Judaism isn’t just one of the oldest religions in the world – it’s also one that left its mark on history. Delve into the depths of Jewish heritage by learning its principles, origins, and practices with these Judaism facts.
- There are between 14.5 to 17.4 million Jews in the world today.
- Judaism is the 10th largest religion in the world today.
- Only 43% of Jews live in Israel.
- Another 43% of Jews live in the USA and Canada.
- The remaining 24% of Jews live in scattered communities around the world.
- Judaism developed as a distinct religion in the Bronze Age.
- Sargon II of Assyria conquered the Kingdom of Israel in the 8th century BC.
- The Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah in the 6th century BC and destroyed the First Temple in the process.
- Jews from Israel and Judah lived in exile in Media and Babylonia until the Persian Conquest.
- The Jews built the Second Temple during the 5th century BC.
- After the Great Revolt in the 1st century AD, the Romans destroyed the Second Temple.
- After the Bar Kokhba Revolt in the 2nd century AD, the Romans expelled the Jews from Israel, beginning the diaspora.
- Judaism developed in a decentralized fashion in the centuries of the diaspora.
- Jews faced oppression from Christians and occasionally, from Muslims, during the Middle Ages.
- The Enlightenment in the 18th century saw the oppression of the Jews begin to drop.
- The name Judaism comes from Yehudah or Judah.
- Christianity started out as an offshoot of Judaism that developed into its own distinct religion.
- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam together form what’s called the Abrahamic Religions.
- Orthodox Judaism is the religion’s largest branch.
- The Tanakh is the Jewish Bible.
Judaism Facts Infographics
Judaism has 13 Principles of Faith.
Maimonides was a Jewish philosopher and scholar who lived in the 12th century. Though born in Spain, he lived and died in Egypt, his people burying him in neighboring Israel afterward. He conducted many studies on astronomy and medicine, but his greatest achievement was the 13 Principles of Faith. These principles came from his study of Jewish oral traditions, going back to before Roman times. Though other scholars criticized the principles over the centuries, they remain the most popular formulation of the core teachings of the Jewish faith today.
Circumcision is a Jewish tradition.
Circumcision is a surgical procedure where a doctor removes the foreskin of a man’s penis. This tradition is among the oldest of the Jewish faith, going back to ancient times. Scholars argue that at the most basic level, the reason for the tradition is to mark any Jewish man apart from other men. Other scholars argue that even at the time, the medical benefits of circumcision were already known and that the early Jews incorporated it into their tradition. There’s one of the more iconic Judaism facts.
The Torah and the Pentateuch are one and the same.
The Torah is the foundation of all Jewish holy texts. Every other holy text builds on what the Torah teaches. However, the Torah isn’t a single book. In fact, Christianity named it the Pentateuch. In Latin, it means five books, which is the first five books of the Christian and Jewish Bibles. That is Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. How’s that for interesting Judaism facts?
Judaism is more than a religion.
One of the most important Judaism facts is that it’s not just a religion. Judaism is a culture, a political force, and even an ethnic group. The Jews are their own people, with a distinct ethnic identity like how Europeans, Asians, and Africans are distinct from each other. Unlike other religions, they use their own alphabet and language for both secular and religious purposes.
Christianity and Islam, are multi-ethnic religions but lack a language or alphabet the way Aramaic is for Jews. Christianity borrowed Latin from the Romans, and Islam borrowed Arabic from the Arabs. In terms of politics, Judaism is also tied to the Jewish’s people history and continuing desire for a country of their own. This goes back to ancient times, with the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and the modern nation of Israel.
There’s a difference between Conservative and Orthodox Judaism.
Usually, orthodoxy and conservatism go hand-in-hand. However, that’s not the case when it comes to Judaism. Orthodox Judaism firmly holds that written teachings and oral traditions come from God, and must remain unchanged by time. In contrast, Conservative Judaism holds that while both written teaching and oral traditions have a divine origin, how they’re interpreted is up to the rabbis, and may reflect modern circumstances.
Reform Judaism is the most flexible form of Judaism.
Reform Judaism or Liberal Judaism originated from Central Europe before spreading to Britain and the United States. Influenced by the Enlightenment of the 18th century, Reform Judaism follows looser interpretations of Jewish law and teachings. Reform Judaism also incorporates some . Reform Judaism also puts greater emphasis on the prophets’ examples as role models for the Jewish community.
Jews recite prayers 3 times a day.
In Aramaic, daily Jewish prayers are called Shacharit, Mincha, and Ma’ariv, or morning, afternoon, and evening prayers. Jewish tradition usually involves group prayers, but it’s allowed for individuals to pray alone if they’d prefer.
Jews have several kinds of religious clothing.
One of those is the kippah, a skullcap worn when praying, eating, or studying. It’s also not unknown for some Jews to wear them at all times. Another example of religious clothing is the tallit, a prayer shawl worn during prayer services. Tallits also have distinctive designs called tzitzit, knotted fringes or tassels at each corner of the shawl.
Judaism follows the concept of the Sabbath.
According to the Old Testament, God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th day. Therefore, Christians and Jews believe that people should follow His example, and observe the 7th day’s rest. However, Jews often refer to it by its Hebrew term, Shabbat.
Judaism has three main religious festivals.
The three major events observed in Judaism are the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. These religious practices all have connections to Jewish history. The Passover celebrates the Jews’ departure from Egypt, and freedom from slavery at Egyptian hands. Meanwhile, the Pentecost marks the celebration of God’s teachings at Mount Sinai. Finally, the Tabernacles celebrates their 40 years of wandering in the desert before finally reaching the Promised Land.