Judaism is an ancient religion. It goes back to the leader and prophet Abraham who probably lived about 2000bce. He is sometimes called the father of the people of Israel. Jews believe that God wanted to talk to people and he was looking for someone to listen. God spoke to Abraham and made an agreement with him. Abraham, for his part, was to obey God in all things. He showed this when he was willing to sacrifice his own son Isaac because God asked him to. God had seen that Abraham would do anything for him and promised Abraham that he would make him a father of a great people. They would have a land to live in: Canaan. This promise between God and Abraham was called the Covenant.
Isaac had a son called Jacob. Jacob's name was changed to Israel. Israel had twelve sons whose families grew into the twelve tribes of Israel. By the time Abraham's family had become a nation it needed a new covenant. The people had lived as slaves in Egypt and had been led to freedom by Moses. He led them through the desert to Canaan, the promised land. Jews believe that God spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai and gave him a set of guidelines to help the people of Israel live in the correct way and keep their covenant with him.
The first Jewish communities in Britain arrived soon after the Norman Conquest in the eleventh century. However, they were persecuted and eventually expelled. In 1655ce they were once again allowed to settle again. At the end of the nineteenth century their numbers grew once more as they fled persecution in eastern Europe. Many Jews in Britain arrived in the 1930's in order to escape from the Nazi persecution.
Useful Website Addresses