Judaism 101: An Introduction

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Course Description

Welcome to our online introduction class on Judaism 101. In this course, students will experience the beginnings of Judaism and become familiar with some of the basic beliefs and tenants of one of the largest religions in the world. You'll be introduced to the Synagogue and life customs and traditions such as bris and bar mitzvah. Jewish celebrations and Holy Days are also briefly introduced in order to offer greater understanding of the origination and importance of traditions found within Judaism.

During this course, you'll also be introduced into home life in a Jewish family, as well as the types of foods considered kosher. You'll gain a glimpse into the written and oral laws of Judaism and understand why they're so important to the Jewish people, from rules regarding marriage to how Jewish families grieve the loss of a loved one. Concepts regarding Jewish prayer, beliefs regarding mysticism, and the existence of angels and demons, heaven and hell are also covered.

We'll offer students a brief history of the leaders, prophets and kings of the Jewish people from the time of Abraham to the destruction of the second temple, followed by a review of one of the most tragic periods in human history - the Holocaust. Our basic course into Judaism will conclude with the literal rebirth of the Jewish nation and their continued struggle to maintain a land they can call their home - the modern state of Israel.

We hope this course will interest students into continuing their learning and research of Judaism, in order to encourage tolerance, knowledge and acceptance of religions around the world.


What is Judaism?

Judaism is a way of life. It's a religion, but it's also a heritage developed through thousands of years of beliefs, rituals, and practices. It's a concept that intertwines generations of customs, thousands of years of history, and sacred and mysterious rituals.

The Jewish faith is one of the most well-known and practiced in the world, originating from a dedication to continue the teachings, language, and rituals of its origins to generations of descendants. While Judaism originated in the deserts of the Middle East, it is today practiced across oceans in the Americans, Eastern Europe, the Orient, and the depths of South America.

Judaism dates back 4,000 years to the time of Abraham. Using a very simplistic definition, Judaism combines belief in one supreme God, the acceptance of the Torah as a divine life plan, and a belief that they are God's chosen people.

There are different movements or divisions within Judaism itself. To date, you might find an Orthodox or Hasidic Jew (Hasidic Jews are distinguished from others through their dress and sidelocks and lifestyle, much as the Amish in the U.S.), an Ashkenazic Jew from Eastern Europe, and a Sephardic Jew from Spain seated at the same table discussing the Torah in discussion and friendship. Depending on geographic location, Judaism has developed over the centuries into different divisions with extremely similar belief systems, but nevertheless with differences that identify and personify themselves through different culture and traditions.

For example, those descended from Jews in Western and Eastern Europe may belong to the Ashkenazic movement (known as Ashkenazi Jews). Descendants of Jews from North Africa and Middle Eastern regions, as well as Spain and Portugal may be defined as Sephardic Jews. Those descended from North African, Middle Eastern, and other surrounding areas and cultures are known as Mizrachi Jews. There are also Oriental, Ethiopian, and Yemenite Jews.

According to Biblical teachings in the Old Testament, the Jewish people were divided into 12 tribes, one each for the 12 sons of Jacob, known as the father of the children of Israel:

  • Reuben
  • Simeon
  • Levi
  • Judah
  • Dan
  • Naphtali
  • Gad
  • Asher
  • Issachar
  • Zebulon
  • Joseph
  • Benjamin

Many famous Old Testament leaders and prophets are recognized by their tribe. For example, King Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin, and Moses and his brother, Aaron, were of the tribe of Levi. Kings Solomon and David were of the tribe of Judah. 

General Beliefs

The Jewish faith is based on 13 principles that define exactly what Jews believe in. However, not every Jew believes that these fundamentals of faith are set in stone. That's the uniqueness of Judaism. Jewish faith, like many others, is fluid, and interpretations between individuals often differ.

Judaism is a faith that recognizes the existence of God as a unique, eternal, and incorporeal being. Those of the Jewish faith pray only to God. They follow the history and laws carried down from the first five books of the Bible; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, known as the written Torah .

Jews also believe that the Torah and laws, beliefs, rituals, and guidelines for living were handed down to Moses from God. Other oral teachings that are now part of what is called the Torah are the basics of the faith and instruct each individual on how to deal with, and behave,  toward their fellow man.

The Jews follow what is written in the Torah or Holy Scripture writings of the Old Testament, just as Christians follow what is written in the Old and New testaments of the Holy Bible. They believe, like Christians, that God knows and senses the thoughts of man, and knows what they've done with their lives. The Jewish faith also believes that God punishes those who are wicked or evil, and rewards those who are good or strive to live a good, clean, moral life.

Both Christians and Jews believe that the dead will be resurrected, but the one major difference between Judaism and Christianity is that the Jews don't believe that the Messiah has yet arrived. They believe the Messiah is yet to come. Christians believe that the Messiah has already come in the human form of Jesus Christ, crucified on Calvary Hill near Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago.

Of course, this is a very simplistic view of the Jewish faith, and there are many details regarding these basic beliefs, or tenets of faith, that more fully describe the living essence of Judaism. We will more deeply explore the Torah, Jewish prayers, and the importance of prophets as we proceed through this course. 
  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
  • Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

    Course Lessons

    Average Lesson Rating:
    4.6 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
    "Extraordinarily Helpful"
    (932 votes)

    Lesson 1: What is Judaism?

    From ancient times to today, Judaism has provided millions of individuals around the world with a solid foundation for their religious, cultural, and spiritual beliefs. 40 Total Points
    • Lesson 1 Video A
    • Lesson 1 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review Article: Judaism 101
    • Take Poll: Judaism
    • Take Survey: Reasons for Taking this Course
    • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
    • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 1 Exam

    Lesson 2: Who's Who in the Synagogue

    Understanding Jewish leadership in the synagogue or temple means learning the basics of how the synagogue functions as a whole and how its leaders are responsible for offering the guidance, examples and lessons of their faith. 35 Total Points
    • Lesson 2 Video A
    • Lesson 2 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review 5 Articles: Synagogue; Rabbi; Western Wall; King Solomon; The Lost Arc of the Covenant
    • Review Video: What to expect at a Synagogue
    • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 2 Exam

    Lesson 3: Life Traditions

    In this lesson, we'll briefly cover each milestone and the different traditions involved in their recognition and celebration. 34 Total Points
    • Lesson 3 Video A
    • Lesson 3 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review 2 Articles: Jewish Traditions; Jewish Coming of Age Traditions
    • Review Video: More Jewish Traditions
    • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 3 Exam

    Lesson 4: Jewish Celebrations and Holy Days

    In this lesson, we'll go through the calendar year and highlight some of the most important holy days - and traditions or celebrations - of the Jewish faith. 35 Total Points
    • Lesson 4 Video A
    • Lesson 4 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review 2 Articles: Jewish Holidays; Yom Kippur
    • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 4 Exam

    Lesson 5: The Jewish Home

    In a Jewish home, family life and marriage are considered a religious obligation. 35 Total Points
    • Lesson 5 Video A
    • Lesson 5 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review 2 Articles: The Shema; Mezuzah
    • Review Video: Jewish Home Tour
    • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 5 Exam

    Lesson 6: Jewish Foods and Cuisine

    In this lesson, we will go over the basic laws and traditions when it comes to Jewish cooking and food preparation. 34 Total Points
    • Lesson 6 Video A
    • Lesson 6 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review 2 Articles: Jewish Recipes; Jewish Cooking in America
    • Review Video: Top 8 Jewish Foods
    • Take Poll: Kosher
    • Complete: Lesson 6 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 6 Exam

    Lesson 7: Jewish Written Laws

    In this lesson, we'll cover some of the basics in regard to Jewish written law and how such laws affect the lives, beliefs and practices of Jewish people around the world. 35 Total Points
    • Lesson 7 Video A
    • Lesson 7 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review 2 Articles: The Torah; Septuagint
    • Review Video: Jewish Laws Video
    • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 7 Exam

    Lesson 8: The Oral Laws

    While the Torah includes a written description, interpretation and commentary regarding laws, oral laws involve legal decisions and are open to discussion, deliberation, and interpretation to some degree. 34 Total Points
    • Lesson 8 Video A
    • Lesson 8 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review 2 Articles: The Oral Law; Mishnah
    • Review Video: Understanding the Oral Torah Tradition
    • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 8 Exam

    Lesson 9: Jewish Burial Rituals and Traditions

    In this lesson, you'll learn the basics regarding a few Jewish burial traditions and rituals, as well as how funerals are prepared. 35 Total Points
    • Lesson 9 Video A
    • Lesson 9 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review Video: Jewish Burial Traditions
    • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 9 Exam

    Lesson 10: Abraham to Exodus

    In this lesson, we'll cover the period of Jewish history from the time of Abraham, to the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt. 35 Total Points
    • Lesson 10 Video A
    • Lesson 10 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review 2 Articles: Abraham; Genesis
    • Complete: Lesson 10 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 10 Exam

    Lesson 11: The Books of Moses

    The book of Exodus focuses on instructing the Israeli people regarding the need for redemption, and how to prepare for such redemption. 35 Total Points
    • Lesson 11 Video A
    • Lesson 11 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review 2 Articles: Moses; Moses and Exodus
    • Complete: Lesson 11 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 11 Exam

    Lesson 12: From King David to the Lesser Prophets

    In this lesson, you'll receive a brief introduction into some of the most well-known and respected figures of the Old Testament, who helped to guide and develop Judaism, culture, and instruct the people to follow Judaic law, traditions, and rituals. 32 Total Points
    • Lesson 12 Video A
    • Lesson 12 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review 2 Articles: Twelve Minor Prophets; Timeline of the Prophets
    • Complete: Lesson 12 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 12 Exam

    Lesson 13: Jewish Prayers

    In this lesson, we'll offer a brief introduction into the concept of prayer in Judaism. 34 Total Points
    • Lesson 13 Video A
    • Lesson 13 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review 2 Articles: Common Prayers and Blessing; Jewish Prayers for All Occasions
    • Complete: Lesson 13 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 13 Exam

    Lesson 14: Jewish Mysticism

    In this lesson, students will gain a brief introduction into the Jewish belief system involving angels and prophets, and dreams and visions, which may be considered mysterious by some, and perfectly natural for others. 34 Total Points
    • Lesson 14 Video A
    • Lesson 14 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review 2 Articles: Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism; Angels in Jewish Tradition
    • Complete: Lesson 14 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 14 Exam

    Lesson 15: The Holocaust

    Known by the Jewish people as Shoah, the term Holocaust refers to one of the most tragic and horrifying periods of history of the Jewish people. 35 Total Points
    • Lesson 15 Video A
    • Lesson 15 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review Article: Introduction to the Holocaust
    • Review Video: Holocaust Survivor Interview
    • Complete: Lesson 15 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 15 Exam

    Lesson 16: Starting Over

    The State of Israel was established on May 14,1948. A tentative peace was created with its Arab neighbors, an uneasy peace fraught with struggles, outbreaks of violence, and sometimes war. 35 Total Points
    • Lesson 16 Video A
    • Lesson 16 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review Article: A History of Israel and the Jewish People
    • Review Video: Israel: Birth of a Nation Video
    • Take Poll: Israel
    • Complete: Lesson 16 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 16 Exam

    Lesson 17: The Six-Day War

    During the days leading up to the Six-Day War, Israel was surrounded by nearly 500,000 troops, 3,000 tanks, and 800 military aircraft from their detractors. 34 Total Points
    • Lesson 17 Video A
    • Lesson 17 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review 2 Articles: The Six-Day War; 1967--The Six-Day War
    • Review Video: Six Day War Documentary
    • Complete: Lesson 17 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 17 Exam

    Lesson 18: Influential Jewish Contributions

    In the following lesson, we'll give you a brief glimpse into some of the most important contributors to society in a variety of categories. 34 Total Points
    • Lesson 18 Video A
    • Lesson 18 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review 2 Articles: Jewish Contributions to World Civilization; Albert Einstein
    • Complete: Lesson 18 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 18 Exam

    Lesson 19: Post Modern Age Judaism

    We conclude this lesson on your introduction into Judaism with the feelings and attitudes regarding both the ancient homeland of Israel, and the country as a modern state. 115 Total Points
    • Lesson 19 Video A
    • Lesson 19 Video B : Lesson Discussion
    • Review Article: Judaism Today
    • Review Video: Impressions of Israel Video
    • Take Poll: Your Opinion Matters: Course Rating
    • Take Survey: Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
    • Complete: Lesson 19 Assignment
    • Complete: Lesson 19 Exam
    • Complete: The Final Exam
    Total Course Points

    Learning Outcomes

    By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
    • Define what Judaism is.
    • Describe who's who in the Synagogue.
    • Summarize life traditions.
    • Summarize Jewish celebrations and holy days.
    • Describe the Jewish home.
    • Summarize Jewish foods and cuisine.
    • Summarize Jewish Written Laws.
    • Describe the Oral Laws.
    • Describe Jewish Burial Rituals and Traditions.
    • Summarize Abraham to Exodus.
    • Describe The Books of Moses.
    • Summarize From King David to the Lesser Prophets.
    • Summarize Jewish Prayers.
    • Describe Jewish Mysticism.
    • Summarize The Holocaust.
    • Describe The Six-Day War.
    • Summarize influential Jewish contributions.
    • Describe Post Modern Age Judaism, and
    • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

    Additional Course Information

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    Course Title: Judaism 101: An Introduction
    Course Number: 7550540
    Course Requirements: View Course Requirements
    Lessons Rating: 4.6 / 5 Stars (932 votes)
    Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
    Course Type: General Education (Self-Paced, Online Class)
    CEU Value: 1.6 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
    CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
    Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
    Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
    Instructor: C. Michael McKenna
    Syllabus: View Syllabus
    Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
    Course Fee: $65.00 (no CEU Certification) || with Online CEU Certification: $90.00

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