What Are Some Important Characteristics of Jewish Culture?

Important characteristics of the Jewish culture include the religion of Judaism, holidays and celebrations, traditional food and Jewish literature found throughout history. Not only is this literature found in Biblical apocryphal works, but it also spans the Medieval period from 500 to 1750 B.C. The writings range from religious in nature to histories, prose and mystical literature.

Judaism is the religion around which Jewish culture revolves. The religion's origins date back to more than 3,500 years ago, from the time that Moses brought the children of Israel from Egypt to the promised land. Like Christianity and Islam, Judaism has its roots with Abraham. The first five books of the Old Testament make up the Torah, the Jewish religious text that outlines the principles of Judaism. Led by rabbis, Jews worship in synagogues, their religious buildings.

Jewish holidays and celebrations are closely linked to Judaism, such as Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot. Jews celebrate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in the seventh Jewish month, and Tishri, on day 10, which corresponds to September or October. Jews spend the day in fasting, confession and worship.

Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabee victory in Jerusalem in 164 B.C. and the miracle of the oil that occurred when only enough oil to light one candle lit a menorah for eight days. The Jews celebrate by lighting the menorah, praying, eating fried foods and exchanging gifts over an eight-night period. Passover celebrates the day when the destroying angel passed over the Israelites in Egypt and struck down the first born of the Egyptians, resulting in the Israelite liberation.