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Judaism

Introduction

Judaism (jōˈdəĭzˌəm, jōˈdē–) [key], the religious beliefs and practices and the way of life of the Jews. The term itself was first used by Hellenized Jews to describe their religious practice, but it is of predominantly modern usage; it is not used in the Bible or in Rabbinic literature and only rarely in the literature of the medieval period. The word Torah is employed when referring to the divinely revealed teachings of Jewish law and belief. Judaism is used more broadly, including also the totality of human interpretation and practice. Thus, one may speak of "secular Judaism," referring to an adherence to values expressed by Judaism but removed from any religious context. The most important holy days in Judaism are the weekly Sabbath, the major holidays of Rosh ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkoth (see Tabernacles, Feast of), Simhat Torah, Passover, and Shavuot, and the minor holidays of Hanukkah, Purim, and Tisha B'Av.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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