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Judaism is a monotheistic, non-Trinitarian world religion that is comprised by those "who define themselves as Jews in positive relation to the traditions formulated by the rabbis of the Talmud,"[1]. The Talmudic tradition begins around AD 200, although the Palestinian Talmud is not completed until c. AD 450, and the Babllonian Talmud c. AD 550. By this definition, Judaism excludes the Hebrew religion of the Old Testament, as well as first-century sects such as the Sadducees, Samaritans, Essenes, and Jewish Christians. Judaism nonetheless sees itself as an heir to the religion of Abraham and the covenant made with Moses during the events of the Israelite journey to the Promised Land from Egypt.

After the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in AD 70, the Jewish inhabitants of Judea were scattered throughout the empire, setting up their homes in Europe and North Africa. It was the destruction and subsequent diaspora that gave rise to the reforms which established Rabbinical Judaism.

Jews have been persecuted for thousands of years, with the most notable persecutions being their expulsion from Spain in 1492 and the genocide waged by the Nazis, commonly referred to as the Holocaust (or the Shoah). The Holocaust took the lives of six million Jews in Europe, not without resistance from various Orthodox hierarchs, notably in Greece and Bulgaria.

Major Movements

Beginning in the nineteenth century, four major movements within Judaism came to be: Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, and Reconstructionist. The Reform movement began in Germany, and it "sought to regenerate public worship by enhancing its beauty and relevance, cutting obsolete material, introducing vernacular prayers, a weekly vernacular sermon, choral and organ music, and new ceremonies such as confirmation."[2]first lasting Reform temple was founded in 1818 in Hamburg, Germany. The Conservative movement is associated particularly with Zacharias Frankel (1801-75) in Germany and Solomon Schecter (1850-1915) in the United States. Orthodox Judaism refers not so much to a movement as "an umbrella term for all those forms of traditional Judaism which were left behind when first Reform, then Conservative Judaism, set up organizations ... in some way critical of traditional Judaism as commonly interpreted."[3] Reconstructionist Judaism is associated primarily with Mordecai Kaplan (1881-1983) and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (established in 1968). More radical than the Conservative and Reform, it calls "for a reappraisal of Judaism, including such fundamental concepts as God, Israel, and Torah, and institutions such as the Synagogue, in the light of contemporary thought and society."[4]


  • Communion in the Messiah: Studies in the Relationship Between Judaism and Christianity, Lev Gillet ISBN 978-1625645920
  • Jewish History: A Very Short Introduction, David N. Myers (Oxford, 2017)
  • Judaism: A Very Short Introduction, Norman Solomon (Oxford, 1996)

See also

External links

Judaism and Russian Church Life