Judaism: Definition, History, Beliefs, Features & Symbols

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Judaism – One of the three Abrahamic religions originating in the Middle East.

What is Judaism?

Judaism is the oldest monotheistic religion in existence, and along with Christianity and Islam, one of the three Abrahamic religions originating in the Middle East.

Christianity has derived from Judaism, and despite being so old, it is one of the religions with the fewest believers. It is estimated that it has about 14 million followers around the world.

The practice of this religion is based on the cult and diffusion of the Torah, considered as the law of Judaism, which is narrated by Moses. This in turn is one of the first parts of the Tanakh, of sacred inspiration for the Jewish religion.

This religion has a set of practices, traditions and customs that characterize the people who are part of its culture.

Although different variants of Judaism are recognized, the best known are Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, and Reform Judaism.


Image of the Star of David, one of the symbols of Judaism.

Characteristics of Judaism

The main characteristics of the Jewish religion are as follows:

  • It is a monotheistic religion, since it believes in a single god, whose name traditionally should not be pronounced, although it is common to use the name of Yahveh.
  • It has several books of a sacred nature, including the Tanach, the Torah (first part of the Tanach), the Mishnah and the Talmud.
  • Practice circumcision or Brit Mila, which is performed on men on the 8th day of their birth.
  • His holy day is Saturday, or Shabbat, which is dedicated to rest.
  • Its leader or head of religion is the rabbi, the highest authority figure, religious and moral leadership.
  • The current best-known symbol of Judaism is the Star of David.
  • Its days are governed by a calendar with a combination of monthly lunar and annual solar, where the festivities and traditional activities of Judaism are found.
  • The cult is celebrated in the temple or synagogue, the most important ceremonial place of the religion.
  • His sacred language is Hebrew, which is used for all rituals and sacred texts.

Judaism Customs

Judaism has a series of laws and traditional customs that influence the lives of believers.

The feeding must be strictly of animals considered pure, those with cloven hooves, ruminants, fish with scales and fins. The meat must be prepared by removing the blood and cannot be consumed with any dairy.

They also have celebrations such as circumcision and the Bar-Mitzvah, an initiation ceremony in adulthood, which is celebrated from the age of 13 in boys and from the age of 12 in girls.

Yom Kippur is the so-called day of atonement and fasting, and there the destruction of the temple and the exile of Israel are commemorated. This is one of the best known festivals of the cult.

Only gravestones are placed in cemeteries to commemorate the deceased and cremation of bodies is not allowed. In addition, the bereavement must last 30 days after the death of the person.

Founder of Judaism

The Jewish religion does not have a main founder, but its tradition dates back to Abraham, considered the first Hebrew and together with Isaac and Jacob, the founder of the Hebrew people.

The Jewish religion began in Canaan, where Abraham migrated according to God’s instructions and where Jacob had 12 children, who gave rise to the initial 12 tribes of the Jewish people.

Symbols of Judaism

The Jewish religion has a series of symbols and emblems that define and characterize its believers, among which the following stand out:

  • Tallit: Type of shawl used in synagogues, at the time of Sajarit prayer.
  • Tefillin or Phylactery: Two small leather boxes with a strap, which contain the religious scriptures of Judaism and are placed on the left arm and on the head.
  • Menorah: 7-branched candelabrum, one of the oldest symbols of religion, which is considered the symbol of the divine spirit.
  • Kippa: Small cap traditionally used by Jews to cover their head.
  • Star of David: Symbol of the Jewish cult that includes two interlocking triangles, which symbolize the relationship between God and humanity.
  • Jamsa: Symbol in the shape of a hand, also known as the “hand of Fatima“, used for protection.
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