The Jewish Faith

Basic Summary of Beliefs and practices

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The three basic elements of the Jewish faith are: one eternal God, the brotherhood of man and the importance of justice.

People of the Jewish faith live their lives according to the Ten Commandments and the code of Jewish Law which is derived from the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament of the Bible). The Sabbath, which begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday, is a holy day observed by lighting candles, prayers and songs, and a special family meal. 

The most familiar Jewish symbols are the Menorah, a 7-branched candlestick, and the Star of David.

The festival of Passover  commemorates the exodus of the Jews, led by   Moses, from slavery in Egypt. Symbolic foods are eaten and drunk, such as “matza” (unleavened bread, resembling crackers) and sweet wine.

Rosh Hashanah, in September or October, marks the start of the Jewish year. Apples dipped in honey are eaten in the hope of a sweet year.

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year. The day is spent fasting and praying for forgiveness of sins.

Hanukka   is an  8-day winter festival; candles are lit, special foods such as potato fritters and doughnuts, are eaten and gifts are exchanged.

Purim is a spring festival that celebrates the defeat of Haman, a Persian leader, whose plan was to destroy all the Jews in his country.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a ceremony to mark when boys reach the age of 13 and are considered mature enough to play a full part in religious services. Girls similarly become Bat Mitzvah at 12.

Food   Orthodox Jews follow strict rules. They do not eat pork or shellfish, which are regarded as unclean. All other meat must be “kosher”, meaning the animals must be slaughtered in a special way.

Being Jewish



  • Mr Black with prayer shawl
  • Pupil wearing prayer shawl, with Torah scroll
  • Pupils in Belfast Synagogue
  • Star of David image
  • The Torah showing English and Hebrew text