Star of David

Introductions to World Religions
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

An Overview of Judaism


Some Helpful Websites on Judaism:

What Is Judaism? Who Is Jewish? What are Hebrews, Israelites, Israelis, etc.?

Current Demographics:

Highlights of Israelite & Jewish History:

(See my separate Israelite-Jewish History page.)

Main Groups of Jews / Branches of Judaism Today:

Main Branches:

Reform Reconstructionist Conservative Orthodox Hasidic
Official Groups: Union for Reform Judaism

Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism The Orthodox Union Chabad-Lubbavitch Movement
Leadership by Women? Most allow women rabbis. Most allow women rabbis. Some allow women rabbis. Only men ordained rabbis. One main "Rebbe"
Distinctive Clothing: Most wear head coverings only for prayer services. Similar to Reform branch Some wear head covering constantly, some don't. Men wear head covering (kippa, yarmulka) all day. Always wear traditional outfits, with full beards.
(picture of Hasidic men)
Torah Observance: Obeying Torah ethics, but not most ritual commands. Somewhat between the Reform & Conservatives Observing Torah, adapted to modern times. Observing Torah as much as possible. Observing the whole Torah joyfully, as applicable.
Seminaries in USA Cinc.; NY; LA:
Hebrew Union College /
Jewish Institute of Religion
PA: Reconstructionist
Rabbinical College
NY: Jewish Theological Sem.
LA: University of Judaism
NT: Yeshiva University ?
[more coming someday...] . . . . .
[more coming someday...] . . . . .

The Hebrew Bible:

Section of HB Literary Genre(s) Contents / Events / Eras Covered When Written / Edited When Canonized
Torah (Pentateuch) half narratives; half laws

Gen 1-11: Pre-historic Foundations (not datable)
Gen 12-50: Abr & Patriarchs (ca. 1800-1700 BCE)
Exod-Deut: Moses, Exodus, Sinai (ca. 1300/1250)

Few sources back to 1200's;
Mostly 800's to 500's BCE
by late 500's BCE
Nevi'im I (Former Prophets) historical/political narratives Josh/Jdg: Confederation of tribes (ca. 1250-1030)
Sam/Kings: Monarchies (ca. 1030-587 BCE)
Prob. 600's or 500's BCE by 400's BCE
Nevi'im II (Latter Prophets) prophetic sayings/oracles Prophets challenge rich & rulers (ca. 800-500 BCE) From 800's to 300's BCE [in flux up to 90 CE]
Khetuvim (Writings) variety: poetry, proverbs,
prayers, wisdom lit., etc.
Job/Ps/Prov/: mostly undated and undatable
Ezra/Neh/Chron: post-exilic restoration (536-400's)
Pre-1000 to post-200 BCE [in flux up to 90 CE]
Tanakh (as a whole) (all of the above) from pre-Abraham to post-Babylonian Exile span of about 1000 years not until ca. 90 CE

Early Jewish Literature beyond/after the Hebrew Bible:

Main Jewish Beliefs:

Jewish Law, Ethics, and Purity Regulations (with links to Judaism 101):

The Jewish Calendar, Feasts, and Festivals:

5758 5759 5760 5761 5762 5763 5764 5765 5766 5767 5768 5769 5770 5771 5772 5773 5774 5775 5776
10/2/97 9/21/98 9/11/99 9/30/00 9/18/01 9/7/02 9/27/03 9/16/04 10/4/05 9/23/06 9/13/07 9/30/08 9/19/09 9/9/10 9/29/11 9/17/12 9/5/13 9/25/14 9/14/15

Life-Cycle Events:

Prominent Jewish Symbols:

Star of David Menorah YHWH
Magen David
(Shield of David; a.k.a. Star of David)
(Seven-Branched Candlestick)
Ha Shem
(The Divine Name, or Tetragrammaton)
Dreidel Shofar Mezuzah Cases
(traditional Hanukkah top)
Blowing the Shofar
(Ram's Horn, esp. on Rosh Hashanah)
Mezuzah Cases
(containing scrolls of Deut 6:4-11)

Other Topics for Further Study:

Related Webpages:

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This page was last updated on February 8, 2007
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