What do Jews believe about the nature of God?
- Jews believe that God is one, creator, law-giver and judge.
- Jews believe in 1 God who cannot be split.
- God created the world.
- God as law-giver (Torah - The Ten Commandments)
- God is judge (Torah – Ten Commandments): God judges how people follow his commandments.
What is Shekinah?
- The place where Gods presence rests and can be felt.
- Jews believe that God is everywhere – but there are particular times and places where his presence is more strongly felt.
- Some Jews believe Shekinah never left the temple and that is why Israel has a special spirituality.
What is the Shema?
The Jewish prayer/ Creed that they say to show they believe in 1 God.
What do Jews believe about the Messiah?
- Many Jews pray for the Messianic age which they believe will be one of peace on earth, bring back the Jews to Israel and restore the Temple in Jerusalem.
- Messiah means anointed. Belief in the Messiah is central to Judaism. The traditional view is that he will be a great political leader who will bring about the end of the world.
What do Reform Jews believe about the Messiah?
It is important to focus on the good actions of humans that bring about an age of peace.
What is the Covenant with Abraham?
- God called Abraham and his family to a new land called Canaan. (Israel) - It is often referred to as the promised land because of God’s promise to give the land to the descendants of Abraham.
- God promised Abraham he would make a great nation from him.
- God promised to bless Abraham and his family. As part of the covenant God gave Abraham the rite of circumcision (usually occurs on the 8th day to reflect their relationship with God).
What is the covenant with Moses?
- Moses was chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. God promised to be with him and help him.
- Moses is believed to be the only person who has seen God face to face.
- Moses was given the Torah by God on Mount Sinai. Orthodox Jews believe he was also given the oral Torah.
- Moses established a covenant with God. As Gods chosen people the Israelites would keep the Commandments.
Why are the Ten Commandments important?
- They were given by God to Moses
- They should be followed by all Jews
- They are the duties required for humans for their creator God
- They are the duties required for relationships between humans
- They form the beliefs and practices of Judaism.
What is Pikuach Nefesh and why is it important?
- Saving of a life - This can include breaking a mitzvot.
- God created mankind in his own image Therefore life is sacred. To save life takes priority over the mitzvot.
- Many Jews will think about Pikuach Nefesh when making decisions about life and death issues.
- They should be able to prove that a life will actually be saved.
- They think about ‘before I formed you in the womb, I knew you’ when thinking about when life begins.
What are the Mitzvot?
- 613 Mitzvot: In the Torah there are 613 duties.
- Orthodox Jews try to keep them all.
- Reform Jews say that some are not relevant in the 21st century
How does free will connect with the mitzvot?
- Jews keep the mitzvot in different ways.
- They believe God gave them free will to choose whether to follow the mitzvot or not.
- Some of the mitzvot are no longer relevant as they relate to the temple which was destroyed.
What do Jews believe about free will?
- The Torah teaches God has given Jews the freedom to choose what is right and wrong.
- Jews believe they are born with the inclination to do either good or bad. Studying the Torah can help humans choose to do good.
What do Jews believe about the afterlife?
- Jews focus on their lives on earth, not the afterlife as the ways of God are unknown.
- The afterlife is called ‘olam ha-ba’ –> the world to come.
- It is important to live life in preparation for the world to come.
- The Mishnah states ‘ this world is alike a lobby before the olam ha ba.’
- Olam ha-ba is known as the ‘immortality of the soul’.
- Some Jews believe the resurrection of the dead will come during the Messianic Age. - Some argue after.
- Some argue only the righteous will be resurrected; others that everyone will be resurrected on the day of Judgement.
What are the differing views on the afterlife?
- Reform: Many don’t believe in resurrection but that the soul lives on.
- Orthodox: Many believe in some form of resurrection – physically or spiritually.
What is the importance of the Shabbat service?
They are important because they bring the community together. They are able to listen to the rabbi’s sermon which is based on the readings of the week. They are able to take part in communal prayers.
- Usually synagogue services are held on shabbat eve, and late shabbat afternoon. (Friday Eve and Saturday Afternoon)
- The Shabbat morning service includes important prayers (e.g. Shema and the Amidah) - the rabbis deliver a weekly sermon.
- After the service a Kiddush is held.
- In the reform synagogue less `Hebrew is used and instruments may be played.
Why is prayer important during the service?
- Through prayer Jews believe they can communicate with God.
- Prayers can be said individually or collectively (like at Shabbat)
- Prayer is a part of daily life. Observant Jews will pray before performing mitzvot, going to bed at night and seeing unusual things such as rainbows.
- There are 3 types of prayer: praising God, requests and thanksgiving.
- Some Jews believe it’s important to understand the prayer and so will recite them in English; other Jews believe it’s important to use Hebrew as it connects Jews worldwide and is a holy language.
Why is the Amidah prayer important in the synagogue?
- A prayer at the core of every Jewish service.
- Often called ‘the prayer’
- Amidah means ‘standing’ and people stand throughout the prayer. It has 18 blessings which praise God, request things of God and thank God.
- It is recited silently then repeated by the rabbi or cantor.
- The Amidah signifies being in God’s presence.
- It is said standing to show this and at the end three steps are taken backwards, bowing to both sides, and three steps taken forwards to formally show retreating from God’s symbolic presence.
- It contains three types of prayer to communicate with God.
How do Jewish people worship in the home?
- Preparing and celebrating for festivals
- Recitation of Prayers.
- Jewish values.
- Keeping Kosher.
- Display of Mezuzah.
What ways do Jews prepare for Shabbat?
- Each family celebrates Shabbat in their own way.
- Many Orthodox Jews will not work during Shabbat.
- This means preparation for the meals must be done before.
- Special foods need to have been bought and the Shabbat table laid.
- Most important all the family need to be home before the candles are lit to bring the presence of Shabbat in the home.
What happens during Shabbat?
- Orthodox Jews will not work unless it involves saving a life.
- Driving, carrying and cooking is not allowed.
- The woman of the family will light two candles to bring the presence of Shabbat into the home.
- There will be a blessing over the challah (loaves) and a Kiddush prayer recited over the cup of wine.
- On the Saturday families will go to the synagogue.
- At sunset on Saturday a havdallah candle is lit to symbolise the distinction between shabbat and the rest of the week.
- A glass of wine is passed around and a spice box is sniffed to symbolise the hope of a sweet week.
Why is Shabbat important?
- Keeping Shabbat obeys the Mitzvot to ‘remember and keep the Sabbath day holy’.
- It is remembered as a celebration of God’s creation.
- It is kept through worship in the home and synagogue.
- It is often seen as a gift from God when weekday worries can be forgotten, and they can spend time with family.
What is the tefflin?
- Two leather boxes each containing the Shema prayer. It is bound to the head with straps and to the upper arm with straps.
- Usually worn by orthodox males after their bar mitzvah on weekday mornings during prayer. Some women in reform Judaism wear the tefillin.
- It obeys the Mitzvot in the Torah. They are a reminder that the wearer must serve God through developing good thoughts through acts of compassion.
What is the Tallith?
- Prayer shawl with fringes representing the 613 mitzvot.
- Worn during prayers and worship by most orthodox Jews and some reform Jews.
- Wearing it reminds them of the mitzvot.
What is the Kippah?
- A head covering which can be different designs and colours.
- Can be worn from childhood. Some Jews wear it during prayer and when in synagogue. Others wear it always when awake.
- Some Reform Jewish Women also wear it.
- The exact meaning is unknown although it is often seen as a sign of respect for God as the highest part of the head is covered.
- Also seen as part of the Jewish identity.
What is the Bimah in a synagogue?
- Raised platform where the Torah scrolls are read.
- It is a central focus for the reading of the Torah scrolls and the sermons preached.
- Shows that the Torah should be central to life.
What is the difference in the bimah between orthodox and reform?
- Reform: The bimah is at the front combined with the ark
- Orthodox: Usually in the middle so the rabbi faces the congregation
What is the ark in the synagogue?
- AKA the aron hakodesh
- The Torah scrolls are kept here. During some prayers the doors and curtain of the ark may be opened or closed.
- The most important place in the synagogue.
- It is placed in the wall facing Jerusalem.
What are the Torah scrolls and their importance in the synagogue?
- Scrolls that contain the Torah. Made from animal skins and handwritten.
- The scroll is attached to two staves called the tree of life. Wach scroll is wrapped when not used and decorated with silver. The scrolls are carried to the bimah to be read.
- A portion of each scroll is used in the Shabbat service.
- It is raised to the congregation to show its importance.
- It is seen as an honour to be called up to read the Torah.
What is the ner tamid in the synagogue?
- Called the eternal lamp.
- Placed above the ark.
- Burns always and should never be put out.
- A symbol of God’s presence. In Exodus Jews were told to cause a lamp to burn continually.
- It is the light for the Torah which it is placed over.
- A symbol of the golden menorah which burned constantly in the temple.
What is the difference between the seating in reform and orthodox?
- Reform: everyone sits together.
- Orthodox: Separate seating for men and women. Women sit in the gallery often. Above the men.
What is a minyan in a synagogue?
- Some prayers require a community of worshippers which is defined as ten people.
- The Amidah, Priestly Benediction & Kaddish cannot be recited without a minyan.
What is the difference in a minyan between orthodox and reform?
- Reform: Many no longer have minyans or allow a minyan of men and women.
- Orthodox: Only allow men after their bar mitzvah to form the minyan.
What other functions do a synagogue have other than a place of worship?
- Synagogues are houses of study with libraries of texts.
- Children go to learn about their religion.
- Synagogues arrange a programme of events. These might include support for the elderly and ill, sports activities and charity collections.
Why are rituals important?
- Relationship with God is established in each ritual.
- Identity of being Jewish is reinforced through the ritual in front of the Jewish community.
- Traditions of Judaism are kept. These have been historically important for Judaism.
- Unity amongst Jews is shown through the ritual – everyone is treat the same and there is no difference between rich and poor.
- Affirms faith in God from the individual as each ritual often includes prayers.
- Lifecycle of a Jew involved rituals from birth to death.
What is brit milah and why is it important?
- 8-day old male babies or males converting to Judaism.
- A mohel will circumcise the baby on the 8th day after birth. Usually only men attend the ceremony. (in reform women will be there too)
- After the circumcision the father says a blessing.
- It shows a relationship with God as it represents the covenant made with Abraham.
- During the brit the boy is given a new Hebrew name.
- It’s such an important form of identity that men converting to Judaism must have a circumcision in orthodox Judaism.
What is a bar mitzvah and why is it important?
- Usually Jewish boys have a ceremony on the Shabbat after their 13th birthday.
- Reform Jews – girls have a one on their 12th – Bat mitzvah
- Before the boy is taught about the importance of prayer and learns Hebrew so he can read his portion from the Torah.
- Friends and relatives watch, and the father recites a statement in which he thanks God.
- It is a sign of entering manhood and building a relationship with God. After this they can become part of the minyan.
What is a bat mitzvah and why is it important?
- A celebration for girls.
- Happens at the age of 12.
- Usually involves a special service in the synagogue and a presentation of learning.
- Reform Jews might read from the Torah scrolls.
- Usually the girls do not have such a large ceremony as boys as they do not have the same duties.
- In reform Judaism the girls may be part of the minyan and read from the Torah scrolls.
What is the Jewish marriage rite and why is it important?
- Orthodox Jews don’t recognise same sex marriages.
- Reform Jews recognize both same sex and heterosexual marriages.
- Ceremonies can happen in synagogues, hotels or open spaces. There should be a chuppah under which the rabbi conducts the ceremony.
- It fulfils the duty in the Torah to ‘leave his father and mother and be united with his wife’
- It allows for the bearing of children and to ‘be fruitful and multiply’
- By taking place under the chuppah symbolizes the importance of the Jewish home.
What is the mourning ritual and why is it important?
- Onan is the main mourner who takes charge of the funeral.
- Chevra Kadisha is the burial society attached to the synagogue and they will prepare the body.
- the funeral is simple with psalms often read.
- Once the grave is filled then the kaddish is recited.
- After the funeral for 7 days mourners will sit Shiva usually by staying in their home. – during this time, they will be visited by members of the synagogue and male mourners will recite the kaddish.
- There will be no music played in the house and a candle kept burning.
- A yahrzeit ceremony is held each year to mark the death. Prayers are said and a candle burns for 24 hours.
- The body is believed to be the earthly container for the soul, so it is important that it is treated with great respect before it I buried.
- The mourning pattern after the funeral sows that life can’t go on as before.
What is the Torah?
The first 5 books of the Old Testament. It is the holiest part of the Tanakh. Jews try to follow the mitzvot of the Torah in their daily life. Passages from the Torah are read each week.
What is the Tenakh?
Made up of the Torah, the Nevi’im (Prophets) and the Ketuvim (Writings).
What is the Nevi’im?
Books of the prophets which are studied to learn about the history of Judaism. Extracts are read in the Shabbat service.
What is the Ketuvim?
Records how Jews behaved towards God. Includes the psalms which are often recited in worship.
What is the Talmud?
A combination of the Mishnah and the Gemara. When extracts from the Torah are unclear then the Talmud gives further information
What is the Mishnah?
Contains the Oral Torah, the teachings on issues of the law and the guidance on teaching
What is the Gemara?
The commentary on the Misnah which gives further details and guidance on issues of law and worship.
What is Kosher?
- Kosher laws date back to the Torah where it references what can and can’t be eaten.
- Observant Jews will often refuse to eat the meat of certain animals.
- Shechita is the method used to prepare kosher meat. (a less painful way of killing) – the blood is drained away to keep with the Torah.
- Homes in which families keep kosher will often have two sets of pans and fridges so meat and milk do not mix.
- Eating meat and milk in one meal is forbidden by observant Jews.
- Reform Jews will adapt the kosher regulations for their own lifestyle.
What is the origin of Rosh Hashanah?
- Rosh Hashanah is the day God created the world.
- Rosh means head or beginning.
- It’s a happy time to celebrate the beginning of a new world.
- A serious time to remember how God made the world and is judge.
- Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are connected in a process of judgment as many believe that on Rosh Hashanah God judges people for the deeds in the last year.
How do they celebrate Rosh Hashanah?
- Special services are held in the synagogue on the Eve of Rosh Hashanah.
- Special foods such as pomegranates, apples and honey eaten to symbolize sweet year ahead.
- At the morning service a shofar (rams’ horn) is blown 100 times = crying of the soul asking to be reunited with God.
- Some Jews perform Tashlik = cast away crumbs in pockets to symbolize their sins being cast away.
- During the next 10 days Jews consider their deeds from the last year and try to apologise to anyone they have done wrong to.
What is the origin of Yom Kippur?
- Often called the ‘Day of Atonement’
- Holiest day of the year.
- End of the 10 days of repentance
- A day of self-denial with a fast during the day.
- Many people spend this day in the synagogue.
How do they celebrate Yom Kippur?
- Often food and money is given to the poor.
- Some observant Jews will visit the mikveh (pool of natural water) for spiritual cleaning before Yom Kippur.
- Many Jews will fast for 25 hours.
- In the synagogue the Kol Nidrei (all vows) is sung and the story of Jonah is told. During the prayers Jews will confess their sins to God. The service ends with reciting the Shema.
- After nightfall the shofar a single blast marks the end of the service.
What is the origin of pesach?
- Pesach celebrates the freedom from slavery in Egypt which was led by Moses.
- It is often called Passover as God passed over the houses during the final plague.
- In the book of Exodus, God commanded that the festival should be held each year.
- Many of the foods eaten during the festival have special meaning.
- The festival is often called the festival of freedom and prayers are said each year for people not free.
How do they celebrate Pesach?
- Before Pesach the house needs to be rid of all its chametz (foods that have grain products that can swell.)
- Families attend the synagogue then go home for the sedar meal.
- At the seder meal the table will contain a seder dish on which there are symbolic foods.
- At the seder meal prayers will be read from a special book called the Haggadah.
- The door will be left open and a glass of wine left for the Prophet Elijah. Some Jews believe he will return at the end of Pesach to announce the coming of the Messiah.
What is the origin of Sukkot?
- An important harvest festival is counted as a mitzvah.
- Remembers the 40 year period when the Israelites were in the desert on their way to the promised land.
- Shelters or booths are made which represents the temporary shelter that was used in the desert.
- Two special objects are made during the festival- citrus fruit, palm, myrtle and willow placed in a wooden holder.
- Bringing the four species together is a reminder that Jews should be united.
How do they celebrate Sukkot?
- Sukkot lasts for 7 days and many Jews do not work on the first and second day.
- Jewish families build a temporary booth with a roof that the stars can be seen through. They might eat and sleep in the sukkah.
- They are often decorated with prayers and pictures of fruit and harvests.
- On each morning the Luvav (palm, mytle and willow placed in a wooden holder) is waved and a blessing is said to God.
- Many synagogues have a sukkah (temporary shelter)
What is an Orthodox Jew?
- They try to live as closely to the teachings of the Torah as possible.
- God is law-giver so he must be obeyed.
What is a reform Jew?
- Only the ethical laws of the Torah are binding
- They think about whether rules are still relevant today.
- Religion should move with the times.
- Torah is not taken literally.
What do Jews believe about God as one?
- There is one God, who cannot be split.
- He is omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient.
- The Shema is the central prayer of Judaism declaring that God is one.
What does the shema say about the Lord as one?
‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one’
What do Jews believe about God as creator?
- In the Torah, Genesis begins with the creation story: ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’
- God created the world
What do Orthodox Jews believe about the creation story?
- It is word for word true.
- God created everything in six days just like it says in the Torah.
What do reform Jews believe about the creation of the world?
- The creation story is not to be taken literally.
- It is an example about how it might have happened.
- We should take from it that God is the creator of the world.
How do Jews celebrate God as creator?
- Each week Jews celebrate Shabbat
- This is a day of rest but also a day of celebration of creation.
- Just as God did not work on the 7th day, Orthodox Jews will not work either.
What do Jews believe about God as law-giver?
- God revealed the laws to the Prophet Moses.
- The 10 Commandments that God gave to Moses are the framework for how a just society that is close to God could be established.
What do Jews believe about God as judge?
- God is a God of both justice and mercy.
- God will judge each person.
- God judges everyone at Rosh Hashanah.
What do Orthodox Jews believe about the Messiah?
Some Orthodox Jews believe that there is a set day when the Messiah will come.
What is a covenant?
A promise between God and his people, conditions are made from each side.
What does Judaism teach about divorce?
- Divorce is a last resort
- religious and civil divorce are needed for Orthodox Jews
- Remarriage is encouraged
- Remarriage is possible after 90 days
What does Judaism teach about sex and contraception?
- Having children is part of God’s will
- Using contraception is fine if both partners agree
- Orthodox Jews would only accept natural methods of contraception
- Reform Jews would accept most form of contraception to limit family size
What is the Jewish attitude to same-sex relationships?
- Orthodox Jews do not allow same-sex marriages
- Reform Jews often support same-sex marriages
What do Jews think about the roles of women in worship and authority?
- Some of the mitzvot do not apply to women - E.G. wearing the tefillin
- The bringing in of Shabbat in the home is conducted by women
- Men and women are equally important but their roles are different
What do Jews believe about Stewardship?
- God gave humans the world to look after in Genesis in the Torah.
- Jews believe it is our responsibility to make the world a better place to live.
What do Jews believe about the sanctity of life?
- God is creator, he alone gives and takes life.
- The Torah (Genesis) teaches that humans are created in the image of God and that life is precious.
- The Ten Commandments also forbid taking life.
What would Jews believe about abortion?
- They disagree with abortion
- God is the sole creator, giver and taker of life.
- Before we were formed in the womb, God knows us.
- Do not kill.
What do Jews believe about Euthanasia?
- It is murder
- The importance of Pikuach Nefesh and saving a life should be focused on
- God decides when to end life
What happens at a Jewish funeral?
- The shema prayer is said as a person is dying
- The body is wrapped in a plain shroud
- The prayer shawl is often placed on the body
- Mourners will make a tear in their clothes
- During 30 days after death mourners will not go out for pleasure
How do Jewish funeral rites reflect their belief about the afterlife?
- Saying the Shema - shows there is only one God, the creator
- Wrapped in a plain shroud - rich and poor are alike
- The prayer shawl is placed on the body - The duties in life are over
- Mourners will tear their clothes - The grief they feel can never be repaired
- They do not leave for 30 days - Keeps the memory of the dead alive and respects God
What do Jews believe about the aims of punishment?
- God created a just world so Jews must practice justice themselves
- In Deuteronomy it says judges must be fair and not accept bribes
- Jews cannot forgive on the behalf of others
What arguments do Jews have AGAINST Capital Punishment?
- It goes against ‘Do not kill’
- It does not act as a deterrent
What arguments do Jews have FOR Capital Punishment?
- Leviticus says ‘If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death’
- It says in the Torah ‘An eye for an eye’
What do Jews believe about forgiveness?
- It is a Mitvah to forgive
- In Micah it says ‘God does not maintain his anger forever’
- The Torah forbids bearing grudges
- Repentance is important
- Yom Kippur is when they atone and seek forgiveness and repentance
Can you give an example of Jewish forgiveness in action?
- Eva Kor - Holocaust survivor
- She forgave the Nazi’s not because they deserved it, but because she did.
What do Jews believe about the nature and Origin of evil?
- Jews do not believe people are born evil.
- Evil and suffering is a consequence for human beings’ wrong choices.
- People are born free with the inclination to do good or to do evil.
- God has given humans a choice and they must choose and struggle against their inclination to do evil.
What do Jews believe about suffering?
- Suffering comes from either natural evil or human made evil and it often comes from free-will.
- It is a consequence for human’s wrongdoing.
- God is the sole creator and the goodness of God is shown in his creation and in the giving of the Torah.
What do Jews believe about free will?
- Jews believe in predestination but they also believe they have free will
- The Torah is often used to reach decisions
What do Jews believe about human dignity?
- All humans are created in the image of God
- Insulting another human is like insulting God
- All Jews should perform charity and justice to other human beings
How do Jews promote human rights?
- Tzedekah (Charity and justice)
- Jews should give to charity and promote social justice
- They could perform mitzvot for others
- Fundraise and volunteer for charities
What do Jews believe about prejudice and discrimination?
- All humans are made in the image of God and have the same responsibility towards God
- Being a ‘chosen’ nation means they have additional responsibilities and duties
- Israel accepts Jews from all nations
- Women are important to the home and Jewish identity is established through the female line
What do Jews believe about racial discrimination and who helped campaign against it?
- Social justice is an important part of Jewish identity
- JCORE (Jewish Council for Racial Equality)
- It runs activities and campaigns to combat racism
- It has a Muslim Jewish taskforce who work together to combat hate
- It helps asylum seeking children befriend people
What do Jews think about the making and use of wealth?
- Giving to those in need is a duty
- All possessions belong to God
- People should budget carefully so they can provide for their families
- Wealth should be used for the benefits of the community
What did Maimonides say are the eight lives of charity?
- Giving a little but not willingly
- Giving but only a little when someone has asked a lot
- Giving to a person after being asked
- Giving to a person face to face before being asked
- The donor doesn’t know who they have given to but the recipient does
- Giving anonymously but knowing who the recipient is
- Giving anonymously and not knowing who the recipient is
- Finding employment for someone
What do Jews do to allieviate poverty?
- Reflect attitudes of loving the stranger
- Believe it is important to work across religious and racial boundaries
- Organise projects to educate people
- Run campaigns and raise awareness of social justice
- Publicise inequality and poverty