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Orthodox Judaism: Beliefs & Concept

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  • 0:01 What Is Orthodox Judaism?
  • 0:36 Orthodox Judaism Beliefs
  • 5:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Kinder
Explore the Orthodox Judaism religion. Learn basic Orthodox Judaism religious beliefs and customs. Explore several cultural practices rooted in Jewish spiritual texts.

What Is Orthodox Judaism?

Orthodox Jews make up roughly 10% of the larger Jewish community in America. Orthodox Jews tend to follow a stricter system of beliefs and customs than other Jewish sects. Within Orthodox Judaism, there is also variation in adherence to old traditions, with ultra-orthodox Jews being the most traditional to modern-day Orthodox Jews being more modernized and willing to interact with the secular society that surrounds them. This lesson describes the beliefs and practices of Orthodox Jews.

Orthodox Judaism Beliefs

The beliefs of Orthodox Jews are guided by the 13 principles of Judaism. These principles were derived by the Jewish scholar Rabbi Moses Maimonides. In order to live consistent with the Torah, the Jewish book of faith, one must follow these principles. The following are a summary of these important principles, as well as other practices of Orthodox Jews.

Orthodox Jews are monotheistic, meaning they worship one God, or Hashem. Orthodox Jews believe that they are Hashem's chosen people. Orthodox Jews celebrate many age-related events in a child's life, including brit millah, upsherin and bar mitzvah ceremonies. When a boy is eight days old he is circumcised during a brit millah ceremony. When he turns three, he participates in a upsherin ceremony. During upsherin his hair is cut and he wears a kippah, or special head covering, for the first time.

When a boy turns 13, he is also thrown a coming-of-age celebration called a bar mitzvah. During this ceremony, he will commit to Jewish law and will read from the Torah scroll, or sacred Jewish text.

Orthodox Jews celebrate many holidays throughout the year. Each holiday is considered a special family time. Holidays are celebrated by several traditions such as eating certain foods or reading specific scriptures. For example, on Yom Kippur, which means 'day of atonement,' Jews prayerfully atone for their sins against God. Yom Kippur involves fasting, not doing any traditional work, and attending synagogue.

Shabbat is a day of rest and spiritual renewal observed by Orthodox Jews. This day runs from Friday at sunset to Saturday evening. Shabbat celebrates the rest that occurred on the seventh day after Hashem created the world in the previous six days. The observance begins with the lighting of Shabbat candles and a blessing is read. Each candle represents the two parts of Shabbat. The first is to remember and reflect upon the creation of the Earth and the freedom of Israelites from Egypt. The second is to observe the Shabbat by not engaging in any activities that involve work; any activities that allow for creation or manipulation of one's surroundings or environment. For example, during shabbat, Orthodox Jews are not allowed to turn electricity on or off, travel, or drive a car. Also to be avoided are activities like conducting business, cooking or laundry. The purpose of avoiding these tasks is to remember and observe the seventh day of creation upon which God rested. Shabbat also includes family meals, leisure activities, Torah reading, and prayer.

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