When Did Judaism Become a Religion?



If you were asked to define Judaism, how would you do so? Is it a religion, a culture, a nationality, or all of the above? Not surprisingly, there have been many different responses to this question over the centuries. For example, in 1885, the Pittsburgh Platform stated that Judaism was no longer a nation, but a religious community. In this lesson, learners will study a variety of approaches to this much debated issue and then formulate their own responses on this essential topic.

Lesson Attachments​

The learner will:


  1. understand why defining Judaism as a religion, and/or nation, and/or culture matters
  2. know how Judaism is a religion, nation and culture and how this manifests itself
  3. be able to articulate how they define Judaism for themselves based on the criteria referenced in the lesson

Unpacked for Educators materials include:

  1. An educator’s guide that  contains many rich components. These are organized under the following titles:
  • review (questions that relate to the video)
  • discussion
  • activities
  • reflection
  • further learning


  1. A video designed to spark interest in the topic.
  2. A lesson plan (link in the attachment above) that incorporates additional building blocks for the construction of an engaging and interactive lesson.


Student handouts, computer, projector

The website link includes a “further learning” section in the educator’s guide.

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