Stretching 4,000 years back to its patriarch Abraham, Judaism is one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world. A Jew is anyone who is born of a Jewish mother or who has converted in accordance with Jewish law. The foundation of Jewish law (halakha) and tradition is the Torah (also known as the Pentateuch or the Five Book of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). Additional authoritative texts include the Talmud and the Midrash. Observant Jews recite prayers three times daily, with a fourth prayer added on the Sabbath and holidays. The Shema Yisrael (“Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one”) is a centerpiece of Jewish prayer services and encapsulates the monotheistic essence of Judaism. The Sabbath commemorates God’s day of rest after six days of creation. Widely observed Jewish holidays are Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Purim, Shavuot and Hanukkah. In 2010, the world Jewish population was estimated at 13.4 million, or roughly 0.2 percent of the total world population.
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