Judaism is among the world’s oldest religions, emerging in the Middle East more than 4,000 years ago. Like most world religions, it is not frozen in form but is constantly affected by the times in which its followers live.
This resource provides journalists with background information on Judaism and a brief guide to covering Jews in America. Additional international resources have been added to help users find sources about Judaism anywhere in the world.
Most Jewish prayers are recited at regular intervals or on specific occasions, but a few are said in circumstances that are anything but routine.
Most Jewish prayers are recited at specific and regularly recurring times. Think of the blessings said upon waking in the morning, or the specific holiday liturgies, or the blessings recited before and after food and drink.
But some are recited on rarer occasions, or upon seeing or hearing something that isn’t routine. Below are eight of these prayers and blessings you might not have encountered before.
The smallest and youngest of the so-called "big four" American Jewish denominations.
Reconstructionist Judaism is a politically and religiously progressive Jewish movement that is the smallest and youngest of the so-called “big four” American Jewish denominations. It encompasses roughly 100 synagogues in the United States and a handful overseas and is the only one of the major movements that was established in the United States.
The word "kosher" literally means "fit" or "appropriate."
Ask an average person to describe kosher food and they might say it is food “blessed by a rabbi.” The word “kosher,” however, is Hebrew for “fit” or “appropriate” and describes the food that is suitable for a Jew to eat.
Image from BroadwayBasketeers.com
BY: CHRIS HARRISON for ReformJudaism.org
Although we associate prayer with liturgy that our rabbis and sages developed over the centuries, the act of unscripted prayer is equally important and authentic to the Jewish experience.
Hitbodedut (self-isolation), a style of prayer first popularized by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, is the act of open, spontaneous, and direct communication with God, and is accessible to all, regardless of how deeply one is engaged in Judaism.
And what does chosenness mean anyway?
The idea that the Jews are the “chosen people” and have a special relationship with God is ubiquitous in Jewish sources. However, the nature of this relationship is not without complication and ambiguity.
On Simchat Torah we rejoice with the Torah. We celebrate the joy of being a Jew—the joy of a life defined by and permeated with the divine wisdom and will communicated to us at Mount Sinai.
But where is the Torah?
Where is the all-embracing wisdom of the Five Books of Moses, the inspiration of the Prophets, the music of the Psalms? Where is the brilliance of the Talmud, the guidance of the Shulchan Aruch, the mystique of the Kabbalistic writings?
By Jeffrey F. Taffet for Tablet Magazine
How a liberal mayor learned to embrace Jews’ international and cultural concerns to court their vote, and changed New York City politics
On the eve of the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot, with the 2017 New York City mayoral contest already in full swing, it is instructive to reflect on the impact that a similar coincidence had on a mayor’s race nearly 50 years ago, and on the nature and influence of the solidly Democratic yet independent-minded Jewish political base that proved decisive in that election. In 1969, New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay needed Jewish voters to win his reelection bid. But in the months before the election, survey and anecdotal evidence suggested that Jewish support at the polls would not be forthcoming. Many Jews had come to believe that Lindsay had not been effective and, more importantly, that he had little interest in supporting their particular interests.