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Judaism (from the Greek Ioudaïsmos, derived from the Hebrew יהודה, Yehudah, "Judah") is the religion of the Jewish people, based on the principles and ethics embodied in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), as further explored and explained in the Talmud. Judaism is among the oldest religious traditions still practiced today and is considered one of the world's first monotheistic faiths. At the core of Judaism is the belief in a single, omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent God, who created the universe and continues to govern it. In 2007, the world Jewish population was estimated to be 13.2 million people—41 percent in Israel and the other 59 percent in the diaspora. The traditional criterion for membership in Judaism or the Jewish people has been being born to a Jewish mother or taking the path of conversion.

Jewish tradition maintains that the history of Judaism begins with the Covenant between God and Abraham (c. 1800 BCE), the patriarch and progenitor of the Jewish people. According to the traditional Jewish belief, God also created another covenant with the Israelites (the ancestors of the Jewish people), and revealed his laws and commandments (Mitzvot) to them on Mount Sinai in the form of the Written Torah. Traditional Judaism also maintains that an Oral Torah was revealed at the same time and, after being passed down verbally for generations, was later transcribed in the Talmud. Laws, traditions, and learned Rabbis who interpret these texts and their numerous commentaries comprise the modern authority on Jewish tradition. While each Jew's level of observance varies greatly, the traditional practice of Judaism revolves around the study and observance of God's Mitzvot.

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Jewish holidays include both Biblical and Rabbinic observances. Biblical days include the weekly Shabbat, considered the most important such day. There are the Three Pilgrimage Festivals of Passover, Shavuot, and Shemini Atzeret. The High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are times of repentance and prayer. Rosh Chodesh, the first day of each month, has some significance as well. Rabbinic enactments include Hanukkah and Purim, both celebrating religious and military victories. (Read more...)

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Jewish Orphanage of Berlin-Pankow

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Temple Sinai of Oakland

Temple Sinai is a Reform Jewish congregation located at 2808 Summit Street in Oakland, California. Founded in 1875, it is the oldest Jewish congregation in the East Bay. Its early members included Gertrude Stein and Judah Leon Magnes, who studied at Temple Sinai's Sabbath school, and Ray Frank, who taught them. Originally traditional, under the leadership of Rabbi Marcus Friedlander (1893–1915) Temple Sinai reformed its beliefs and practices. By 1914, it had become a Classical Reform congregation. That year the current sanctuary was built, a Beaux-Arts structure designed by G. Albert Lansburgh which is the oldest synagogue in Oakland. The congregation weathered four major financial crises by 1934. It has since been led by just three rabbis, William Stern (1934–1965), Samuel Broude (1966–1989), and Steven Chester (1989–present). In 2006 Temple Sinai embarked on a $15 million capital campaign to construct an entirely new synagogue campus adjacent to its current sanctuary. Groundbreaking took place in October 2007, and by late 2009 the congregation had raised almost $12 million towards the construction. As of 2010, the Temple Sinai had nearly 1,000 member families. The rabbis were Steven Chester, Jacqueline Mates-Muchin, and Andrea Berlin, and the hazzan was Ilene Keys. (Read more...)

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A Jewish elementary school in Bnei Brak

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Weekly Torah Portion

VayakhelPekudei (ויקהל-פקודי)
Exodus 35:1–40:38
The Weekly Torah portion in synagogues on Shabbat, Saturday, 27 Adar, 5777—March 25, 2017
"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 an 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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