Judaism is the world’s oldest monotheistic faith. The Hebrew scriptures (Tanakh) relate foundational narratives including God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants, the exodus from Egypt and revelation of God’s law under Moses, the construction of the First Temple in Jerusalem under King Solomon, and the reign of King David. The memory of political unity and the laws of the Torah sustained Jewish communities in diaspora after the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Rabbis debated and applied the law and its core values of peace and justice to evolving cultural, social, and political contexts; the most influential rabbinic commentaries were set down in the Talmud (ca. 200-500 CE). As a small minority in Christian Europe and the Islamic world, Jews suffered discrimination and periods of outright persecution, which reached a terrible climax in the Holocaust (1941-1945), which took six million Jewish lives. Israel, founded in 1948 as a parliamentary democracy and the first Jewish state in almost two millennia, has since found itself in political, territorial, and military conflict with most of its Arab neighbors.
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