Torah scrolls are escorted into a new synagogue in Kfar Maimon, Israel, 2006

Sefer Torah

Sefer Torah Sefer Torah (ספר תורה; “Book of Torah”; plural: ספרי תורה Sifrei Torah), is a handwritten copy of the Torah, meaning: of the Pentateuch, or the five books of Moses (the first books of the Hebrew Bible). It must meet extremely strict standards of production. The Torah scroll is...

Composition of the Torah

Composition of the Torah The composition of the Torah (or Pentateuch, the first five books of the bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) was a process that involved multiple authors over an extended period of time. While Jewish tradition holds that all five books were originally written by Moses sometime...

613 Commandments

613 Commandments The Jewish tradition that there are 613 commandments (תרי״ג מצוות‎, romanized: taryag mitzvot) or mitzvot in the Torah (also known as the Law of Moses) began in the 3rd century CE, when Rabbi Simlai mentioned it in a sermon that is recorded in Talmud Makkot 23b. Although there have been a lot of attempts...

Maurycy Gottlieb - Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur Yom Kippur (יוֹם כִּיפּוּר, or יום הכיפורים), also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of...

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah Rosh Hashanah (רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה), literally meaning “head [of] the year”, is the Jewish New Year. The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah (יוֹם תְּרוּעָה), literally “day of shouting or blasting”. It is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days (יָמִים נוֹרָאִים Yamim Nora’im. “Days of Awe”) specified by Leviticus 23:23–32 that occur...

Jewish Ethnic Divisions

Jewish Ethnic Divisions Jewish ethnic divisions refers to a number of distinctive communities within the world’s ethnically Jewish population. Although considered one single self-identifying ethnicity, there are distinctive ethnic subdivisions among Jews, most of which are primarily the result of geographic branching from an originating Israelite population, mixing with local populations, and subsequent independent evolutions. As long...

Rabbi Micah shows Torah scroll on Simchat Torah

Torah Reading

Torah Reading Torah reading (קריאת התורה, K’riat haTorah, “Reading [of] the Torah“; Kriyas haToire) is a Jewish religious tradition that involves the public reading of a set of passages from a Torah scroll. The term often refers to the entire ceremony of removing the scroll (or scrolls) from the Torah ark,...

El Ghriba synagogue, Djerba, Tunisia

Synagogue

Synagogue A synagogue (from Ancient Greek συναγωγή, synagogē, ‘assembly’; Hebrew: בית כנסת bet knesset, ‘house of assembly’, or בית תפילה bet tefila, “house of prayer”; Yiddish: שול shul, Ladino: אשנוגה esnoga, ‘bright as fire’, or קהל kahal) is a Jewish or Samaritan house of worship. Synagogues have a large place for prayer (the main sanctuary) and may also have smaller...

The Holocaust

The Holocaust The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the World War II genocide of the European Jews. Between 1941 and 1945, across German-occupied Europe, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews, around two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population. The murders were carried out in pogroms and...

Messiah in Judaism

Messiah in Judaism The Messiah in Judaism (מָשִׁיחַ‎, māšîaḥ; χριστός, khristós, ‘anointed, covered in oil’) is a savior and liberator figure in Jewish eschatology, who is believed to be the future redeemer of the Jewish people. The concept of messianism originated in Judaism, and in the Hebrew Bible a messiah is...

Jewish Christian

Jewish Christian Early Christianity had its roots in Hellenistic Judaism and the Jewish messianism of the first century and Jewish Christians were the first Christians. Christianity started with Jewish eschatological expectations, and it developed into the veneration of a deified Jesus after his earthly ministry, his crucifixion, and the post–crucifixion experiences of his followers. The inclusion of gentiles led to a growing split...

Jewish English Bible Translations

Jewish English Bible Translations Jewish English Bible translations are English translations of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) according to the Masoretic Text,  in the traditional division and order of Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim. Most Jewish translations appear in bilingual editions (Hebrew–English). Jewish translations often reflect traditional Jewish exegesis of the Bible; all such translations eschew the Christological interpretations...

Jewish Commentaries on The Bible

Jewish Commentaries on The Bible Jewish commentaries on the Bible are biblical commentaries of the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) from a Jewish perspective. Translations into Aramaic and English, and some universally accepted Jewish commentaries with notes on their method of approach and modern translations into English with notes are listed. Earliest printing The complete Tanakh...

Targum

Targum The targumim (singular targum, תרגום; interpretation, translation, version) were originally spoken translations of the Jewish scriptures (also called the Tanakh) that a meturgeman (professional interpreter) would give in the common language of the listeners when that was not Hebrew. This had become necessary near the end of the 1st century BCE, as the common...

Chabad Messianism

Chabad Messianism Chabad messianism, or Lubavitch messianism, generally refers to the passion among adherents of the Chabad movement regarding the coming of the mashiach or Moshiach (Messiah), and their goal to raise awareness that his arrival is imminent. In addition, the term also refers more specifically to the belief that Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Chabad’s seventh leader, is the...

Mishneh Torah, a code of Jewish law by Maimonides, a Sephardic Jew

Sephardic Judaism

Sephardic Judaism Sephardic law and customs are the practice of Judaism by the Sephardim, the descendants of the historic Jewish community of the Iberian Peninsula. Some definitions of “Sephardic” also include Mizrahi Jews, many of whom follow the same traditions of worship but have different ethno-cultural traditions. Sephardi Rite is not...

Samaritanism

Samaritanism The Samaritan religion, also known as Samaritanism, is the national religion of the Samaritans. The Samaritans adhere to the Samaritan Torah, which they believe is the original, unchanged Torah, as opposed to the Torah used by Jews. In addition to the Samaritan Torah, Samaritans also revere their version of the Book of Joshua and recognize some Biblical figures, such as Eli. Samaritanism...

The 16 Scrolls of the complete Tanakh, Old Testament Scrolls on display in Glen Rose, Texas

Hebrew Bible

The Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible, also called the Tanakh (Tenakh, Tenak, Tanach) or Mikra, is the canonical collection of Hebrew scripture, which is also the textual source for the Christian Old Testament. These texts are composed mainly in Biblical Hebrew, with some passages in Biblical Aramaic (in the books of Daniel, Ezra...

Religious Zionism

Religious Zionism Religious Zionism (צִיּוֹנוּת דָּתִית, translit. Tziyonut Datit, or דָּתִי לְאוּמִּי Dati Leumi “National Religious”, or כִּיפָּה סְרוּגָה Kippah seruga, literally, “knitted skullcap”) is an ideology that combines Zionism and Orthodox Judaism. Before the establishment of the State of Israel, Religious Zionists were mainly observant Jews who supported Zionist efforts to build a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. After the Six-Day...

A member of the American LGBTQ community praying next to an ultra-Orthodox man at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, May 2016. Credit: Eyal Warshavsky

Modern Orthodox Judaism

Modern Orthodox Judaism Modern Orthodox Judaism (also Modern Orthodox or Modern Orthodoxy) is a movement within Orthodox Judaism that attempts to synthesize Jewish values and the observance of Jewish law with the secular, modern world. Modern Orthodoxy draws on several teachings and philosophies, and thus assumes various forms. In the United States, and generally in the Western world, Centrist Orthodoxy underpinned by the philosophy of Torah Umadda (“Torah and...

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