Judaica (clockwise from top): Shabbat candlesticks, handwashing cup, Chumash and Tanakh, Torah pointer, shofar and etrog box

Judaism (originally from Hebrew יהודה, Yehudah, "Judah"; via Latin and Greek) is an ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel. It encompasses a wide body of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. The Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth largest religion in the world.

Within Judaism there are a variety of movements, most of which emerged from Rabbinic Judaism, which holds that God revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of both the Written and Oral Torah. Historically, all or part of this assertion was challenged by various groups such as the Sadducees and Hellenistic Judaism during the Second Temple period; the Karaites and Sabbateans during the early and later medieval period; and among segments of the modern non-Orthodox denominations. Modern branches of Judaism such as Humanistic Judaism may be nontheistic. Today, the largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism (Haredi Judaism and Modern Orthodox Judaism), Conservative Judaism, and Reform Judaism. Major sources of difference between these groups are their approaches to Jewish law, the authority of the Rabbinic tradition, and the significance of the State of Israel. Orthodox Judaism maintains that the Torah and Jewish law are divine in origin, eternal and unalterable, and that they should be strictly followed. Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal, with Conservative Judaism generally promoting a more traditionalist interpretation of Judaism's requirements than Reform Judaism. A typical Reform position is that Jewish law should be viewed as a set of general guidelines rather than as a set of restrictions and obligations whose observance is required of all Jews. Historically, special courts enforced Jewish law; today, these courts still exist but the practice of Judaism is mostly voluntary. Authority on theological and legal matters is not vested in any one person or organization, but in the sacred texts and the rabbis and scholars who interpret them.

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A Kohen (plural: Kohanim) is a direct patrilineal descendant of Aaron, the brother of Moses. In the times of the Temple, Kohanim performed nearly all of the services there, where they were divided into twenty-four family groups, and led by the Kohen Gadol. They also recite the Priestly Blessing to the congregation in synagogues. Kohanim receive twenty-four gifts, only a few of which apply today. They are given precedence in many matters, including the reading of the Torah. Kohanim are also subject to a few prohibitions, including marrying a divorcee and entering a cemetery. (Read more...)

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Temple Sinai is a Reform Jewish congregation located at 2808 Summit Street in Oakland, California. Founded in 1875, it is the oldest Jewish congregation in the East Bay. Its early members included Gertrude Stein and Judah Leon Magnes, who studied at Temple Sinai's Sabbath school, and Ray Frank, who taught them. Originally traditional, under the leadership of Rabbi Marcus Friedlander (1893–1915) Temple Sinai reformed its beliefs and practices. By 1914, it had become a Classical Reform congregation. That year the current sanctuary was built, a Beaux-Arts structure designed by G. Albert Lansburgh which is the oldest synagogue in Oakland. The congregation weathered four major financial crises by 1934. It has since been led by just three rabbis, William Stern (1934–1965), Samuel Broude (1966–1989), and Steven Chester (1989–present). In 2006 Temple Sinai embarked on a $15 million capital campaign to construct an entirely new synagogue campus adjacent to its current sanctuary. Groundbreaking took place in October 2007, and by late 2009 the congregation had raised almost $12 million towards the construction. As of 2010, the Temple Sinai had nearly 1,000 member families. The rabbis were Steven Chester, Jacqueline Mates-Muchin, and Andrea Berlin, and the hazzan was Ilene Keys. (Read more...)

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A traditional Tallit draped over several Hebrew texts.

Credit: Mnavon(talk)

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Weekly Torah Portion

Terumah (תרומה)
Exodus 25:1–27:19
The Weekly Torah portion in synagogues on Shabbat, Saturday, 4 Adar, 5780—February 29, 2020
"Let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them." (Exodus 25:8.)
the Ark of the Covenant
God instructed Moses to tell all Israelites whose heart so moved them to bring gifts of gold, silver, copper, colored yarns, fine linen, goats’ hair, tanned ram skins, acacia wood, oil, spices, lapis lazuli, and other fine stones to make a sanctuary — the Tabernacle — and its furnishings, so that God could dwell among them. God instructed them to make the Ark of the Covenant of acacia wood overlaid with gold in which to deposit the tablets setting forth God’s commandments. God told them to make two cherubim of gold to place on the ark’s cover or mercy seat. God promised to impart commandments to Moses from between the two cherubim above the cover of the Ark. God instructed them to make a table of acacia wood overlaid with gold, on which to set the bread of display or shewbread.
Romans take the menorah from the Temple in Jerusalem (sculpture from the Arch of Titus)

God instructed them to make a six-branched, seven-lamped lampstand — menorah — of pure gold. God instructed them to make the Tabernacle of ten strips of fine twisted linen, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, with a design of cherubim worked into them. God instructed them to make 11 cloths of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle, and coverings of tanned ram skins and tachash skins. God instructed them to make planks of acacia wood for the Tabernacle. God instructed them to make a curtain of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen, with a design of cherubim, to serve as a partition obscuring the Holy of Holies. God instructed them to place the Ark, the table, and the lampstand in the Tabernacle. God instructed them to make a screen for the entrance of the Tent, of colored yarns, and fine twisted linen, done in embroidery and supported by five posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold. God instructed them to make the altar of acacia wood overlaid with copper. And God instructed them to make the enclosure of the Tabernacle from fine twisted linen.

Hebrew and English text
Hear the parshah chanted
Commentary from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University (Conservative)
Commentary from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Conservative)
Commentary by the Union for Reform Judaism (Reform)
Commentaries from Project Genesis (Orthodox)
Commentaries from (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Aish HaTorah (Orthodox)
Commentaries from the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (Reconstructionist)
Commentaries from My Jewish Learning (trans-denominational)


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