Judaism By: Jordan Smevoll

Origin Story

Judaism is an Ethnic religion, the only Abrahamic religion to be considered an Ethnic religion. The other religions, Christianity and Islam, are Universal religions.

Differences between Ethnic and Universal Religions


The Hearth of Judaism is in Canaan (Present-Day Israel and Palestine). Judaism was founded in 2000 B.C.E. by Abraham.

Map of Canaan in Relation to Egypt

Diffusion, Dispersal, and Evolution

Judaism began with Abraham, who was from Mesopotamia (present day Iraq and surrounding area). He migrated to Israel, then called Canaan. His children brought the religion to Egypt, where they were enslaved for the next few hundred years. Upon their exodus from Egypt, they were given the Torah (the holy book of Judaism), and then returned to the land of Israel. All the Jews lived in Israel for the next 800 years, after which many were exiled to Babylon (again, present day Iraq and surrounding area). 70 years later, many of the exiled Jews returned to Israel, though some chose to stay in the centers of learning they had established in Babylon. This is the first time that the center of Judaism split - half in Israel, half in Babylon. 400 years later, the second Temple was destroyed, only a small population of Jews remained in Israel, while the rest migrated south and west.

Major Branches, Denominations, and Sects of Judaism

Three Branches: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform.

Sects: Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, Zealots.

Symbols Associated with Judaism

The Menorah
The Star of David

Major Beliefs

  • Practice Monotheism- belief that there is only 1 God
  • Follow Ten Commandments
  • Believe that the messiah will take them back to the holy land

Sacred Text

The Torah- words written in Hebrew that hold the beliefs of Judaism

The Synagogue is the Jewish place of Worship. Synagogues are consecrated spaces used for the purpose of prayer, Torah reading, study and assembly. Synagogues have a large hall for prayer. It is not always used for worship though.

Synagogue: Jewish house of Worship

Sacred Spaces:

  • Synagogue
  • Homes of the Jews: eat important meals here and have family time
  • Western Wall
  • Temple Mount in Jerusalem

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