Judaism

Zdobienia ścian w synagodze

Judaism is a monotheistic religion of the Jews. It is based on the belief of the mission of the Jews, by virtue of the covenant which God made with them, as the chosen people. The sign of it was supposed to be the circumcision of Isaac, son of Abraham. To this day, it remains an injunction for male followers. The basis of religion is God’s written law -the Decalogue. It was given to the Jews, through Moses, on Mount Sinai. It is called the Torah or Pentateuch of Moses. The other Holy Book of Judaism is Talmud - oral law, containing the Rabbinic interpretation of the Torah. Both texts are the essence of religion and identity. The holy place of Judaism was the Temple of Jerusalem. Built by King Solomon in the 10th century BC, it was destroyed in the 6th century BC by the Babylonians, who took the nation into captivity (so-called Babylonian exile). After the fall of Babylon, the Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the Temple (so-called the second Temple). It survived until the invasion of the Romans in 70. Only a fragment of the wall of the temple buildings (the Wailing Wall) survived and now is a place of worship. The destruction of the second temple resulted in the dispersion of the Jews, so-called diaspora. Judaism is not uniform, many currents have developed within. Basic ones are: Orthodox Judaism, conservative Judaism and reform Judaism. To Poland, the Jews arrived in the 12th-13th century, mainly from the German areas. They found favourable conditions for development and security, provided to them by privileges. Over the centuries, they have become the largest group, apart from the Christians, in the Kingdom of Poland, 1/3 of all the European Jews lived there. In the territory of Poland and the present-day Ukraine, Hasidism was born, a religious movement based on the mystical devotion. It was headed by the Tzadiks. The Hasides lived in small towns, where ohels – graves of the Tzadiks have been maintained until today (e.g. Leżajsk, Bobowa). The Hasides from all over the world go on pilgrimages there. During World War II, the majority of the Jewish community was exterminated. According to various estimates, from 10 thousand to 100 thousand followers of Judaism live currently in Poland. They are gathered in large cities, inter alia, Warsaw, Krakow, Łódź. The rhythm of the life of the Jews is designated by the ritual calendar. The festivals are divided into two categories: commanded by the Torah and established to commemorate the events of the nation’s history. The first covers the pilgrimage festivals: Passover (remembrance of the liberation from slavery in Egypt and the birth of the nation as a free nation), Shavuot (festival of giving the Torah), Sukkot (associated with 40 years of travel to the Promised Land); weekly Sabbath (remembrance of God’s rest after the creation of the world) and festivals: Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (the day of atonement). The second category covers Hanukkah, (festival of the miracle of the oil multiplication in the temple after an uprising of the Maccabees) and Purim (festival of the fate associated with saving the Jewish nation in Persian Susa, also known as the Jewish carnival). The main event for Jewish community in Małopolska region is the Festival of Jewish Culture. It takes place in the end of June in Kazimierz, former Jewish district of Kraków.The Jewish Center in Oświęcim carries on the educational project "Oszpicin”.  In the  neighbouring Chrzanów the Days of Jewish Culture are organized every year in February In Eastern Małopolska (Tarnów, Dąbrowa Tarnowska, Bobowa)every year in June "Galicjaner Sztetl" is organized. This is the Commemoration Day of Galician Jews

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