This video is part of the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Religious Service Program Guide, and is a brief introduction to Judaism. it is not meant to be comprehensive, but to serve as an introduction to the basic tenets of the religion.

Judaism traces its beginning to Abraham who lived approximately 3800 years ago. Abraham broke with idolatry and turned to the service of the one and only God whom he recognized as the Creator of heaven and earth. As the creator, the God of Abraham was independent of nature and of any geographical limitations.

Abraham’s briefs were carried on after him by his son Isaac and after Isaac by his son Jacob or Israel. Jacob had twelve sons who became the progenitors of the Twelve Tribes, who became enslaved in Egypt. It was at this time in the history of the Jewish people that there arose for them a national liberator in the person of Moses.

In the third month of their departure from the sand of Egypt the Jewish nation of three million people arrived at Sinai. This burning desert with it cliffs and mountains was the scene of the memorable covenant which God made with the Jewish people. The Sinaitic revelation became the foundation and fount of all Jewish religious knowledge and the guarantee of the truth of the Jewish faith. The Sinaitic revelation to three million people as mentioned in the Book of Exodus left no room for doubt as to either the Patriarchs’ claims or the divine character of Moses’ mission. Fundamental to the revelation was the exhortation to observe the 613 Biblical commandments which is the essence of the Jewish faith and the Torah.

It is important to understand that Judaism cannot be reduced to its biblical period. In 70 CE the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem and the focus of Judaism shifted from the rites of the Temple to the study of Torah and its accompanying Oral Tradition. Torah study became a lifelong endeavor and Judaism acquired a distinctly intellectual dimension and character.

Visit the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Religious Service Program Guide online: jrsusa.org/rsg

Video produced by Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

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