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Judaism (Hebrew: יהדות‎, Yahadut; originally from Hebrew יהודה, Yehudah, "Judah", via Greek Ἰουδαϊσμός Ioudaismos) is an ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel. It encompasses a wide body of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. The Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth largest religion in the world.

Within Judaism there are a variety of religious movements, most of which emerged from Rabbinic Judaism, which holds that God revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of both the Written and Oral Torah. Historically, all or part of this assertion was challenged by various groups such as the Sadducees and Hellenistic Judaism during the Second Temple period; the Karaites during the early and later medieval period; and among segments of the modern non-Orthodox denominations. Some modern branches of Judaism such as Humanistic Judaism may be considered secular or nontheistic. Today, the largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism (Haredi Judaism and Modern Orthodox Judaism), Conservative Judaism, and Reform Judaism. Major sources of difference between these groups are their approaches to Jewish law, the authority of the Rabbinic tradition, and the significance of the State of Israel. Orthodox Judaism maintains that the Torah and Jewish law are divine in origin, eternal and unalterable, and that they should be strictly followed. Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal, with Conservative Judaism generally promoting a more traditionalist interpretation of Judaism's requirements than Reform Judaism. A typical Reform position is that Jewish law should be viewed as a set of general guidelines rather than as a set of restrictions and obligations whose observance is required of all Jews. Historically, special courts enforced Jewish law; today, these courts still exist but the practice of Judaism is mostly voluntary. Authority on theological and legal matters is not vested in any one person or organization, but in the sacred texts and the rabbis and scholars who interpret them. (Full article...)

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Temple Israel Memphis Everyday Entrance

Temple Israel is a Reform Jewish congregation in Memphis, Tennessee. It is the only Reform synagogue in Memphis, the oldest and largest Jewish congregation in Tennessee, and one of the largest Reform congregations in the United States. It was founded in 1853 by mostly German Jews as Congregation B'nai Israel. Led initially by cantors, in 1858 it hired its first rabbi, Jacob Peres, and leased its first building, which it renovated and eventually purchased. The synagogue was one of the founding members of the Union for Reform Judaism. It experienced difficulty during the Great Depression—membership dropped, the congregational school was closed, and staff had their salaries reduced—but conditions had improved by the late 1930s. In 1943 the synagogue changed its name to Temple Israel, and by the late 1940s membership had almost doubled from its low point in the 1930s. Rabbi Jimmy Wax became known for his activism during the Civil Rights era. In 1976 the congregation constructed its current building, closer to where most members lived. Wax retired in 1978, and was succeeded by Harry Danziger, who brought traditional practices back to the congregation. He retired in 2000, and was succeeded by Micah Greenstein. As of 2010, Temple Israel has almost 1,600 member families. Greenstein is the senior rabbi, and the cantor is John Kaplan. (Read more...)

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Stanton Street Synagogue

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Bethlehem is a Palestinian city located in the West Bank, neighboring Jerusalem, with a population of 25,000 people. The capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of Palestinian Authority, its economy is primarily tourist-driven.

Bethlehem, which may be the same as the Biblical Ephrath, is first mentioned in the Tanakh as the place where the matriarch Rachel died, and her tomb stands at the entrance to Bethlehem. The valley to the east is where Ruth gleaned the fields and returned to town with Naomi. It was the home of Jesse, father of King David of Israel, and the site of David's anointment by the prophet Samuel. It was from the well of Bethlehem that they brought him water when he was hiding in the cave of Adullam.

Between 132 and 135 the city was reoccupied by the Romans after its capture during the Bar Kokhba revolt. Its Jewish residents were expelled by Hadrian. Bethlehem was sacked by the Samaritans in 529, but rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. It was conquered by the Arab Caliphate of 'Umar ibn al-Khattāb in 637. In 1099, Crusaders captured Bethlehem and replaced its Greek Orthodox clergy with a Latin one. This was expelled after the city was captured by Saladin. With the coming of the Mamluks in 1250, the city's walls were demolished, and were subsequently rebuilt during the rule of the Ottoman Empire. The British wrested control of the city from the Ottomans during World War I and it was to be included in an international zone under the 1947 Partition Plan. The city was annexed by Jordan in 1948, and occupied by Israel in 1967. Since 1995, Bethlehem has been governed by the Palestinian National Authority. (Read more...)

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A gragger, a noisemaker used on Purim
to drown out the sound of Haman's name

Credit: Yoninah (talk)

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Weekly Torah Portion

Tetzaveh (תצווה)
Exodus 27:20–30:10
The Weekly Torah portion in synagogues on Shabbat, Saturday, 22 Adar, 5781—March 6, 2021
"I will sanctify the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and I will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve Me as priests." (Exodus 29:44.)
The High Priest wearing his breastplate
God instructed the Israelites to bring Moses clear olive oil, so that Aaron and his descendants as High Priest could kindle lamps regularly in the Tabernacle. God instructed Moses to make sacral vestments for Aaron: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a gold frontlet inscribed “Holy to the Lord,” a fringed tunic, a headdress, a sash, and linen breeches. God instructed Moses to place Urim and Thummim inside the breastpiece of decision.
a pomegranate
God instructed Moses to place pomegranates and gold bells around the robe’s hem, to make a sound when the High Priest entered and exited the sanctuary, so that he not die. God laid out a ordination ceremony for priests involving the sacrifice of a young bull, two rams, unleavened bread, unleavened cakes with oil mixed in, and unleavened wafers spread with oil. God instructed Moses to lead the bull to the front of the Tabernacle, let Aaron and his sons lay their hands upon the bull’s head, slaughter the bull at the entrance of the Tent, and put some of the bull’s blood on the horns of the altar. God instructed Moses to take one of the rams, let Aaron and his sons lay their hands upon the ram’s head, slaughter the ram, and put some of its blood and put on the ridge of Aaron’s right ear and on the ridges of his sons’ right ears, and on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. God promised to meet and speak with Moses and the Israelites there, to abide among the Israelites, and be their God. God instructed Moses to make an incense altar of acacia wood overlaid with gold — sometimes called the Golden Altar.
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 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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