Want to know more about Judaism? Here are 25 Interesting Facts about Judaism that you probably didn’t know before reading this!
To make this even more interesting, I want to challenge you as well. How many of these Jewish facts did you know before reading this? Share your result in the comment section!
Judaism has several different sects
There are three main branches within Judaism, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews. In addition to these, there are some smaller denominations of Judaism as well, and each represents their own unique ways and practices.
All of them are following what they understand and interpret as the real and authentic version of Judaism. The basics of their belief are the same as they all share the same origin.
Shabbat is the Jewish holy day
Just like the Sunday is the holy day in Christianity, and Friday is the holy day within Islam, the Shabbat is the holy day within the Jewish faith.
The Shabbat begins on Friday at sunset and continues until the next day until nightfall. It’s a day for rest and prayer services, and it includes lighting candles, eating dinner, and drinking wine as well as saying farewell to the Shabbat.
The Torah is the holy book of Judaism
The Torah typically refers to the first five books of the 24 books of the Tanakh, and it includes the laws that Moses received from God. Both the Bible and Quran share a lot of similarities with the Torah.
Judaism is one of the three Abrahamic religions
The Temple Mount is the holiest site for Jews
The Temple Mount is considered sacred for Jews since they believe that God has manifested here more than in other places. When praying, the Jews turn towards Temple Mount.
With that said, it’s forbidden to pray on Temple Mount due to its sacredness and Jews may only enter the place to visit on limited times. This is also the reason why the Western wall has become such an important site for the Jews.
The Jewish people began as slaves according to the book of Exodus
The book of Exodus tells us about how Yahwe helped Moses to free the Jewish people from slavery in Ancient Egypt. It also tells that the Israelites are the chosen people of God.
In Hebrew, the Book of Exodus is known as שְׁמוֹת, shemōt. It’s the second book of the Hebrew Bible and it’s generally attributed to Moses, although most scholars today see it as unlikely that Moses actually wrote the Book of Exodus.
The Bar Mitzvah is the rite of passage into adulthood
Bar Mitzvah (for boys) and Bat Mitzvah (for girls) is an important tradition within Judaism.
It is mentioned in the Talmud and marks the age when a child becomes accountable for their action as a man or woman. Before the Bar Mitzvah, the responsibility of the child’s actions is held by the parents.
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah also makes the boy or girl eligible to participate in public religious worship and observing the commandments in a more serious way.
There are 613 Commandments in the Law of Moses
This is also known as the Talmud, which is the main source of Jewish religious law. These commandments are also known as mitzvot, and have further been divided into three main categories: mishpatim, edot, and chukim.
Synagogues are the place of worship in Judaism
The Synagogue is the place of Jewish worship and prayer services. It is believed that synagogues came to existence during the Babylonian captivity in Israel as a result of Jewish temples being inaccessible for worship.
Today, the synagogue is the center of every Jewish community around the world. Some synagogues also have separate rooms for studying the Torah. Unless you’re Jewish, this might be one of the facts about Judaism that you didn’t already know.
There is no original Torah existing today
The oldest Torah scroll ever found dates back to some 800 years ago, and it was found at a university in Bologna. Old and damaged Torahs have to be buried or stored in a closed room in a synagogue.
This means that the first Torah to ever be written doesn’t exist anymore. Many of the Torah scrolls have also been destroyed by other cultures in times of war.
Some older important documents and fragments still exist, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls (408 BCE to 318 CE), Nash Papyrus (2nd century BCE), En-Gedi Scroll (3rd or 4th century CE) just to mention a few.
Since the time of Moses, there have been many changes within the practice of Judaism by various Rabbis, although the core of the beliefs hasn’t changed.
The spiritual leader of Judaism is known as Rabbi
Every Jewish community has a Rabbi, who is the spiritual leader and teacher of Torah. Unlike priests in Christianity, the Rabbi doesn’t hold a special degree of divinity, they are simply more educated about Jewish laws and religious practice.
The Chief Rabbinate of Israel consists of two Chief Rabbis: an Ashkenazi rabbi and a Sephardi rabbi, which are elected for a 10 years period. Since the 17th century, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem is also known as Rishon LeZion.
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday known as the festival of lights
Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem, and it goes on for eight days, where a candle in a special menorah is lit every night.
It also includes gift-giving and eating food, which has led to the modern comparison with Christmas, although they celebrate different things. The date of Hanukkah is on a different date each year, but always on the 25th of the month, following the Hebrew month of Kislev.
The religious symbol of Judaism is the Star of David
The Star of David has appeared on Jewish buildings and tombstones for many centuries, and it became the symbol for the worldwide Zionist community in the late 1800s.
There are three pilgrimage festivals in Judaism
Within Judaism, there are three major religious festivals every year, and these are Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Weeks or Pentecost), and Sukkot (Tabernacles, Tents or Booths).
The Passover celebrates and honor the journey from slavery to freedom. According to the Torah, Jews should observe Passover for seven days. The Shavuot commemorated the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai to the Jewish people.
And Sukkot pay tribute to the years that the Jews spent in the desert on their way to the Promised Land. Traditionally, every Jewish family should build an open-air structure where they will live during the Sukkot, and it should be built of branches and leaves.
The Western Wall is a holy site for prayer and pilgrimage
Since Jews are prohibited from praying on Temple Mount, the closest site which is connected to the holiest place in Judaism is the Western Wall. That is why it’s an important site for prayer and pilgrimage for Jews.
5 x Facts about Jews
If you want to learn facts about Judaism, it might also be interesting to know more about Jews, who are following the religion.
- There are some 14.6 million jews in the world
- Anyone born to a Jewish mother is Jewish
- Some six million Jews were killed during the holocaust
- The Jews are still waiting for their Messiah
- Jews are only allowed to eat food that is deemed Kosher
5 x Judaism Facts for Kids
- There is only one God according to the Jewish faith (Yahweh)
- Jews cannot eat animals that do not have split hooves and do not chew their cud
- Judaism is the oldest Abrahamic religion
- Yom Kippur is one of the holiest days of the year for Jews
- Moses freed the people from slavery in Egypt
Frequently asked questions about Judaism and Jews
In addition to some interesting facts about Judaism, you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions below.
What is the Jewish headpiece called?
The Jewish headpiece is known as Kippah, and it’s worn by Jewish males as a sign of virtue.
Who started Judaism?
Abraham started Judaism and is according to the Torah, the first man who God revealed himself to.
How do Jews worship?
Jews should pray three times every day, once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening. It’s important that the prayer comes fully from one’s heart.
A Jewish person can pray in three ways, which are the following: prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of praise, and prayers that ask for things.
What is God’s name in Hebrew?
YHWH יהוה is the Tetragrammaton of God in Hebrew, often spelled as Yahweh in English.
How many Jews are in the world?
There are about 14.6 million Jews in the world, and additionally, a few million more if considering those who have Jewish ancestry and are included in the enlarged population of Jews.
Can Jews drink alcohol?
Consumption of alcohol is permitted within Judaism, and it can even be encouraged during religious ceremonies, although moderation is generally encouraged when it comes to drinking alcohol.
Are Jews circumcised?
Circumcision is a Jewish tradition that is performed eight days after a boy’s birth and is known as Brit Milah.
What are the basic beliefs of Judaism?
The main beliefs of Judaism are Monotheism, Identity, and covenant (love of God). Judaism tells that God wants people to be compassionate and do what is just.
Furthermore, according to the Jewish faith, there is only one God and humans are made in his image. Jews also believe that the Messiah will come and unite all the world’s people to serve God.
What’s the difference between Judaism and Christianity?
There are many differences and similarities between Judaism and Christianity. After all, both of them are Abrahamic religions, and Jesus was Jewish. One main difference is that Judaism rejects God in human form, they simply see God as one divine presence.
Jews also believe in collective and individual dialogue with God, which is fulfilled by rituals, prayers, tradition and ethical actions that are described in the Talmud. The Christians follow the Bible, and Jews follow the Torah.
In Judaism, sin is considered a part of life but they reject the Christian belief of original sin. The Hebrew Bible also tells that God will forgive if a person shows repentance and pray.
There are also different views on heaven and hell, which is set clear in Christian faith whereas Judaism doesn’t speak much about heaven and hell.
According to Judaism, the good people of all faiths and walks of life will go to the Gan Eden (Garden of Eden) or the Olam Ha’bah (the World-to-come). If you’re a bad jew, however, you won’t go to “heaven” but instead come to Gehenna for a limited time of 12 months before they are considered pure enough to enter Gan Eden. However, even bad jews can repent and avoid punishment.
There are many differences between Christianity and Judaism, and below are some short differences that might be interesting to know if you want to learn some facts about Judaism.
- The Jewish religious leader (rabbi) is not divine, the Christian priest is considered more divine than a regular person
- Judaism doesn’t recognize Jesus as the son of God and they reject God in human form
- Jews have many traditions and festivals which aren’t observed within Christianity
- Male Jews are wearing a Kippah to show virtue, Christian males do not
- Jews have to eat Kosher food, Christians can eat everything
- You are born a Jew, whereas Christians are baptized
- The synagogue is the place of worship in Judaism, in Christianity, the church is the place of worship
- Jews are still waiting for the Messiah, and Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah
- There is no devil according to Judaism
- Original sin doesn’t exist within Judaism, all people are born good and innocent
How many of these Judaism Facts did you know beforehand? Share your result in the comment section below!