Hashem who is often described as the creator of everything, everlasting, all-knowing, and has no physical form. Judaism was the first monotheistic religion which made it different than many other religions at the time. Hashem is unlike the polytheistic gods who were helpful only in specific time such as good crops or winning a war. The Jewish deity served every purpose and has definitive rules rather than creating a new god for each need.
The sacred texts of Judaism are the Torah, the Tanakh, and the Talmud. The Torah is equivalent to the beginning of the Christian Old Testament and the Tanakh is equivalent to the rest of the old testament. The Talmud is an essential piece to the Hebrew Bible. It is the laws that were verbally given to Moses.
Orthodox Jews worship in synagogues on Saturday,the Sabbath, while some go there as many times as three times a day to worship. Orthodox Jews have to live by the Torah and all of the sacred texts, as well as acknowledge and accept the thirteen principles of faith which are:
I believe with perfect faith that Hashem the Creator, shall His Name be Blessed, is the Creator and Leader of every created thing; And he himself made, does make, and will make everything.
I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, shall His Name be Blessed, is the only One, and there is no unity in any way like His, and He alone is our God, who was, is, and will always be.
I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, shall His Name be Blessed, is no body, and all properties of matter do not apply to him, and there can be no physical comparison to Him at all.
I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, shall His Name be Blessed, was the first and will remain the last.
I trust with full trust that the Creator, shall His Name be Blessed, only to Him there is right to pray, and there is no point in praying to any being besides Him.
I believe with perfect faith that all words of the Nevi’im (prophets) are true.
I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of our Rabbi, Moses, may he rest in peace, was true, and he was the father of the Nevi’im (prophets), both those who came before him and those after him.
I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that we have in our possession is the same that was given to our Rabbi, Moses.
I believe with perfect faith that our Torah won’t be exchanged, and there will never be any other Torah from Hashem, shall His Name be Blessed.
I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, shall His Name be Blessed, knows all actions of human beings, their thoughts, as it is written (Psalms 33:15), “Who fashioned the hearts of them all, Who comprehends all their actions”.
I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, shall His Name be Blessed, gives rewards for those who keep His Mitzvos (commandments) and punishes those who transgress them.
I believe with perfect faith in the coming Messiah; and although he may tarry, even though I wait every day for his coming.
I believe with perfect faith that there will be a revival of the dead at the time when it shall please Hashem, shall His Name be Blessed, and His mention shall be elevated forever and ever.
The Orthodox Jews have four main rituals, each of them is a major point a person’s life. There is Bris Milah, Bar Mitzvah, wedding, and funeral. The Bris Milah is to bring a baby in the covenent of Hashem by circumcision at eight days old. Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs are coming of age celebrations. Orthodox Jews celebrate Bar Mitzvahs on the Saturday after a boy turns thirteen. Bat Mitzvahs are celebrated on the Saturday after a girl’s twelfth birthday. They more often do not celebrate Bat Mitzvahs with a great party but rather a small one with only very close relatives. The clothing worn is very formal, the men wearing a yarmulke and a tallit. The next ritual is a wedding. Orthodox Jewish weddings usually have the guests segregated by gender and are not to mix. The bride, kallah, and the groom, chattan, are not supposed to see each other for at least a week prior to the wedding. In some cases they are not to see each other for the whole engagement before marriage, which be at least six months. There are many interesting traditions at Orthodox Jewish weddings, one being breaking of the glass, where the groom breaks glass on his leg to symbolize the destruction of the holy temple. A funeral is the last ritual in someone’s life cycle. The funeral is solemn and it is not custom to send flowers. The coffin is traditionally buried by shovel and attendees often help in the actual burial. For each of these rituals, anyone attending always wears modest clothing.
Jewish people celebrate different holidays throughout the year These are the major holidays (with the 2016 dates included):
- Purim-March 24, 2016- Celebrates when Esther saved the Jews from Haman
- Passover-April 23, 2016- Celebrates freedom by Hashem from slavery in Egypt
- Shavuot-June 12, 2016- This day marks the giving of the Torah from Mt. Sinai
- Rosh Hashanah- Oct 3, 2016- The Jewish new year
- Yom Kippur-Oct 12, 2016- The Day of Atonement
- Sukkot-Oct 17, 2016- Remembrance of Hashem’s kindness while the Israelites were in the desert for forty years
- Hannukkah-Dec 25, 2016- Celebrates the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem