35 Interesting Facts About Judaism

  1. Judaism is the oldest among the three Abrahamic religions and one of the oldest in the world. It dates back to over 3000 years.
  2. Judaism is primarily composed of the people of Israel. Conversion from other faiths of non-Israeli people is usually not encouraged.
  3. Israeli Jews are divided into four main groups according to their religious and cultural affiliation. Around 50% are secular Jews (Hilonim) who give less importance to religion and more to culture. The smallest (9%) and the most religiously devoted group is Haredim. They reject military service and oppose Zionism. (Source)
  4. Jews can also be divided into ethical and geographical basis. These are Mizrahi (Middle Eastern) Jews, Ethiopian Jews, Ashkenazim (German and Northern French) Jews, and Sephardim (Iberian) Jews. (Source)
  5. There are three main branches of Judaism. These include Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism.
  6. The Jewish calendar is the oldest still in use. Its general usage started in the 9th Century BC, while it follows biblical calculations. (Source)
  7. Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the holiest site in Judaism. Other sacred sites for Jews are the Western Wall, Mount Sinai, Mount of Olives, and Rachel’s Tomb. (Source)
  8. Male circumcision is obligatory only in Judaism and Islam. Jews perform this act on the eighth day of birth of a baby boy. (Source)
  9. According to a common belief, a Jew is someone with a mother of the Jewish faith. But conversion is allowed in modern Judaism. If someone converts to Judaism, then circumcision (in the case of males) and taking a Jewish ritual bath (mikveh) are necessary for the convert. 
  10. Jews do not believe Jesus to be Christ. However, they believe in the arrival of a Messiah before the Last Hour. They believe him to be a descendant of David who will bring peace and unite humanity.
  11. In Judaism, Moses (PBUH) is considered the chief of all the prophets. This belief is one of their 13 Principles of Faith.
  12. Judaism is the world’s 10th most followed religion, with more than 14 million adherents. More than 80% of the world’s total Jewish population resides in Israel and the USA.
  13. The First Temple, also known as Solomon’s Temple, was built around 957 BCE and destroyed by the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 587 BCE. The 2nd temple was constructed around 516 BC and destroyed in 70 AD by Romans. Later in the 7th Century, the Dome of the Rock was built on this site by an Umayyad ruler.
  14. There is a long history of Jewish persecution in Europe. In 1285, Jews were expelled from England by King Edward I.
  15. A few years later, King Philip IV expelled Jews from France in 1306. Later, a cycle of return and expulsion continued several times. The last and complete exile of Jews from France occurred in 1394. (Source)
  16. Eating pigs, camels, hare, hyrax, bats, birds of prey, fish-eating birds, shrimp, crab, oysters, lobster, and shellfish is prohibited in Judaism. Jews cannot eat meat with dairy food. 
  17. The consumption of four types of desert locusts is allowed in Judaism. All the other insects are non-kosher (unlawful).
    Crickets on stone
    Eating crickets and locusts is allowed in Judaism

  18. During the Jewish marriage ceremony, the groom symbolizes the destruction of the temple by breaking a glass with his foot.
  19. In Jewish culture, the mourning for the death of a parent (father or mother) continues for 11 months. Attending festive occasions and musical gatherings are not allowed during this period.
  20. Jews reject the prophethood of Jesus (PBUH) and Muhammad (PBUH). It is a primary reason for the differentiation of Judaism from the other two Abrahamic religions. (Christians believe Jesus Christ as the son of God while Muslims regard him as a prophet of Allah).
  21. Apart from the written Torah, Judaism also believes in Oral Torah (the teachings that were given by God to Moses orally). This Oral Torah (Talmud) came in written form in 70 AD after the destruction of the Second Temple.
  22. Jewish boys and girls become responsible Jews (Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah) at 13 and 12 years, respectively. The celebration of this occasion occurs in a Synagogue. 
  23. Judaism gives less importance to the life after death compared to other Abrahamic religions. They have differences about the state of heaven due to absence of its exact description in Jewish scripture. (Source)
  24. The New Year day is called Rosh Hashanah in Judaism. It is the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar and falls in September or October. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are two "holiest days" in Judaism. (Source)
  25. The Sabbath (weekly religious holiday) starts on Friday sunset and ends on Saturday sunset. It is considered unholy to do any job during Sabbath, including cooking, cleaning, and shopping.  
  26. Jews believe there are 613 commandments in the Law of Moses (the Torah). Among them, 248 are positive commandments (to perform an act), and 365 are negative commandments (to refrain from a deed).
  27. The Jewish place of worship is called Synagogue. Men and women sit separately and cover their heads in Traditional synagogues.
  28. The Star of David is a Jewish religious symbol and is present on the flag of Israel. Its use as a general sign of Judaism became common in the 17th Century. This star symbolizes heroism and martyrdom.
  29. There are three pilgrimage festivals in Judaism. Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah to Moses. The purpose of Sukkot and Pesach is to celebrate events after freedom from slavery in Egypt. (Source)
  30. According to estimates, nearly 6 million European Jews lost their lives during the holocaust. The total numbers of Nazi victims (including Romany, homosexuals, etc.) were 11 million.
  31. Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish year. Jews celebrate the forgiveness of Israelites by God after they worship a golden calf.
  32. Orthodox Jews perform three daily prayers in synagogues. Worship services are held on Shabbat in Reform synagogues.
  33. Jews believe in the 13 Principles of Faith. These are related to God, prophets, Torah, Messiah, and the resurrection.
  34. The Jewish religious clothing includes tallith (prayer shawl), tefillin (leather boxes), and kippah (skull cap).
  35. Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) is composed of Torah, Nevi’im (prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). There are 24 books in these three parts.

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