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University of Waterloo
Religious Studies
RS 130
Uzma Rehman

JUDAISM PLACES OF WORSHIP:- The Synagogue is the Jewish equivalent of a church, more or less. It is the center of the Jewish community: a place of prayer, study and education, social and charitable work, as well as a social center. -Synagogue means the "place of assembly". -Synagogues do not pass around a collection plate like they do at most churches because Jews are not permitted to carry money on holidays and Shabbat. -Synagogues are normally positioned facing Jerusalem, which is the way they are supposed to pray. -Synagogues separate men from women because men are not supposed to pray in the presence of women, they are supposed to focus on prayer, not pretty girls. Temple: The temple is the place in Jerusalem that was the center of Jewish religion from the time of Solomon to its destruction by the Romans in 70 C.E. It is the one and only place where sacrifices and other rituals were performed. Traditional Jews believe that The Temple will be rebuilt when the Messiah comes. They pray for this day continually and eagerly wait for it. FESTIVALS/HOLIDAYS:- Jewish festivals and holidays serve to remind people of their history and to distinguish them as a faith community. For Jews, festivals marks the Jewish year and are a time for family, tradition, joy and reflection. Some Jewish holidays/festivals include:- 1. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year, it falls in September or early October. It begins a ten-day period of rependence, ending with the festival of Yom kippur. The two days of Rosh Hashanah and the eight days that follow concentrate on an assessment of conduct and behaviour in the previous year. Jews request forgiveness from God and from other human beings for their mistakes and trangressions. On the Saturday evening before Rosh Hashanah, a service is held at the Synagogue. At the service, an important ritual that is performed is the sounding of the Shofar, the ram's horn. In biblical times, the Shofar was used to call people together. Yom Kippur is the most solumn religious day of the Jewish year, marked by a twenty-five hour fast and prayers of repentance. Regular activities are avoided on this day because the task of repentance is so important. Signs of luxury and comfort are not allowed in order to demonstrate that this day is better spent in prayer. Work is not permitted on the holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the first, second, seventh and eighth days of Pesach (Passover). For some Jews who live in a secular society, it is hard for them because our holiday days are different from theirs. An observant Jew would take thirteen off of work just to observe holildays. 2. Hanukkah:- The best known Jewish holiday or festival is Hanukkah. It is the festival of dedication, or lights. This is an eight-day period that falls in December that celebrates the events of the Maccabean revolt (see Judaism; History). As part of the celebration of Hanukkah, a candle is lit for each of the eight days in a special candle holder, or Menorah. Each night, families gather to light the candles and recite specail blessings. In North America, it has become customary to exchange gifts 3. Pesach:- "The feast of the Passover" is usually held in April, over seven or eight days. This holiday is extremely important because it commemorates the freeing of the Hebrews from slavery-Exodus. The holiday celebrates the Jewish people's identity, more so than other holidays. During the entire week of Pesach, Jews do not eat anything chametz, or leavened, in order to commemorate the haste in which the Hebrews has to flee from their oppressor. The Sedar, a ritual service and ceremonial dinner, is held at home on the first night of Pesach. It includes songs, special food, and prayers of praise. CONCEPT OF GOD/BELIEFS:- Thirteen principle's of Faith: 1. God exists 2. God is one and unique 3. God is incorporeal 4. God is eternal 5. Prayer is to be directed to God alone and no other 6. The words of the prophets are true 7. Moses' prophecies are true, and Moses was the greatest of the prophets 8. The written Torah and Oral Torah were given to Moses 9. There will be no other Torah 10. God knows the thoughts and deeds of men 11. God will reward the good and punish the wicked 12. The Messiah will come 13. The dead will be resurrected Judaism focuses on relationships: the relationship between God and mankind, between God and the Jewish nation, between the Jewish nation and the Land of Israel, and between human beings. Judaism is more based on action than beliefs. God is so sacred to Jews that they never speak his name and they spell it "G-d". This is a sign of respect for God to them. God Exists: The Torah begins by stating "In the beginning, G-d created..." It does not tell who G-d is or how He was created. God is One: One of the primary expressions of Jewish faith, recited twice daily in prayer, is the Shema, which begins "Hear, Israel: The L-rd is our G- d, The L-rd is one." This statement gives off different ideas: 1. 1. There is only one God. No other being participated in the work of creation 2. 2. God is a unity. He is a single, whole, complete indivisible entity. 3. 3. God is the only being who we should offer praise. God is the Creator of Everything: Jews believe everything in the universe was created by G-d and only by G-d. Judaism rejects the dualistic notion that evil was created by the devil, all comes from G-d. God is Incorporeal: Jews believe even though in the scriptures and Talmud they speak of different parts of God's body, or speak of god in terms of action (God walking to the garden of Eden), Judaism believes that God has no body. It is simply a figure of speech when there are any references to God's body. It is forbidden to represent God in a physical form. God is Neither Male nor Female: This is followed from the fact that God has no body. God is Omnipresent: It is believed that God is in all places at all times. They believe that he us always near for Jews to call him when in need, and he see's all that they do. They don't believe that god is just the God of the Jews, they believe he is the God of all nations. God is Omnipotent: Jews believe that God can do anything. God is Omniscient: Jews believe god knows all things, past, present, and future and he knows the
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