History. Judaism's history dates back to Abraham, and then even further to the time of creation. Abraham is known as the father of the Jewish faith, and his descendants, known as the Hebrew people, moved to Egypt and later became slaves. Moses delivered the Hebrews from their slavery and received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. This was a key event in Jewish history, but Jewish law includes many more commandments than these ten. The Jewish people have been persecuted and exiled throughout history, including six million Jews killed by German Nazis in World War II.

Practices and Beliefs. Jewish beliefs and practices have changed over time, but the central belief of Judaism is faith in God, the creator, and in the need to live a holy life. The law given to the Jewish people by God, if obeyed, would enable them to live a holy life, which in turn would create a life of peace. The law was provided by God, the Torah, tradition, and interpretations of the Torah.

Today the Jewish faith is practiced in homes and synagogues or assemblies, and contains a variety of sects including Conservative, Hasidism, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and Reform. Jews believe that God selected them as his chosen people, and that he revealed his words to them in the Torah, the first five books in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. The Tanakh is made of three groups: the Torah, Nevi'im and the Ketuvim.

Jewish Calendar. The Jewish calendar is lunisolar, that is, it follows the course of the moon, but is corrected from time to time by the addition of an extra month so as to synchronise with the solar year. There are 12 months in the calendar and 13 in leap years.
The Jewish calendar is primarily lunar, with each month beginning on the new moon. Holidays are celebrated on the same day of the Jewish calendar every year, but the Jewish year is not the same length as a solar year on the Gregorian calendar used by most of the western world, so the date shifts on the Gregorian calendar.

In order to learn more about the Jewish calendar, go to http://www.jewfaq.org/calendar.htm

Holidays. All Jewish holidays begin the evening before the date specified. This is because a Jewish "day" begins and ends at sunset, rather than at midnight.Some of the major Jewish holidays include:
Shabbat, the Sabbath, is from Friday evening to Saturday evening. It begins with the lighting of candles in the home by the woman and she prays for her family and herself. The candles must be lit prior to sunset as no fire should be started during the Sabbath. Synagogue services may be in the evening or in the morning.

Rosh Hashanah: The Jewish New Year; start of the Ten Days of Penitence.

Yom Kippur:
Day of Atonement; a very solemn day of the year, devoted to fasting, prayer, and repentance.

Sukkot: First two days of Tabernacles; commorating the dwelling of the Israelites in booths in the wilderness.

Shemini Atzeret: Eighth Day of Assembly and
Simchat Torah: Rejoicing of the Law.

Hanukkah: Feast of Lights; victory of the Maccabees and rededication of the Temple.

Purim: Celebrates defeat of plot to destroy the Jews of Persia.

Pesach- Passover: deliverance of the Jewish people from Egypt. The Seder service on the first two evenings recounts the story of the Exodus. The last two days of Pesach are also observed as full holy days.

Shavuot: Feast of Weeks; marks the giving of the Law (Torah) at Mt. Sinai.

Other Holidays include:
Tisha B'Av
The Month of Tishri
Days of Awe
Tu B'Shevat
The Counting of the Omer

You can read more about these holidays at http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday0.htm

Other sites concerning Judaism include:

Cyber Home of Torah -- http://www.ou.org
Jewish Bulletin of Northern California Online (Jewish.com) --http://Jewish.com
Reform Judaism -- http://shamash.org/reform
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