Prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., priests were crucial to Jewish worship, since it was they who attended to the required Temple and sacrifices.
Abraham kept his people in line, but soon the Magyars had swept the Avars away and presented a new threat to Charlemagne's descendants.
The key classical Jewish philosophers include Solomon ibn Gabirol, Saadia Gaon, Maimonides, and Gersonides.
The laws of kashrut ("keeping kosher") are the Jewish dietary laws.
Like Christianity, Islam recognized the Jewish scriptures as valid, and also stuck to a firm tradition of monotheism.
The following is a basic, structured list of the central works of Jewish practice and thought.
Jewish communities flourished under Islamic governments in Babylonia, and the later period around 900 to 1200 C.E.
The Jewish holy days celebrate central themes in the relationship between God and the world, such as creation, revelation, and redemption.
Over the next four centuries this law underwent discussion and debate in both of the world's major Jewish communities Palestine and Babylonia.
Over time, as practices developed, codes of Jewish law were written based on the responsa.
Synagogues are a Jewish house of prayer and study, usually containing separate rooms for prayer (the main sanctuary), smaller rooms for study, and often an area for community or educational use.
The Second Temple stood for 420 years, after which it was destroyed by the Roman general (later emperor) Titus in reaction to a Jewish rebellion in 70 C.E.
Early Jewish philosophy was influenced by the philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, and Islamic philosophy.
According to Jewish thought, God established a covenant with the Jewish people, then known as the Israelites, and revealed his laws and commandments to them in the form of the Torah.
The most important code, the Shulkhan Arukh, largely determines Orthodox Jewish religious practice up to today.
Food, in accord with Jewish law, is termed kosher, while other food is termed treifah or treif.
According to traditional Jewish law, someone is considered to be a Jew if he or she was born of a Jewish mother or converted in accord with Jewish Law.
Historically, the Karaites can be traced to controversies in the Babylonian Jewish communities during the eighth and ninth centuries, although some Karaites trace their spiritual roots to back to pre-Talmudic times.
Jewish practice is devoted to the study and observance of these laws and commandments, as they are interpreted according to various ancient and modern authorities.
Jewish prayer is usually described as having two aspects: kavanah (intention) and keva (the ritualistic, structured elements).
The basis of Jewish law is the Torah (the five books of Moses).
Nevertheless, in Orthodox tradition, a number of clear formulations of Jewish principles of faith have appeared, many with common elements, though they differ in certain details.
The core of festival and Sabbath prayer services is the public reading of the Torah, along with connected readings from the other books of the Jewish Bible, called Haftarah.