Jewish practices and symbols

Observer of the Commandment
• Judaism focuses on
how to worship God
• It could be said that
for Jews, spiritual
perfection is mainly a
matter of perfect
• Observing Torah
requires not only
worshiping God but
also leading an ethical
Daily worship through prayer
• Prayer worship is mandatory only for males age
13 and older
• Women are traditionally excused because of their
household responsibilities
• Males alone are required to wear certain ritual
– Skullcap aka yarmulke- God is higher than
– Tefillin- A set of 2 small boxes containing
biblical passages secured to the forehead and
to the left arm – near the mind and the heart
– The Talit or prayer shawl- can be drawn over
the head for privacy. And it signifies
humility in the sight of God
• Prayers are said 3 times a day
– Morning, afternoon, and evening
– Prayers are usually recited at home but in
public synagogues as well
• Home and synagogue are the two centers of
Jewish worship
Rites of Passage
Ritual events
marking life’s major
2 purposes
1. Reflect the inevitable
changes of life
2. Define the
responsibilities of
each stage of life
Birth and Naming
• The rite of passage marking the
birth of a child involves
circumcision for boys, and naming
for both boys and girls
• Boys are circumcised and named
in a ceremony that takes place on
the 8th day of life
– The ceremony takes place in the
house of the parents
girls are named at the synagogue
during a Sabbath service
Coming of Age
• Bar mitzvah = son of the
– Boys read from the
• Bat mitzvah = daughter
of the commandment
– Girls also read from
the Torah
– Orthodox Jewish girls
do not observe bat
• The coming of age is the
rituals in which boys and
girls take on the
religious responsibilities
of an adult
• The bride and groom stand
beneath the huppah or
bridal canopy
• Seven blessing are read
over a cup of wine
• The ceremony concludes
when the groom breaks a
wine glass beneath his foot
– Ancient tradition- symbol of
the destruction of the two
Temples in Jerusalem
– It reminds the married
couple that marriage brings
difficulties and pain along
with joy
Death and mourning
• Several distinct stages of mourning are prescribed:
Stage 1: Lasts from death to burial
Family members rip their clothes and recite verse when they find out that a
family member died
The mourners are restricted from certain activities- shaving and wearing
They are relieved of many of the normal requirements- daily prayer
The deceased is buried in a plain wooden coffin
Death and mourning- stage 2
• The second stage begins
after burial with the recital of
the kaddish
– A prayer of mourning
• This stage lasts for seven
• During this time community
members visit the family
• Conversation is limited to
good comments about the
one who has died
• Upon departing, the visitors
recite a special prayer of
Death and mourning- stages 3 & 4
A third stage lasts until 30 days after burial
Normal activities are resumed
But social gathering and celebrations are avoided
A fourth stage follows if the deceased is one’s parent
– It lasts until the first anniversary of the death
– The mourners avoid their usual seats at the synagogue
– Recite the kaddish during services and on the anniversary of the death
Jewish Symbol: the Mezuza
• Attached to the right of the door to people’s homes
on the outside
• Contains a scroll with the Shema
Jewish Symbols: Shofar
• Shofar
– Represents call to action
– Recalls:
• The act of creation
• The sound of trumpets on Mt. Sinai
• Joshua at the battle of Jericho
– Used on Yom Kippur to call people to repentance
– Used on Rosh Hashanah to readiness for a new year
Jewish symbols:
• Menorah
– Celebrates the miracle
of the oil lamp that
lasted 7 days longer than
• occurred at the
rededication of the
Temple in Jerusalem
after the Greeks had
defiled it
• Means ritually
• Applies to food
preparation and
• All blood is
sacred to God
• It gives life
• Pork and
shellfish are