Israel Yesterday and Today: A pilgrimage in word and image | Contents | Galilee | Jerusalem | West Bank | Desert | Sinai |
O that deliverance for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, Israel shall be glad. - Psalm 14:7

Today there are many streams of Judaism in the land of Israel.  The three major trends are: orthodox, conservative, and reform. The most religious or ultra-orthodox Jews are the Hasidim.  They are the most distinctive in dress with their black hats (on Shabbat often replaced by grand fur hats), long black coats, tieless white shirts, beards and cropped hair with payot (side curls).  Some orthodox Jews grow beards and payots but do not follow the strict dress code of the Hasidim.  The most common sign of a religious Jew is the yarmulka or kippa (skullcap).

In Judaism faith in God is central with observance of the commandments as the driving-force of daily life. The Torah, comprising the Five Books of Moses, contain 613 mitzvot (commandments), including directives for ritual observances and instructions concerning moral living.

For the religious Jew much of modern Jewish life revolves around the synagogue.  The Hebrew word for synagogue (beit knesset) means "house of assembly" and the Yiddish word (shul) means "school".  The aron hakodesh (Holy Ark) houses the Torah scrolls and determines the orientation of the synagogue. Synagogues normally face toward Jerusalem and within Jerusalem they face toward the Temple Mount.

The most important meal of the week in most Jewish homes is on Friday night at the start of Shabbat.  This holy day of rest begins when the sun sets. For the religious Jews is it a day of rejoicing and celebrating God's goodness in his creation and deliverance of his people. 

Hasidic Jews (in photo above) view a replica of the Menorah, a seven branched candelabrum which once stood  in the sanctuary of the Temple as described in Exodus 25:31-40

youth celebrating in Jerusalem during Passover
preparing for Shabbat at the Western Wall

boys at play in Jewish Quarter of Old City Jerusalem overlooking the Temple Mount

on duty in Jerusalem

Hasidim family at the Western Wall during Passover

See also | Western Wall | Jewish Quarter of Old City | Purim |


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(c) 2001 Don Schwager