What Do Judaism Believe

What is Judaism?

Judaism is an ancient monotheistic religion as well as a set of beliefs and practices originating in the Hebrew Bible (or Torah). It is roughly 3500 years old and is the world’s oldest existing religion. The religion is based on the teachings of the Jewish faith and culture, and it is passed down through the generations. Judaism is divided into three distinct segments – Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, and Reform Judaism – that determine the way that Jews practice the religion. The religion of the Jewish people is both highly regulated in its beliefs and observances, and dynamic in its interpretation and application.

Pillars of Judaism

The core of Jewish faith and practice is built on the so called ‘Three Pillars’: 1) Belief in One God; 2) The Torah as divinely revealed; and 3) The observance of the commandments as set forth in the Torah. These pillars form the basis of all other Jewish beliefs, values and rules.

Belief in One God

The fundamental belief of Judaism is that there is only one God that is eternal and transcendent, who is the Creator and sustainer of the universe. This is articulated in the Shema, the Jewish confession of faith, which is recited several times a day. Jews accept this one God as being the same God who revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, and as the God of Israel.

Torah as Divinely Revealed

The Torah is the body of divinely revealed teaching, instructions and laws given by God to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. It is found in the first five books of the Tanakh (Bible): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The Torah is the very bedrock of Jewish learnings, customs and beliefs, and from it all other Jewish teachings, values and practices are derived – such as the Ten Commandments, dietary laws, and other religious observances.

Observance of the Commandments

The Jews have the responsibility to observe what are referred to as the ‘613 Mitzvot’ or commandments that are laid down throughout the Torah. Though not all of them must be followed today, many of them provide the foundation for Jewish customs, laws, and beliefs. These commandments involve various things such as prayers, rituals, and ethical behavior.

Jewish Holidays and Festivals

Judaism has numerous holidays and festivals that are observed either completely or partially by Jews of all denominations. The major holidays are those marked in the biblical narrative including the two major holidays of the year, Passover and Yom Kippur. There are also several minor holidays such as Purim and Chanukah, and numerous others throughout the year.

Significance of the Sabbath

The Sabbath is a weekly day of rest and reflection, and is observed from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. It is about denying oneself physical pleasures to dedicate the time for worship and appreciation for God’s grace. It is a time for the family to gather on Friday night and say the Shabat prayers, sing and eat a traditional meal.

Syncretic Jewish Practices

At various times in Jewish history some Jews have adopted elements of other faiths, such as mysticism and astrology, into their own practice of Judaism. These syncretic practices, which are often viewed as idiosyncrasies of certain communities, can be found within Reform Judaism, as well as some of the other branches.

Judaism in the Modern World

Judaism is an ancient and well-established religious faith, with a variety of traditions and practices that have been adapted over the centuries to suit the times. While some of the practices and beliefs may no longer be observed by many Jews today, a large number of Jews still adhere to traditional religious beliefs and practices. In modern times, many Jews have become involved in the secular world, and have adopted a variety of secular customs and beliefs. Even with the changes and adaptations of modern times, Judaism endures as a living, vibrant religious force.

Conversion to Judaism

Conversion to Judaism has become more prevalent in recent times, with many people from different backgrounds and cultures wanting to join the Jewish faith. While the process of conversion does not involve any type of ritualistic initiation, candidates must learn about and adopt the beliefs and customs of Judaism before they can convert.

Jewish Symbols

Judaism has several symbols that are commonly used to represent the faith, like the Star of David, the seven-branched menorah, and the yarmulke. Each of these symbols conveys a specific meaning, whether it be the unity of God, the miracle of the burning bush, or the covenant between God and Israel.

Jewish Views on Death and Mourning

Death is viewed differently in Judaism than in other religions. In Judaism, there is an emphasis on mourning the loss of a loved one, but there is also an understanding and expectation that life is finite. Death is not seen as a punishment from God, but rather part of the natural order of life and a sign of God’s sovereignty over all.

The Role of Women in Judaism

The role of women in Judaism is complicated, but in general women are viewed as equal members of the community. They are allowed to take part in many religious ceremonies and rituals, but there are certain areas – like certain parts of the Torah – where men are given preference. In modern Jewish life, women have become increasingly active in religious and communal life, particularly in the more liberal branches of Judaism.

Jewish Attitudes Toward the LGBTQ Community

Judaism traditionally disapproved of homosexual behavior, though that view has softened considerably in more recent times. More liberal branches of Judaism have accepted LGBT Jews as full and equal members of the community, and many rabbis now officiate same-sex marriage ceremonies. While there is still disagreement and debate within the Jewish world on the issue, there is also a growing sense of acceptance.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has long been at the forefront of the international political arena. While there is a wide range of perspectives on the issue, the vast majority of Jews believe that Israel should have the right to exist as a nation and should be protected from hostile interests.

Jewish Cultural Contributions

Jewish people have made significant contributions to world culture and society, both historically and in the modern age. Jewish authors and scholars have produced works of literature, philosophy and science that have had a lasting impact on the world. Jews have also excelled in sports, the arts, and other fields.


Anti-Semitism is a term for discrimination or hatred of Jews or Judaism by non-Jews, and is often expressed through acts of violence, verbal attacks, and social ostracism. Unfortunately, it is still alive and present in many parts of the world, and the Jewish community has long been a target of anti-Semites.

Josephine Beck is a passionate seeker of religious knowledge. She loves to explore the depths of faith and understanding, often asking questions that challenge traditional beliefs. Her goal is to learn more about the different interpretations of religion, as well as how they intersect with one another.

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