By Lisa Katz
By Chaviva Gordon-Bennett, About.com Guide to Judaism
Between family, work and community obligations, the days, weeks and years of your 21st century life fly by. So why spend time incorporating Judaism into your life? Because while Jewish living can be challenging, it can be rewarding too. Culturally enriching and spiritually uplifting, Judaism can add meaning to each day, week and year.
With input from all streams of Jewish thought, this site can help you integrate enduring Jewish traditions into your modern world. Why give your baby a Hebrew name? How can you hang a mezuzah? How do you light Sabbath candles? Why join a synagogue? Find ways Judaism can enhance your life.
- Welcoming Jewish Babies
- Raising Jewish Children
- Learning about Judaism
- Celebrating Bar and Bat Mitzvahs
- Traveling to Israel
- Having a Jewish Wedding
- Keeping Kosher
- Observing the Sabbath
- Being an Interfaith Family
- Following Jewish Mourning Rituals
Welcoming Jewish Babies
Read about Judaism's naming customs. Find Hebrew names for boys and girls. Learn about traditional welcoming rituals for Jewish babies such as the Bris, Pidyon HaBen, and Simchat Bat ceremonies. Find ways to welcome your Jewish baby into the world.
- Ritual Circumcision of Jewish Baby Boys (Bris)
- Ritual Redemption of First-Born Sons (Pidyon HaBen)
- Naming Ceremonies for Jewish Baby Girls (Simchat Bat)
Raising Jewish Children
Raising Jewish children today is challenging. Since America is so welcoming to Jews and most American Jews do not live in insulated Jewish bubbles, the non-Jewish world wields great power over Jewish children. Should Jewish children celebrate Halloween? Should Jewish kids participate in their school’s Christmas play? Is a Jewish Day School education worth $10,000? Which Jewish summer camp is best for your child? How can you make Passover Seder fun for your children? Find ways parents can give their children knowledge of and love for their Jewish heritage.
- Talking to Children About God
- A Jewish Bedtime Ritual for Children
- Free Jewish Coloring Pages for Kids
- Jewish Educational Software for Children
- High Holidays for Kids
- Hanukkah for Kids
- Purim for Kids
- Passover for Kids
- Jewish Summer Camps
- The High Cost of Raising Jewish Children in America Today
Learning about Judaism
Torah, which literally means instruction, contains God’s laws for the Jewish people. From the moment that Moses brought the Torah down from Mount Sinai, learning has been an essential part of Judaism. Study was key to understanding God’s laws, and education was key to passing them on to the next generation. In fact, with the loss of political independence, Jewish survival became dependent on learning Torah. “Every Jew must study Torah, whether poor or rich, healthy or ailing, young or old” (Yad, Talmud Torah 1:8). Find ways you can learn about Judaism.
Celebrating Bar and Bat Mitzvahs
Bar Mitzvah literally means “son of the commandment”, and Bat Mitzvah “daughter of the commandment.” When a Jewish boy or girl becomes a bar or bat mitzvah, they accept God’s commandments ( mitzvoth) and enter into the adult Jewish community. While the various branches of Judaism may differ in their definitions of these ( mitzvoth), all branches of Judaism view a child’s entrance into Jewish adulthood as a joyous occasion. Find ways you can celebrate your child’s bar or bat mitzvah.
- About Bar Mitzvah
- About Bat Mitzvah
- Celebrating a Bar or Bat Mitzvah in Israel
- About Confirmation
- More About Bar and Bat Mitzvahs
Traveling to Israel
Israel's rich history, religious significance, and interesting landscapes attract tourists of all religious and cultural backgrounds. But Jews living in the Diaspora can gain something especially significant from visiting Israel. Research has shown that travel to Israel strengthens Jewish identity. Feel like climbing Masada, praying in Jerusalem, shopping in Tel Aviv, snorkeling in Eilat, or exploring archaeological findings in Ceasaria? Find ways to make your trip to Israel meaningful, memorable and fun.
- Resources for Travelers to Israel
- High School Programs in Israel
- Gap Year Programs in Israel for North American Youth
Having a Jewish Wedding
Judaism's view of marriage as holy, as a sanctification of life, has contributed greatly to Jewish survival. Jews have succeeded to preserve their religious and cultural heritage for thousands of years, despite being dispersed throughout the world and oppressed by other nations, partly due to their belief in the sanctity of marriage and the resulting stability of the family. The Jewish wedding ceremony celebrates the holy nature of marriage. Find ways to enhance your wedding with enduring, meaningful and uplifting Jewish traditions.
- All About Marriage and Weddings in Judaism
- Step-by-Step Guide to a Traditional Jewish Wedding
- What is the Aufruf?
- What is a Chuppah?
- What is a Ketubah?
- What are Sheva Brachot?
- Kosher Sex - Discussion with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
- Mikvah, Niddah, Family Purity Laws
- More About Jewish Weddings
Keeping kosher means following Jewish Dietary Laws, which have been derived from Biblical laws and rabbinical extensions. By keeping kosher we elevate the act of eating from mundane to holy, follow the Torah, lead a Jewish lifestyle, identify with the Jewish People, and pass Jewish traditions on to the next generation. How can you make your kitchen kosher? Can you make your mother’s silver cutlery kosher? How can you keep kosher on the road? Are there kosher restaurants at Disney? Which kosher symbols can you trust? Find ways you can keep kosher.
Observing the Sabbath
Just as God rested after six days of work creating the world, Jews are commanded to rest on the seventh day of their work week. The fourth of the Ten Commandments says “remember and keep the Sabbath day holy.” The Jewish Sabbath, Shabbat, begins on Friday evening and ends on Saturday evening. Shabbat is a day in which work is put aside to make room for sacred matters to enter into our lives. What is the blessing for lighting Sabbath candles? Can your son observe Shabbat and still play on the school soccer team? How can you make Shabbat a fun family day? Find ways you can make Shabbat a part of your life.
- Top Ten Ways to Make Shabbat a Fun Family Celebration
- Jewish Home Rituals: Friday Evening
- Blessing the Candles
- Blessing the Children
Being an Interfaith Family
33 percent of American Jewish families today are interfaith, and over 50 percent of American Jews today marry non-Jews. Find helpful answers and resources for intermarried couples and interfaith families.
- Understanding Jewish Attitudes toward Intermarriage
- What Judaism Says About Baptizing Jewish Babies
- Christmas and/or Hanukkah?
- Can Non-Jewish Spouses Participate in Bar or Bat Mitzvah Ceremonies?
- Can Intermarried Jews Become Rabbis?
- Can Non-Jewish Spouses Be Buried in Jewish Cemeteries?
- Does an Interfaith Couple Need a Get to Divorce?
- Online Resources for Intermarried Couples
Following Jewish Mourning Rituals
Judaism views death as natural and inevitable, as a part of God’s plan. Jewish practices relating to death are meant to show respect for the dead (kavod ha-met). And Jewish mourning rituals are meant to comfort the living (nihum avelim). What is Mourner's Kaddish? How do you light a Yahrzeit (Memorial) candle? Should you send flowers to the home of a friend sitting Shiva? Should you send invitations to an unveiling ceremony? Find ways that Jewish mourning rituals can help ease the pain of a loss.