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Reprinted fromThe Jewish Religion: A Companion, published by Oxford University Press.
Kiddush is the sanctification of the Sabbath.
On Friday night, when the Sabbath begins, the Kiddush ceremony is carried out before sitting down to the Sabbath meal. A cup of wine is filled and held in the hand by the person presiding, usually but not necessarily the father of the house, and the benediction over...
In the days prior to Rosh Hashanah, throughout the Hebrew month of Elul, traditional Jews add Psalm 27 to their daily prayers. Here’s a contemporary translation by Norman Fischer from his book Opening to You: Zen-Inspired Translations of the Psalms
You are my light and my help
Whom should I fear?
You are the fortress of my life
Whom should I dread?
When the narrow ones gather...
[Pour a nearly full glass of red wine again and add just a few drops of white. Drink all.]
We now come to our final cup; the drops of white in the red remind us of the first cup of this seder and of the cyclical nature of the seasons. This final section represents what is invisible to the eye. Instead of eating fruit, we may enjoy sweet smells like cinnamon and rosemary. Beyond the cycle of eating is...
Food that is eaten daily can be taken for granted. One of the ways Judaism helps us to keep our sense of appreciation alive is by instituting blessings to be said before and after eating.
Wonder or radical amazement is the chief characteristic of the religious man’s attitude toward history and nature. One attitude is alien to his spirit: taking things for granted, regarding events as a natural course of...
Right before we begin Shabbat dinner, two uncut loaves of challah are uncovered. As they are raised, the following blessing is recited. After the blessing, the challahs are cut or torn into pieces which are distributed to everyone present. Some people lightly salt their piece of Challah before eating it,
comparing it to a divine offering from temple times.
Baruch ata Adonai,...
We raise a glass and pronounce a toast to the Shabbat day, declaring it to be a celebration in remembrance of God’s resting from the work of Creation and our Exodus from Egypt.
Kiddush is made up of three parts — an opening paragraph drawn from the Book of Genesis, which recalls God’s resting on the seventh day, a blessing over the wine ( borei pri ha-gafen ), and a blessing for the Shabbat day (...
Maximum Pun Time. There are some traditional Jewish puns for the tabletop--do you wish that you will be the head and not the tail this year? Put a fish head on the table! Want to pare away your sins in the coming year? Eat a pear! Put a raisin with a stalk of celery if you’re hoping for “a raise in salary.” This is your time to be as creative as you’d like. Go craisin-y!