About the symbol: The Star of David representing the overlapping of the male and the female creating the six pointed star.
Judaism - 2000 BCE
Judaism originated with a divine covenant between the God of the ancient Israelites and Abraham around 2000 BCE. The next leader of the Israelites, Moses, led his people out of captivity in Egypt and received the Law from God. Joshua later led them into the Promised Land where Samuel established the Israelite kingdom with Saul as its first king. King David established Jerusalem and King Solomon built the first temple there. In 70 CE the temple was destroyed and the Jews were scattered throughout the world until 1948 when the state of Israel was formed.
Jews believe in one creator who alone is to be worshipped as absolute ruler of the universe. He monitors people's activities and rewards good deeds and punishes evil. The Torah was revealed to Moses by God and can not be changed though God does communicate with the Jewish people through prophets. Jews believe in the inherent goodness of the world and it inhabitants as creations of God and do not require a savior to save them from original sin. They believe they are God's chosen people and that the Messiah will arrive in the future, gather them into Israel, there will be a general resurrection of the dead, and the Jerusalem Temple destroyed in 70 CE will be rebuilt.
There are seven recognized branches of Judaism:
Orthodox-developed in response to threats of reform and secularization. It claims to be the authentic classical Jewish religion.
Conservative---move in late 19th century to combine tradition and change. It is the middle position between Orthodox and Reform Judaisms.
Reformed (Progressive)---a modern movement growing out of the 18th century. It is an attempt to adjust classical Judaism to changes in its external situation, especially those elements leading to increased social and cultural integration, and an effort at internal self-criticism of the received tradition.
Zionist---a political movement leading to the establishment and development of the Jewish national homeland in the land of Israel. "Zion" is one of the hills of Jerusalem, the spiritual center of the Jewish homeland.
Hasidism---a mystic aspect of Judaism which developed in the 2nd half of the 18th century. It provides an alternative way of religious worship with a charismatic personality. It is with an optimistic and joyous orientation in this world and that the higher form of communion with God is realized in the context of social relations.
Messanic---this has greatly changed through the centuries. Before Roman rule the Messiah was "The Lord's Anointed" any anointed king of the descendants of David. He was not a miraculous or metaphysical figure. Under oppressive Roman rule, hopes for a return of David's rule developed in the figure of a redemptive figure. The Qumran sect exhibit strong messanic tendencies. The destruction of the Second Temple as well as the failed Bar Kokhba rebellion in 135 AD propelled the messanic hope. Today, following the Holocaust, the Messanic hope has resurged in Judaism.
Reconstructionist---originated finally about 1940 by Mordecai Kaplan of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He professed that Judaism is a social phenomenon rather than a spiritual orientation. Judaism is an evolving civilization: the corporate beliefs, actions, and institutions of the Jewish people. As an ever-changing civilization, Judaism is timeless and eternal, except the continuity of peoplehood and the desire for moral perfection. God is a force in the universe that makes for goodness, justice, mercy and truth. Prayer is the subjective human reflection on moral salvation, and the significance of prayer is in the affect it creates within the individual.