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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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The History of the Jews in Puerto Rico began in the 15th century with the arrival of the anusim (conversos) who accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage. The Jews did not flourish in Puerto Rico because of the Spanish Inquisition, although many migrated to mountainous parts of the island and continued to self-identify as Jews. It would be hundreds of years before an open Jewish community would be established on the island. Very few American Jews settled in Puerto Rico after the island was ceded by Spain to the United States in 1898.

The first large group of Jews to settle in Puerto Rico were European refugees fleeing German-occupied Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. The second influx of Jews to the island came in the 1950s, when thousands of Cuban Jews fled after Fidel Castro came to power, the majority immigrating to Miami, Florida, with a sizable portion choosing to establish themselves on the neighboring island because of the cultural and historic ties between the two islands.

Puerto Rican Jews have made many contributions in multiple fields, including business and commerce, education, and entertainment. Puerto Rico has the largest and richest Jewish community in the Caribbean, with over 3,000 Jewish inhabitants. It is also the only Caribbean island in which all three major Jewish denominationsOrthodox, Conservative, and Reform—are represented. (Read more...)

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Some symbols of Rosh Hashanah

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Weekly Torah Portion

Nitzavim (ניצבים)
Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20
The Weekly Torah portion in synagogues on Shabbat, Saturday, 28 Elul, 5776—October 1, 2016
“For this commandment . . . is not in heaven, that you should say: ‘Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us . . . ?’” (Deuteronomy 30:11–12.)

Moses told the Israelites that all the people stood that day before God to enter into the covenant whereby God might establish Israel as God’s people and be their God, as God promised them and as God swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses made the covenant both with those who were standing there that day and with those who were not there that day. Moses reminded the Israelites that they had dwelt in the land of Egypt and had passed through various other nations and had seen the detestable idols of wood, stone, silver, and gold that those other nations kept. Moses speculated that perchance there were among the Israelites some whose hearts were even then turning away from God to go worship the gods of those nations, who might think themselves immune, thinking that they would be safe though they followed their own willful hearts to the ruin of all. But God would never forgive them; rather God’s anger would rage against them until every curse recorded in the Torah would come down upon them and God had blotted out their names from under heaven. And later generations and other nations would ask why God had done that to those people, and they would be told that it was because they forsook the covenant that God made with them and turned to the service of other gods. So God grew incensed at that land and brought upon it all the curses recorded in the Torah, uprooted them from their soil in anger, and cast them into another land, as would still be the case. Concealed acts concerned God; but with overt acts, it was for the Israelites ever to apply all the provisions of the Torah.

“For this commandment . . . is not in heaven, that you should say: ‘Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us . . . ?’” (Deuteronomy 30:11–12.)
After all these curses had befallen them, if they took them to heart in their exile, and they returned to God, and they heeded God’s commandments with all their hearts and souls, then God would restore their fortunes, take them back in love, and bring them together again from the ends of the world to the land that their fathers possessed, and God would make them more prosperous and numerous than their fathers. Then God would open their hearts to love God with all their hearts and souls, in order that they might live. God would then inflict all those curses on the enemies who persecuted the Israelites, and would bless the Israelites with abounding prosperity, fertility, and productivity. For God would again delight in their wellbeing, as God had in that of their fathers, since they would be heeding God and keeping the commandments once they had returned to God with all their hearts and souls.
“For this commandment . . . is not . . . beyond the sea, that you should say: ‘Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us . . . ?’” (Deut. 30:11–13.)
Moses said that surely, this Instruction which he enjoined upon them was not too baffling, beyond reach, in the heavens, or beyond the sea; rather it was very close to them, in their mouths and hearts. Moses said that he set before them the choice between life and prosperity on the one hand and death and adversity on the other. Moses commanded them to love God, to walk in God’s ways, and to keep God’s commandments, that they might thrive and increase, and that God might bless them in the land. But if their hearts turned away and they gave no heed, and were lured into the worship of other gods, Moses warned that they would certainly perish and not long endure in the land. Moses called heaven and earth to witness that he had put before the Israelites life and death, blessing and curse. He exhorted them to choose life by loving God, heeding the commandments, and holding fast to God, so that they might have life and long endure on the land that God swore to their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
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 of America (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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