You've probably heard that the best way to start the day is with a good breakfast. But nowhere is that truism put into practice more effectively – or deliciously – than in Israel.
Kol Nidre (pronounced coal nee-dray) is a declaration recited or sung at the beginning of the evening service on Yom Kippur.
The name means “all vows,” and refers to the text that asks God to annul any carelessly undertaken religious vows the congregants may make during the coming year.
Shalom is perhaps one of the best known Hebrew words, but it might also be one of the most misunderstood. This is because shalom is most often translated into English as “peace,” and while the definition of peace certainly overlaps the definition of shalom, the true, biblical concept of shalom is much more expansive.
Sage, as defined in the dictionary, is a profoundly wise person or a person famed for wisdom. Yet, in Jewish thought, when we say Sage we are usually referring to scholars of a specific period. That period followed the age of prophecy, which ended in the final years of the First Temple, 586 BCE.
Shavuot (pronounced "sha-voo-OHT") is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the single most important event in Israel's history: the giving of the Torah (the first five books in the Hebrew Bible) to Moses at Mount Sinai. This year Shavuot starts tonight at sundown and finishes at sundown on May 16.
The seder feast takes place on the first two evenings of Passover (except in Israel, where it is held only on the first night) and is typically conducted in the home. It is here, in the family seder, that the essential elements of the holiday are celebrated, a time when Jews remember the miraculous story of the Exodus.
Tefillin are small black boxes that Jewish men strap to their body – one each to their head and their arm – each weekday during morning prayers.
The dreidel is a four-sided top used for the traditional game played by children – and sometimes adults – during Hanukkah.
There is also a spiritual significance to the dreidel. A Hebrew letter is shown on each side of the top – nun, gimel, hay, and shin. They form an acronym for the Hebrew words ness gadol haya sham, which means "a great miracle happened there."
The menorah is a seven-branched candelabrum similar to those used in Jerusalem’s two Temples. The shape of the menorah is derived from the moriah plant.
Menorahs are most often associated with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which starts at sundown this Saturday. Hanukkah celebrates a story that unfolded more than 2,000 years ago, when a small group of Jews called the Maccabees revolted against the powerful Greek and Syrian army that had occupied Israel and was forcing paganism on the Jewish people.
The tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl, is a four-cornered garment that is usually white and made either of wool, cotton, or silk. Knotted tassels, or fringes, are attached to the four corners in fulfillment of the biblical command from the book of Numbers to envelop the wearer in God’s word.
Jewish men wear the tallit during morning prayers. Some also wear a garment called the tzitzit or tallit katan (small tallit) under their shirt all day as a reminder to observe all the commandments of the Torah.