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Judaism (from the Greek Ioudaïsmos, derived from the Hebrew יהודה, Yehudah, "Judah"; in Hebrew: יַהֲדוּת, Yahadut, the distinctive characteristics of the Judean eáqnov) is the religion of the Jewish people, based on principles and ethics embodied in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), as further explored and explained in the Talmud. In 2007, the world Jewish population was estimated at 13.2 million people—41 percent in Israel and 59 in the diaspora. The Jewish religion uses as a criterion, being born of a Jewish mother or taking the path of conversion as establishing Jewish identity for purposes of legitimate religious observation.

According to Jewish tradition, the history of Judaism begins with the Covenant between God and Abraham (ca. 2000 BCE), the patriarch and progenitor of the Jewish people. Judaism is among the oldest religious traditions still in practice today. Jewish history and doctrines have influenced other religions such as Christianity, Islam and the Bahá'í Faith.

Judaism differs from many religions in its revolutionary idea of only one God that cannot be represented by any form or image. Laws traditions, and learned Rabbis who interpret those texts comprise that authority through rigorous debate and halachic rulings. Throughout the ages, Judaism has clung to a number of religious principles, the most important of which is the belief in a single, omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent, transcendent God, who created the universe and continues to govern it. According to traditional Jewish belief, the God who created the world established a covenant with the Israelites, and revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of the Written Torah. Many Jews believe an Oral Torah was also revealed at the same time. The Jewish people are descendants of the ancient Israelites. The traditional practice of Judaism revolves around study and the observance of God's laws and commandments as written in the Torah and expounded in the Talmud, and contained in subsequent commentaries and codifications.

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Purim (Hebrew: פורים Pûrîm "lots", related to Akkadian pūru) is a rabbinically ordained Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman's genocidal plot to annihilate all of them in the ancient Persian Empire as recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. The Jews were in the Babylonian captivity because Babylonia had destroyed Solomon's Temple and dispersed the defeated Jews of the Kingdom of Judah. Babylonia was in turn conquered by Persia. Purim is characterized by public recitation of the Book of Esther, giving mutual gifts of food and drink, giving charity to the poor, and a celebratory meal (Esther 9:22); other customs include drinking wine, wearing of masks and costumes, and public celebration.
Purim is celebrated annually according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, the day following the victory of the Jews over their Persian oppressors which was on the 13th day of Adar. In cities that were protected by a surrounding wall at the time of Joshua, including Shushan (Susa) and Jerusalem, Purim is celebrated on the 15th of the month, known as Shushan Purim. As with all Jewish holidays, Purim begins at sundown on the previous secular day.
The first religious ceremony ordained for the celebration of Purim is the reading of the Book of Esther (the "Megillah") in the synagogue, a regulation ascribed in the Talmud (Megilla 2a) to the Sages of the Great Assembly, of which Mordecai is reported to have been a member. Originally this enactment was for the 14th of Adar only; later, however, Rabbi Joshua ben Levi (3rd century CE) prescribed that the Megillah should also be read on the eve of Purim. Further, he obliged women to attend the reading of the Megillah, inasmuch as it was a woman, Queen Esther, through whom the miraculous deliverance of the Jews was accomplished.
Purim is an occasion on which much joyous license is permitted within the walls of the synagogue itself. For example, during the public service in many congregations, when the reader of the Megillah mentions Haman (54 occurrences), there is boisterous hissing, stamping, and rattling. This practice traces its origin to the Tosafists (the leading French and German rabbis of the 13th century). In accordance with a passage in the Midrash, where the verse "Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek" (Deuteronomy 25:19) is explained to mean "even from wood and stones", the rabbis introduced the custom of writing the name of Haman, the offspring of Amalek, on two smooth stones and of knocking or rubbing them constantly until the name was blotted out.

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Shmura matza — a round matza about a foot in diameter — is made and baked by hand.
Machine-made matza is lighter and crispier than other types of matza.
Passover Seder Plate used at the center of the Passover Seder.
Passover holiday table set for the night Passover Seder. Note, the matza, wine, and the Passover Seder plate set on the resplendent table awaiting the participants.


Weekly Torah portion

VayakhelPekudei (פקודי ויקהל)
Exodus 35:1–40:38
The Weekly Torah portion in synagogues on Shabbat, Saturday, 27 Adar, 5770; March 13, 2010
"And let all among you who are skilled come and make all that the Lord has commanded." (Exodus 35:10.)
The High Priest wearing his breastplate
Moses convoked the Israelites to build the Tabernacle. Moses started by reminding them of God’s commandment to keep the Sabbath of complete rest. Then Moses told them to collect gifts of materials from those whose heart so moved them — gifts of gold, silver, copper, colored yarns, fine linen, goats’ hair, tanned ram skins, acacia wood, olive oil, spices, lapis lazuli, and other stones. Moses invited all who were skilled to make the Tabernacle, its furnishings, and the priests’ vestments. The Israelites brought the gifts that Moses requested. Moses announced that God had singled out Bezalel and Oholiab to endow them with the skills needed to construct the Tabernacle. And Moses called on them and all skilled persons to undertake the task. The Israelites brought more than was needed, so Moses proclaimed and end to the collection. The skilled workers fashioned the Tabernacle. Bezalel made the ark, cover, table, menorah, incense altar, altar for sacrifices, laver, and enclosure for the Tabernacle. At Moses’ direction, Aaron’s son Ithamar oversaw the accounts of the Tabernacle, and the text sets forth the amounts of gold, silver, and copper that Bezalel, Oholiab, and their coworkers used. The silver came from the half-shekel a head for each man 20 years old and older who was counted in the census. Bezalel, Oholiab, and their coworkers made the Kohen|priests’ vestments, the ephod, the breastpiece, the robe, the tunics of fine linen, and the frontlet inscribed “Holy to the Lord” — just as God had commanded Moses. Then they brought the Tabernacle and all its furnishings to Moses, and he blessed them. God told Moses to set up the Tabernacle, and Moses did just as God had commanded him, on the first day of the second year of the Exodus. When Moses finished the work, the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and God’s Presence filled the Tabernacle. When the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the Israelites would set out, and when the cloud did not lift, they would not set out. And God’s cloud rested over the Tabernacle by day, and fire would appear in it by night, throughout the Israelites’ journeys.
Hebrew and English text
Hear the parshah chanted
Commentary from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University (Conservative)
Commentary from the Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative)
Commentary by the Conservative Yeshiva
Commentary by the Union for Reform Judaism (Reform)
Commentaries from Project Genesis (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Chabad.org (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Aish HaTorah (Orthodox)
Commentaries from the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (Reconstructionist)
Commentaries from My Jewish Learning (trans-denominational)

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Shavuot
Holiday of: Judaism and Jews
Name: (Hebrew): Shavuot שבועות‎
Translation: "Feast of Weeks." It marks the conclusion of the Counting of the Omer and the day the Torah was given to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai. It is one of the shalosh regalim, the three Biblical pilgrimage festivals mandated by the Torah.
Begins: Sunday night at dusk, June 8, 2008. (6th day of Sivan)
Ends: Tuesday night June 10, 2008 (7th [in Israel 6th] day of Sivan.)
Occasion: One of the Three Pilgrim Festivals. Celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments by God to the Children of Israel at Mount Sinai, 49 days (7 weeks) after the Exodus from ancient Egypt. Commemorates the fruit harvesting in the Land of Israel. Culmination of the 49 days of Counting of the Omer. Shavuot has many aspects and as a consequence is called by several names. In the Torah it is called Feast of Weeks (Hebrew: חג השבועות, Hag ha-Shavuot, Exodus 34:22, Deuteronomy 16:10); Festival of Reaping (Hebrew: חג הקציר, Hag ha-Katsir, Exodus 23:16), and Day of the First Fruits (Hebrew יום הבכורים, Yom ha-Bikkurim, Numbers 28:26). The Mishnah and Talmud refer to Shavuot as Atzeret (Hebrew: עצרת, a solemn assembly), as it provides closure for the festival activities during and following the holiday of Passover. Since Shavuot occurs 50 days after Passover, some gave it the name Pentecost (πεντηκόστη, "fiftieth day").
Mitzvot and Halachot ("commandments and laws"): Festive meals. All-night Torah study. Recital of Akdamut liturgical poem in Ashkenazic synagogues. Reading of the Book of Ruth. Eating of dairy foods. Decoration of homes and synagogues with greenery.
Related to: Passover, Counting of the Omer, and as one of the Three Pilgrim Festivals.
Recorded in: Torah Talmud Shulkhan Arukh, Rabbinic literature, Mahzor, Siddur.

Important Passover observances

Chametz

Chametz (or Chometz) is the Hebrew term for "leavened bread". The word is used generally in regard to the Jewish holiday of Passover. In Jewish law, the Torah prohibits one from owning, eating or benefiting from any chametz during Passover. The laws of Passover are mentioned in several places; for example the prohibition against eating chametz is found in Exodus 13:3. The Torah's punishment for eating chametz on Passover is karet ("spiritual excision"). Generally speaking, there are two requirements for something to be considered chametz: (1) It needs to be of one of the five primary grains. (2) It needs to have fermented in contact with water for eighteen minutes.

Fast of the Firstborn

Fast of the Firstborn (Ta'anit B'khorot or Ta'anit B'khorim) is a unique fast day in Judaism which usually falls on the day before Passover (i.e. the fourteenth day of Nisan, a month in the Jewish calendar. Passover always begins on the fifteenth of the month). Usually, the fast is broken at a siyum celebration (typically made at the conclusion of the morning services), which, according to prevailing custom, creates an atmosphere of rejoicing that overrides the requirement to continue the fast. See: breaking the fast.

Passover Seder

The Passover Seder ("order" or "arrangement") is a Jewish ritual feast held on the first night of the Jewish holiday of Passover (the 15th day of Hebrew month of Nisan). For people living outside of Israel(even if they are spending the holiday in Israel), the Seder is held twice, on the first and second nights of Passover (the 15th and 16th days of Nisan). Families gather around the table on the night of Passover to read the Haggadah, the story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt. Seder customs include drinking of four cups of wine, eating matza and partaking of symbolic foods placed on the Passover Seder Plate. The Seder is a family ritual, although communal Seders are also organized by synagogues, schools and community centers. These Seders are usually open to the general public. With the Haggadah serving as a guide, the Seder is performed in much the same way all over the world.

Haggadah of Pesach

The Haggadah of Pesach contains the order of the Passover Seder. Haggadah, meaning "telling," is a fulfillment of the scriptural commandment to each Jew to "tell your son" about the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt, as described in the Book of Exodus in the Torah. According to Jewish tradition the Haggadah was compiled during the Mishnaic and Talmudic periods, but the exact time is not known.

Passover Seder Plate

The Passover Seder Plate (or ke'ara) is a special plate containing symbolic foods used by Jews during the Passover Seder. Each of the six items arranged on the plate has special significance to the retelling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt, which is the focus of this ritual meal. The seventh symbolic item used during the meal — a stack of three matzos — is placed on its own plate on the Seder table. The six traditional items on the Seder Plate are: (1) and (2) Maror and chazeret — Bitter herbs, symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery which the Jews endured in Egypt. (3) Charoset — A sweet, brown, pebbly mixture, representing the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt. (4) Karpas — A vegetable other than bitter herbs, which is dipped into salt water at the beginning of the Seder. Parsley, celery or boiled potato is usually used. The dipping of a simple vegetable into salt water (which represents tears) mirrors the pain felt by the Jewish slaves in Egypt, who could only eat simple foods. (5) Z'roa — A roasted lamb or goat shankbone, chicken wing, or chicken neck; symbolizing the korban Pesach (Pesach sacrifice), which was a lamb that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, then roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. (6) Beitzah — A roasted egg, symbolizing the korban chagigah ("festival sacrifice") that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem and roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night.

Ma Nishtana

Ma Nishtana are the four questions sung during the Passover seder. Called "Ma Nishtanah" in Hebrew, meaning "Why is it different?", is taken from the first line of the song. In English, it is referred to as, "The Four Questions." Traditionally, the Four Questions are asked by the youngest child at the table who is able. The questions are asked as part of the Haggadah of Pesach. The "4 questions" were formed to encourage the children to ask questions. Many other customs were also set for this reason, child participation is considered a very important aspect of the seder.

Chol Hamoed

Chol HaMoed, (Hebrew phrase which means "weekdays [of] the festival"), refers to the intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot. During Chol HaMoed the usual restrictions that apply to the Biblical Jewish holidays are relaxed, but not entirely eliminated.(Jews are encouraged not to work during this time, according to tradition money earned during Chol Hamoed will "see no blessing)[1] Hallel and Mussaf prayers must be said on these days, as on Yom Tov, although on Chol Hamoed of Passover, an abridged form of Hallel is recited. The tachanun prayer is also omitted. Passover is a seven-day festival (eight in the Diaspora), of which days second though sixth - third though sixth in the Diaspora - are Chol HaMoed. Sukkot is a seven-day festival, of which days second though seventh (third through seventh in the Diaspora) are Chol HaMoed.

Counting of the Omer

Counting of the Omer (or Sefirat Ha'omer) is a verbal counting of each of the forty-nine days between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot. This mitzvah derives from the Torah commandment to count forty-nine days beginning from the day on which the Omer, a sacrifice containing an omer-measure of barley, was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, up until the day before an offering of wheat was brought to the Temple on Shavuot. The Counting of the Omer begins on the second day of Passover and ends the day before the holiday of Shavuot. The idea of counting each day represents spiritual preparation and anticipation for the giving of the Torah, which was given by God on Mount Sinai on the fiftieth day, Shavuot.

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More about Judaism...

Judiasm is a place where jewish people only have and worsip one god and they write prayers and climb this wall and find some where to put it and then they wait and see if there prayers fo the god will be sent to them


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