Jews have been shunned and persecuted, not only for their faith but for being different, Judaism, the name given to their faith, is an observance of a blend of religious doctrines, prophecy and social laws which have grown up over more than 4,000 years. It is inextricably bound up with the history of the Jewish people, having been formed by their experiences over the centuries.

Under the influence of the rabbis the faithful remnant were helped to preserve their identity by a firm belief in the future vindication of God's chosen people with the coming of the Messiah. This great leader would restore the scattered flock of Israel to its homeland in Palestine and rebuild the Temple. All nations would recognize the truth of Israel's mission and the Messiah would inaugurate God's kingdom of righteous harmony on earth.

The story of the origins of Judaism is told in the part of the Bible, known to Christians as the Old Testament. But it is more than the story of the Jews, it explains how the world came into being, and the part God has played throughout their history. The 'words of God', have been written down by human beings inspired by God.


Judaism is the world's most ancient religion honouring a single God (monotheistic religion) and from it both Christianity and Islam later arose. This central belief is expressed in the words which occur in most Jewish services, taken from the book of Deuteronomy 6:4:

'Hear O Israel; the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.'

Devout Jews repeat this verse every morning and evening, children are taught the declaration of faith called the Shema, as soon as they can speak, it is often the last words spoken by those dying.

Judaism disapproves of the Christian worship of Christ and the Trinity as a departure from monotheism.


Exodus 3:14 reads

HASHEM answered Moses, I shall Be As I Shall Be." And He Said," So shall you say to the Children of Israel, 'I Shall Be has sent me to you.'";


According to the teaching of the Jews. The four letters (the tetragrammaton YHWH) indicate that God is timeless, for the letters of this Name are those of the words


He was

He is

He will be



The Jews never pronounce the Hebrew form of the divine name it is usually referred to as either:


Adoni - "Master of all"

Hashem - "The name"

Elohim - "All powerful"


The footnote to the Tanakh states: "The name YHWH (traditionally read Adonai "the LORD") is here associated with the root hayah 'to be'.

Dr. A. Cohen states in Everyman's Talmud: "Special reverence [was] attached to 'the distinctive Name' (Shem Hamephorash) of the Deity which He had revealed to the people of Israel, viz. the tetragrammaton, JHVH."

Dr. Cohen states: "In the Biblical period there seems to have been no scruple against [the divine name's] use in daily speech."

A. Marmorstein, a rabbi, wrote in his book The Old Rabbinic Doctrine of God: "There was a time when this prohibition [of the use of the divine name] was entirely unknown among the Jews . . . Neither in Egypt, nor in Babylonia, did the Jews know or keep a law prohibiting the use of God's name, the Tetragrammaton, in ordinary conversation or greetings. Yet, from the third century B.C.E. till the third century A.C.E. such a prohibition existed and was partly observed."


Shabbat (Sabbath) - The observance of the Sabbath remains one of the most distinctive features in Jewish faith. The seventh day of the Jewish week (from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) is viewed as sanctifying the week, and the special observance of this day is an essential part of worship. Jews attend the synagogue for Torah readings and prayers.-Exodus 20:8-11.
Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement is for Jews the holiest day of the year, one of fasting and prayer, confession and re-dedication. It culminates the Ten Days of Penitence that begin with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which falls in September according to the Jewish secular calendar.-Leviticus 16:29-31; 23:26-32.
Sukkot - The Festival of Booths, or Tabernacles, or Ingathering, celebrates the harvest and the end of the major part of the agricultural year. Held in October.-Leviticus 23:34-43; Numbers 29:12-38; Deuteronomy 16:13-15.
Hanukkah - The Festival of Dedication is a popular festival held in December that commemorates the Maccabees' restoration of Jewish independence from Syro-Grecian domination and the rededication of the temple at Jerusalem in December 165 B.C. Usually distinguished by the lighting of candles for eight days.
Purim - The Festival of Lots celebrated in late February or early March, in commemoration of the deliverance of the Jews in Persia during the fifth century B.C. from Haman and his genocidal plot.-Esther 9:20-28.
Pesach - The Festival of Passover, celebrates Israel's deliverance from slavery in Egypt (1513 B.C.). It is the greatest and oldest of Jewish festivals. Held on Nisan 14 (Jewish calendar), it usually falls at the end of March or the beginning of April. Each Jewish family comes together to share the Passover meal, or Seder. During the following seven days, no leaven may be eaten. This period is called the Festival of Unfermented Cakes (Matzot).-Exodus 12:14-20, 24-27.

The Torah and their ritual kept the Jews together during the centuries of persecution, the ritual side of Jewish religion developed to meet the needs of the scattered community.

But Jewish thought was from time to time influenced by ideas current at the time.


Beliefs about the afterlife were very similar to those of Christians, including the belief that the great majority of the dead would spend a year in purgatory, to be cleansed of their sinfulness and then join the blessed in paradise. Ultimately God would bring the present world to an end, with the bodily resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgement.

The Encyclopaedia Judaica states: "It was probably under Greek influence that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul came into Judaism." ... ... .. "Basically the two beliefs of resurrection and the soul's immortality are contradictory. The one refers to a collective resurrection at the end of the days, i.e., that the dead sleeping in the earth will arise from the grave, while the other refers to the state of the soul after the death of the body."... ... .. "It was held that when the individual died his soul still lived on in another realm while his body lay in the grave to await the physical resurrection of all the dead here on earth."

Pharisees According to some scholars, the name literally means "Separated Ones; Separatists," referring perhaps to avoidance of ceremonial uncleanness or to separation from Gentiles. Just when the Pharisees had their beginning is not precisely known. The writings of the Jewish historian Josephus indicate that in the time of John Hyrcanus I (latter half of the second century B.C.) the Pharisees already formed an influential body. Josephus wrote: "And so great is their influence with the masses that even when they speak against a king or high priest, they immediately gain credence."-Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 288 (x, 5).

Josephus also observed: "They believe that souls have power to survive death and that there are rewards and punishments under the earth for those who have led lives of virtue or vice: eternal imprisonment is the lot of evil souls, while the good souls receive an easy passage to a new life." (Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 14 [i, 3]) "Every soul, they maintain, is imperishable, but the soul of the good alone passes into another body, while the souls of the wicked suffer eternal punishment." Regarding their ideas about fate or providence, Josephus reports: "[They] attribute everything to Fate and to God; they hold that to act rightly or otherwise rests, indeed, for the most part with men, but that in each action Fate co-operates."-The Jewish War, II, 162, 163 (viii, 14).

Sadducees a prominent religious sect of Judaism associated with the priesthood (Acts 5:17) they did not believe in either the resurrection or angels. Acts 23:8.The precise time for the emergence of the Sadducees as a religious sect is not known. Josephus, indicated that they opposed the Pharisees in the latter half of the second century B.C. (Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 293 [x, 6]) Josephus also provides information about their teachings, but is it completely factual. Josephus said, the Sadducees denied the workings of fate, maintaining that an individual, by his own actions, was solely responsible for what befell him. (Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 172, 173 [v, 9]) They rejected the many oral traditions observed by the Pharisees and also Pharisaic belief in the immortality of the soul and in punishments or rewards after death. In their dealings with one another, the Sadducees were somewhat rough. They were said to be disputatious. According to Josephus, their teachings appealed to the wealthy.-Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 298 (x, 6); XVIII, 16, 17 (i, 4); The Jewish War, II, 162-166 (viii, 14).


Orthodox Judaism not only accepts that the Hebrew "Tanakh" as inspired Scripture but also believes that Moses received the oral law from God on Mount Sinai at the same time that he received the written Law. Orthodox Jews scrupulously keep the commandments of both laws. They believe that the Messiah is still to appear and to bring Israel to a golden age. Because of differences of opinion within the Orthodox group, various factions have emerged. One example is Hasidism.

Hasidim (Chasidim, meaning "the pious") - These are viewed as ultra orthodox. Founded by Israel ben Eliezer, known as Ba`al Shem Tov ("Master of the Good Name"), in the mid-18th century in Eastern Europe, they follow a teaching that highlights music and dance, resulting in mystic joy. Many of their beliefs, including reincarnation, are based on the Jewish mystical books known as the Kabbala (Cabala). Today they are led by rebbes (Yiddish for "rabbis"), or zaddikim, considered by their followers to be supremely righteous men or saints.

Hasidim today are found mainly in the United States and in Israel. They wear a particular style of Eastern European garb, mainly black, of the 18th and 19th centuries, that makes them very conspicuous, especially in a modern city setting. Today they are divided into sects that follow different prominent rebbes. One very active group is the Lubavitchers, who proselytize vigorously among Jews. Some groups believe that only the Messiah has the right to restore Israel as the nation of the Jews and so are opposed to the secular State of Israel.


Reform Judaism (also known as "Liberal" and "Progressive") - The movement began in Western Europe toward the beginning of the 19th century. It is based on the ideas of Moses Mendelssohn, an 18th-century Jewish intellectual who believed Jews should assimilate Western culture rather than separate themselves from the Gentiles. Reform Jews deny that the Torah was divinely revealed truth. They view the Jewish laws on diet, purity, and dress as obsolete. They believe in what they term a "Messianic era of Universal brotherhood." In recent years they have moved back toward more traditional Judaism.


Conservative Judaism began in Germany in 1845 as an offshoot of Reform Judaism, which, it was felt, had rejected too many traditional Jewish practices. Conservative Judaism does not accept that the oral law was received by Moses from God but holds that the rabbis, who sought to adapt Judaism to a new era, invented the oral Torah. Conservative Jews submit to Biblical precepts and Rabbinic law if these "are responsive to the modern requirements of Jewish life." (The Book of Jewish Knowledge) They use Hebrew and English in their liturgy and maintain strict dietary laws (kashruth). Men and women are allowed to sit together during worship, which is not allowed by the Orthodox.