By Vexen Crabtree 2015
|Links: Pages on Judaism, Other Religions|
|Texts||Tanakh and Talmud|
|Area of Origin||Babylon (mostly - now Iraq) and Israel|
|When||1st millennium BCE|
|Founder||Combination of prehistoric practices which became organized in Babylon|
|Numbers in the UK (Census results)|
|2001||259 927||2011||263 000|
|Jews Worldwide (Pew & WM)|
|World: 0.225%. Israel (75.6%), Gibraltar (2.1%), USA (1.8%), Monaco (1.7%), Belize (1%), Canada (1%), Cayman Islands (0.8%), Moldova (0.6%), Bahrain (0.6%), UK (0.5%), France (0.5%), Australia (0.5%), Argentina (0.5%) 1|
Judaism is one of the most ancient religions, and became largely codified in Babylon in the 6th century BCE2. It was perhaps the first religion to be comprehensively monotheistic. Jews believe that God has a special covenant with the Jewish community3, as testified to in the Torah. From Judaism sprang both Christianity and Islam. Judaism is counted as one of the great world religions4,5.
Ethics Of Reciprocity like the Golden Rule and the Wiccan Rede Do Not Work: In Judaism it is expressed in Shabbat 31a: That which is hateful unto thee do not do unto thy neighbour. This is the whole of the Torah. The rest is commentary (2015)
Links and other pages:
|Pos.||Pew Forum (2010)1||Worldmapper (2005)6|
|22||US Virgin Islands||0.3%|
The way that the religious and cultural identity of the Jews is intermingled means that statistics often include both religious Jews and secular (non-religious) ones. For example, atheist Jews make up a sizeable portion of Jews worldwide.
The population of only one country is half (or mostly) Jew (2011)1. Comparing those 1 country(ies) to the rest of the world:
Jew countries' average life expectancy at birth (82.6yrs) is better than the global average (71.3yrs).7
Jew countries' average fertility rate is 2.91, compared with the global average of 2.81. Values above 2.1 cause population growth, putting further strain on the Earth's resources. See: The Population of the Earth.8
Jew countries' are richer than the global average with an average Gross National Income (GNI; per capita) of $31 215. This compares to the global average of $17 240.9
When it comes to tolerance of homosexuality and LGBT rights, Jews' countries are better than the global average, scoring 44 on the Social and Moral Development Index LGBT component compared with the global average of 2.3.
In Ethiopia, Jews are organized as Beta Israel (House of Israel) and known to outsiders as the Falasha or Felasha11. Although they are traditionally said to be descendants of Queen Sheba and King Solomon, their ancestors are actually local converts to Judaism from between 100BCE to 100CE11. The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906)12 says that their origin is unknown but that the Falashas have never had any copies of any Jewish Hebrew texts and knew nothing of the Talmud13 (which would not be the case for descendants of Jewish royalty), and, DNA tests have now proven that the Falasha are indeed truly descendants of their fellow Ethiopians rather than from Hebrew stock14. After Ethiopia converted to Christianity in the 4th century CE, the Falasha Jews were persecuted violently for many centuries, until the Catholic Church in the 15th and 16th centuries eventually crushed them and confiscated all their lands. As the Catholic Church slowly lost its power, their "conditions improved in the late 19th and 20th centuries, at which time tens of thousands of Falasha lived in the region north of Lake Tana"11, near the border with Sudan. From 1975 they were permitted by Israel to immigrate and they began to do so slowly until the Sudanese civil war of 1991 threatened the entire community and 20,000 of them were evacuated to Israel15. As of 1997, only around 500 remained in Ethiopia15.
There are four main forms of Judaism.
Orthodox Judaism "sees itself as the upholder of traditional Judaism. Hebrew is the language used at all services, and traditional Jewish law (halakhah) is observed concerning food and behaviour. Among [them] are the Hassidic Jews, whose dress and lifestyle is that of eighteenth-century Eastern Europe, particularly Poland, where the Hassidic movement began. They are distinguished by their black clothing, long coats, and tall or wide hats"17.
Liberal Judaism (called "Reform Judaism" in the USA)... "This arose in the early nineteenth century as an attempt to make Judaism a more modern faith, unencumbered by what its founders saw as outdated dietary laws and the exclusive use of Hebrew in worship. It also embraced modern biblical scholarship; for example, it does not teach that Moses wrote the five books of the Torah. [...] They observe some dietary laws, but not nearly as many as those observed by the Orthodox"17. See: "What is Liberal Judaism" on liberaljudaism.org.
Conservative Judaism is primarily found in the USA and is known elsewhere as "Reform Judaism". "It seeks to observe the traditional Jewish laws (halakhah), but also allows modifications, so long as these are seen to be loyal to the Law and to developments of the laws over the centuries. For example in 1960 the Conservative Jews agreed to the use of electricity on the sabbath and to using a car to travel to the synagogue - something Orthodox Judaism would not permit"17.
Secular Judaism describes the modern advent of the non-religious Jew, who engages in cultural practices and family customs but is not religious, and probably not even theistic. This describes a large proportion of Jews18,19,20, "for example, less than a third of American Jews are members of one of the religious movement into which Judaism is divided"19. Also known as "cultural Jews".20. See: Non-Religious Secular Jews (Cultural Judaism).
Calendar: "The Jewish calendar is lunar, but every few years a thirteenth month is added to keep in step with the solar year. The new day beings at nightfall, so festivals begin in the evening. The years are counted from the traditional Jewish dating of the creation of the world, thus CE 2000 is the Jewish year 5760"21.
Diet and Food Laws are complicated. Collectively they are called kushrut. Everyone knows that Jews don't eat pig, but also rabbit, hare, camel and rock badger are all forbidden. "The only land animals that are kosher are those that both chew the cud and have a cloven hoof. [...] Fish must have both fins and scales, so shellfish are [forbidden too]. Animals and birds must be ritually slaughtered in the correct manner by an adult Jew, and certain parts of the animal may not be eaten. Meat must be drained of blood before being cooked. Meat products and dairy products may not be eaten together or at the same meal, and great care is taken in Orthodox Jewish households to keep them separate at every stage of preparation"22. As a result of these laws, it is almost impossible for Jews to eat-out in normal restaurants or to visit non-Jews' houses for meals22. "It is one of the issues over which the Reform and Orthodox are most divided, for Reform Jews have a much wider definition of what is kosher"22. As a result of these superstitious practices, Judaism, alongside Islam, has found itself associated with brutal ritual animal slaughter practices. For more, see: "Animal Sacrifice and Blood Rituals in Traditional World Religions and in Satanism" by Vexen Crabtree (2008).
The Holocaust afflicted the Jews as a result of the racist doctrines of Germany under the Nazis. 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis during World War 223, and they saw themselves as carrying on God's work, basing their biases on a long history of Christian anti-semitism. See: Anti-Semitism: 2000 Years of Christian Love.
Holy Scriptures and Writings:
Religious Studies and Good General Education: In the USA when it comes to knowing basic facts about Christianity and world religions, a Pew Forum poll in 2010 found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons, know most of their facts, all being able to answer over 20 out of 30 questions on religion. Mainline Protestants and Catholics were less knowledgeable. The biggest factor contributing to this was the level of general education, which is better amongst Jews.27
Symbol: "The menorah, a seven-branched candlestick, stood in the Temple in Jerusalem in ancient times, and its design is described in the Torah. The central branch is said to represent the sabbath, the day when God rested after creating the world"3.
The influence of Jewish Magic:
“The importance of the Torah in the formation of the founding myths of grimoires is clear, as is the influence of Jewish magic in the Graeco-Egyptian papyri. [...] During the twelfth century some Spanish Jewish intellectuals became particularly interested in astral magic, for instance, incorporating it into their theologies and philosophies of medicine. Through the Jewish scholarly community it subsequently permeated more widely in Europe. [...] As to the circulation of Jewish grimoires in medieval Europe the picture is less clear. We know how prominent Jewish magic was in Egypt in late antiquity, and it was a considerable influence on the later Arabic tradition, but determining what was available in the medieval period is, for the moment, a matter of guesswork.”
In his description of Humanistic Judaism, Prof. Partridge notes that modern secular academics dispute the entire Biblical pseudo-history of the Jewish peoples.
“According to Sherwin Wine, the major exponent of Humanistic Judaism, the traditional conception of Jewish history is mistaken. In his view, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob never existed. Furthermore, the Exodus account is a myth: 'There is no historical evidence to substantiate a massive Hebrew departure from the land of the Pharaohs. As far as we can surmise, the Hebrew occupation of the hill country on both sides of the Jordan was continuous. The 12 tribes never left their ancestral land, never endured 400 years of slavery, and never wandered the Sinai desert.' Moreover, Moses was not the leader of the Hebrews, nor did he compose the Torah. In this light, it is an error to regard the biblical account as authoritative; rather it is a human record of the history of the Israelite nation, the purpose of which is to reinforce the faith of the Jewish nation. [...] Humanistic Judaism thus offers an option for those who wish to identify with the Jewish community despite their rejection of the traditional understanding of God's nature and activity.”
Current edition: 2015 Jan 03
Last Modified: 2017 Jul 11
Second edition 2009 Jun 27
Originally published 2004 Oct 06
Parent page: A List of All Religions and Belief Systems
All #tags used on this page - click for more:
Breuilly, O'Brien & Palmer
(1997) Religions of the World. Subtitled: "The Illustrated Guide to Origins, Beliefs, Traditions, & Festivals". Published by Lionheart Books. By Elizabeth Breuilly, Joanne O'Brien & Martin Palmer. Published for Transedition Limited and Fernleigh Books. A hardback book.
(2009) Grimoires: A History of Magic Books. Published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. Davies is Professor of Social History at the University of Hertfordshire, UK. A hardback book.
(1987, Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Religion. Published by Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, USA. 16 huge volumes. Eliade is editor-in-chief. Entries are alphabetical, so, no page numbers are given in references, just article titles. A hardback book.
Finkelstein & Silberman
(2002) The Bible Unearthed. Subtitled: "Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and The Origin of Its Sacred Texts". Amazon Kindle digital edition. Published by The Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc, NY, USA. Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman. An e-book.
Murray et al.
(2009) Hammond Atlas of World Religions. Published by Hammond World Atlas Corporation, Langenscheidt Publishing Group, New York, USA. Contributing authors: Stuart A.P. Murray; Robert Huber; Elizabeth Mechem; Sarah Novak; Devid West Reynolds, PhD; Tricia Wright; Thomas Cussans. A hardback book.
Pew Forum. Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
(2012) The Global Religious Landscape: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Major Religious Groups as of 2010. Published 2012 Dec 18, accessed online 2013 May 01.
(2013) Human Development Report. Published by the UN Development Programme. This edition had the theme of The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World. Available on hdr.undp.org/... UN Development Program: About the Human Development Index.
(2008) Worldmapper Datasets 551-582: Religion. Worldmapper Datasets 551-582: Religion (2008 Mar 26) on worldmapper.org/.../religion_data.xls, accessed 2013 Nov 11. Authored by John Protchard, published by SASI, University of Shieffield. Data is for year 2005, with some datasets being edited from original sources to remove the effects of double-counting, and, adjusting for population changes between 2002 and 2005.