JUDAISM There are approximately 13 Million people that follow Judaism today. Judaism is the oldest major religion and the first religion to teach the belief in one god. Unlike many other religions there is only one kind of people who follow it-Jews. Christianity and Islam developed from Judaism The Jewish holy book is the Torah. It is also what the Christians call the old testament. The persecution of the Jews in the 1930's was horrible and will be remembered forever.

After being crushed in the economic disaster in the Great Depression and being totally defeated in WWI, the time was perfect for Hitler to take anti-Semitism, or hatred for Jews-to a whole different level. Jews all over became victims of Hitler's awful laws such as those in Poland, Europe, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Germany. It was an awful time for the Jewish people and in camps all over Germany and Poland Jews were being murdered by starvation, disease, beating, mutilation, infection, gassing, and burning. Six million Jews, or about one-third of the entire Jewish population of the world was completely wiped out. Only fifty thousand Jews remained after the war. The faith of the Jewish people was tested greatly during the Holocaust.

Judaism was a parent of Christianity, and we probably know more about it than any other religion, excluding our own, right off the top of our heads. The ancestors of the Jews, called the Israelites, established a kingdom in Canaan-the land of Milk and Honey. The Israelites first began to see themselves in a special relationship with their God at about 1000 B.C.E. God had selected them to be a Chosen People. God had offered the Chosen People a covenant, or special agreement. In this covenant, the Israelites promised to worship only God, and in return God promised them preservation throughout history and the land of Canaan.

Canaan was later called Judah, Israel, and Palestine. The Jewish year is filled with yearly festivals. They are all based on the Jewish luna l calendar. Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish new year, which is celebrated in October, opens ten Days of Awe.

There is a celebration at the beginning and end of the two days. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. It is considered the most holy day of the year and is the closest to repentance. Five days after Yom Kippur, the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkoth, is celebrated. This is a week long feast in the fall celebrating God's presence when the Israelites were in the desert. The Rejoicing of the Torah closes the Sukkoth.

Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights and is celebrated in December. It commemorates the restoration of the Temple after it was destroyed by the Syrians. Pur in celebrates Esther's success to find a plot to massacre all Jews in the Persian Empire. One of the most important spring holy days is Pesach, or the Passover. Fifty days after the Seder, the feast of the Pentecost which remembers the giving of the Law of Moses fifty days after the Passover. There are three branches of Judaism.

Orthodox Judaism is the oldest and largest of the three branches. It has the full tradition of Judaism. It calls itself the Torah-True Judaism because of its strict adherence to the law of Moses. This stance seems to influence and shape tis approach to theology. The second branch of Judaism is Reform. The Reform branch is extremely liberal and call their houses of worship temples and have begun to ordain female rabbis.

They believe that the Mosaic law should not be followed to closely. The reform Jews still only believe in one God. The last branch of Judaism is the conservative branch which lies in the middle of the Orthodox and the reform branches. They retain the essentials of Judaism and hold that personal conscience must be the final rule of life, and the always try to apply the Jewish tradition to modern day life.

There is also the Reconstructionist and Hasistic branches.