Did you know that Judaism is one of the oldest major religions in the world? Today there are about 15 million Jews in the world. This was one of the first major religions to believe in one God.
Jewish people believe in the Torah. The Torah (also called the Jewish Bible or Hebrew Bible) is the first five books of the Old Testament. Jewish people study these books in order to serve God. They believe in one God and that everyone should be treated with respect.
One important person in the Jewish religion is called the rabbi. The rabbi is basically a teacher and spiritual leader. Rabbis give sermons in the synagogue and give advice to Jewish people. They know so much about halakhah (Jewish law) that they can answer questions and instruct other people.
Jews worship at home and in synagogues. At home, Jews say daily prayers, light the Sabbath candles, bless wine and bread at the Sabbath meal, and observe many other holidays. In the synagogue, Jews worship differently depending on what branch of Judaism they belong to. For example, there are some Orthodox and Conservative synagogues that have services every single day while other branches have services less often. During most worship services they read from the Torah and chant prayers from a book called the siddur.
One thing that's special about this religion is that Judaism is only believed by Jewish people. Some Jews think of their Jewishness in terms of culture. These people think about things like food and holiday customs. The Jewish High Holidays are Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur.
Rosh Ha-Shanah is the Jewish New Year. In Hebrew, Rosh Ha-Shanah means "head of the year" or "first of the year."
This celebration lasts for two days. The purpose of this holiday is to celebrate God's creation
and rule over earth.
People use this time to think about their deeds over the past year. People pray or worship in a synagogue.
During their worship services, they blow a ram's horn. A total number of 100 notes are blown per day. In the entire holiday, 200 notes are blown.
Many Jews believe that Yom Kippur is the most important holiday in the Jewish year. Yom Kippur means "Day of Atonement." On this day Jews do not go to work, they fast (do not eat food), and they express their regret for doing bad things during the past year. Jews worship in their synagogue on this day.