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Religion: Judaism


Books In the Library


Explores the world of Judaism and covers its teachers, beliefs, traditions and festivals

I am Jewish

I am Jewish follows Daniel as he talks about his faith. He tells us about his: school, family, books, clothes, beliefs, worship and food.

Visiting a synagogue

Describes the synagogue as a place of learning, socialising and worship for Jews. Focuses on the Torah scrolls, and discusses their importance to the Jewish people.


Hanukkah is a Jewish festival of lights that celebrates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Hanukkah is observed over eight days by lighting a candle on the Menorah, a special candelabrum, once each day.

Celebrate Passover

Celebrate Passover continues the spectacular 'Holidays Around the World' series by looking at Passover celebrations all over the world.  The book focuses on historical and cultural aspects of the holiday: traditions, food, and types of celebration.

What are Judaism's holy books?

A man reading the Torah using a yad or
a page pointer
Image source: Britannica School

The sacred book of Judaism is the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh. Christians often refer to it as the Old Testament. Particularly important to Judaism are the first five books:

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy

Together they are known as the Torah or the Five Books of Moses. These writings explain and interpret God’s laws. Those laws include the Ten Commandments. 

What is Kosher food?

Challah bread - traditional Jewish yeasted bread

Keeping the laws of kashrut (kosher) is one of the most important things a Jewish person can do. The Hebrew word ‘kasher’  means ‘fit or proper’. It means that a food or drink is permitted and acceptable to be eaten or drunk according to Jewish law.

Kosher certification symbols can be found on food packaging or food establishments
Image source:

All processed foods and eating establishments require certification by a reliable rabbi or kashrut supervision agency to be recognised as kosher.

What is Judaism?

The religion of the Jewish people is known as Judaism. Judaism has more than 14 million followers throughout the world. Many Jews live in Israel, an independent state at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. Israel was established in 1948 as a homeland for the Jewish people.

Jews believe that there is only one God. They believe they have a special agreement with God called a covenant. Jews promise to obey God’s laws to say thank you to him for looking after them. Maimonides, a famous Jewish teacher of the 12th century, listed thirteen of the main beliefs in Judaism, also known as the “13 Principles of Faith” :

  1. God is the Maker and the King of the world.
  2. There is only one God, and He is the only one who is and will ever be God.
  3. God has no body or physical form and nothing else is like Him.
  4. God is eternal – He has always existed and will live forever.
  5. Only God can answer people’s prayers and people must only pray to Him.
  6. The words of the Prophets are true.
  7. Moses was the greatest of the Prophets.
  8. God gave the whole Torah to Moses.
  9. God will not change the Torah and will not give another Torah.
  10. God knows the actions and thoughts of people.
  11. God rewards and punishes people for the things they do.
  12. The Messiah will come.
  13. God will make dead people live again when He chooses to.

Who is the founder of Judaism?

This painting shows Abraham during his journey to Canaan.
Image source: Britannica School

Jews believe a man called Abraham, who was a Hebrew, to be the first person to make a covenant with God. They also believe that God named Abraham's grandson Israel. After this, the Hebrews became known as the Israelites. Abraham is considered the father of the Jewish people and the Israelites are his descendants.

Moses Showing the Tables of the Law to the People (1659) by Rembrandt
Image source: Britannica School

Later, a man named Moses saved the Jewish people from persecution in Egypt when he led them to safety across the Red Sea. After this, the Jews lived in the desert where God gave Moses a set of rules which they should live by, including the Ten Commandments. Moses is the most important Jewish prophet.

Where do the Jews worship?

Jewish people gather at a synagogue in Jerusalem.
Image source: Britannica School

A synagogue is a place where Jews meet to worship and pray to God. The front of a synagogue faces towards Jerusalem in Israel. In the front is the holiest part of the synagogue, the Ark. This is a closet which has the Torah scrolls inside. On top of the Ark is light which is always lit, called the “Eternal Lamp”. It is a symbol which means that God is always there. Every synagogue has a raised platform called the “Bimah”. The person who reads the Torah scroll stands there when he reads.

Search Library Catalogue

Search the library catalogue for more books related to Judaism

Symbols of Judaism

Star of David
Image source:

The symbol or emblem of the Jewish people is the Magen David (Shield of David), also known as the Star of David.

Jewish Festivals

The most important custom during Hanukkah is the lighting of the menorah. 
Image source: Britannica School

There are two major holidays celebrated by Jews around the world:

Hanukkah (Festival of Lights)
Hanukkah is one of the most joyous of Jewish holidays. Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah to honor the Maccabees's victory over King Antiochus, who forbade Jews to practice their religion. The celebration lasts for eight nights and days each year around the same time as Christmas. For eight nights, candles are lit in a menorah, one for each night plus a helper candle called the shamash. During the lighting, people recite special blessings and prayers. Families play games, sing songs, and exchange gifts. 

Passover (Pesach)
The festival of Passover takes place for about one week in March or April. A special family meal called a seder is held. Before the meal, the story of Passover where Moses led the Jews to freedom from slavery in ancient Egypt, is told through the songs and prayer from a book of ritual called the HaggadahThe most important food of the holiday is matzo (also known as matzah), which is a unleavened flatbread made with only flour and water. It is eaten to represent the fact that the Jews did not have time to let the bread rise before their escape.

Click on the links below to find out more about festivals that Jews celebrate: