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Judaism: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
The Basic Beliefs of Judaism
When learning about a religion one of the first questions people ask is: What do members of that religion believe? This article talks about what Jews, in general, believe.
Asher, Chavivi, Gilad and More Popular Hebrew...
Hebrew boys' names beginning with the letters A-G along with their meanings.
Ayla, Dorona, Eliora, and More Popular Hebrew...
Hebrew names for girls beginning with the English letters A-E, along with their meanings.
How Jews Celebrate Sukkot, the Feast of...
Sukkot, also known as the Festival of Booths, is a Jewish harvest holiday that falls five days after Yom Kippur.
Did Adam Have a Wife Before Eve?
According to Jewish folklore, Lilith was Adam's first wife. When she left her husband God created Eve as Adam's second wife, while Lilith went on to become the Queen of Demons.
Bar Mitzvahs for Beginners
This article is about the religious ceremony and party referred to as a bar mitzvah.
How to Choose a Hebrew Name for Your Jewish Baby
One of the many things new parents must decide is what to name their baby. Here is a brief guide to choosing a Hebrew name for your child. From the why, to the how, to the when.
The Most Popular Hebrew Baby Names for Girls
Naming a new baby can be an exciting (if somewhat daunting) task. Here are a few popular Hebrew names for girls to get you started.
Meaningful Hebrew Names for Baby Boys (H to M)
Hebrew boys names beginning with the letters H-M, along with their meanings and references to biblical characters with those names.
All About Judaism
Ten of the most common questions asked about Judaism. From questions about Jewish beliefs to our most sacred text, this article is a great place to begin learning about Judaism.
How to: Wave the Lulav and Etrog on Sukkot
One of Sukkot's special mitzvot is to recite blessings over the Four Kinds. Learn how to wave a lulav and etrog in order to fulfill this mitzvah.
What Does the Hamsa Symbol Mean in Judaism?
A hamsa is an amulet shaped like a hand, with three extended fingers in the middle and a curved thumb or pinky finger on either side. It is thought to protect against the “evil eye” and is a popular motif in both Jewish and Middle Eastern jewelry.
All About the Jewish Holiday of Simchat Torah
Simchat Torah marks the completion of the annual Torah reading cycle and is one of the most joyous holidays on the Jewish calendar.
Curious when the 2015-16 Jewish Holidays Are?
This calendar contains the 2015-16 Gregorian calendar dates for all holidays for the Hebrew calendar of the Jewish leap year 5776.
What Is the Star of David's Significance in...
Learn more about the origin and meaning of the Star of David.
All About the Torah, Judaism's Most Important...
The Torah is Judaism's most important text. It contains the Five Books of Moses and is the source of the Ten Commandments and the 613 mitzvot.
Choose a Hebrew Girl's Name (G-K)
Hebrew names for girls beginning with the English letters G-K, as well as their meanings.
8 Things You Need to Know About Rosh HaShanah
There's a lot to know about Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. But if a crash course is what you're after, here are the 8 most important things you should know about Rosh HaShanah.
Who Was Jesus According to Jewish Beliefs?
Stated simply, the Jewish view of Jesus of Nazareth is that he was an ordinary Jewish man and preacher living during the Roman occupation of the Holy Land in the first century C.E.
Chai: What the Hebrew Word and Symbol Really...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: Chai
What Does It Really Mean to Be 'Jewish?'
Is Judaism a race, a religion or a nationality?
Choose a Hebrew Name for Your Baby Girl (L-P)
Hebrew names for girls beginning with the English letters L-P, as well as their meanings.
All About the Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights. It usually falls in late November or December on the secular calendar.
How to Greet Your Jewish Friends on Yom Kippur
What are the correct ways for a non-Jewish (or Jewish) person to respectfully convey warm wishes to Jewish friends on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?
How to Light Yahrzeit (Memorial) Candles
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >What is a Yahrzeit
Choose a Hebrew Girl's Name (R-Z)
Hebrew names for girls beginning with the English letters R-Z, as well as their meanings.
Shemini Atzeret
Shemini Atzeret marks the beginning of the rainy season following the harvest in Israel. The prayer for rain, Tefilat Geshem, is the only ritual that is unique to Shemini Atzeret. Simchat Torah is celebrated on the second day of Shemini Atzeret in the Diaspora and on the only day of Shemini Atzeret in Israel.
The Culmination: Shemini Atzeret and Simchat...
Celebrated with immense joy, Simchat Torah is when Jews celebrate the conclusion and restart of the annual Torah-reading cycle.
Inside the Jewish High Holiday of Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur is one of the most important Jewish holidays and is one of two High Holidays. Yom Kippur falls ten days after Rosh HaShanah and is the day when God decides the fate of each person.
What Do Jews Believe Happens After We Die?
What happens after we die? All of us ask that question at one point or another. Though Judaism does not have a definitive answer, over the centuries a few possible responses have emerged.
Choose a Hebrew Boy's Name (N-Z)
Hebrew boys names beginning with the letters N-Z.
Why Do Some Jews Spell 'God' as 'G-d?'
An explanation of why some Jews write G-d instead of spelling out the word
How to Use the Yiddish Word 'Verklempt'
Verklempt is a Yiddish word that means
Rosh HaShanah: A Beginner's Guide to the Jewish...
Rosh HaShanah is the Jewish New Year. It falls once a year during the month of Tishrei and occurs ten days before Yom Kippur.
Essential Etiquette for Bar and Bat Mitzvah Gifts
I was invited to a bar/bat mitzvah. Should I bring a gift? If so, what kind of gift is appropriate?
Sukkah - Definition of a Sukkah
A sukkah is a temporary dwelling built during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
The Legend of Lilith: From Medieval to Modern...
According to Jewish mythology Lilith was Adam's first wife. Learn more about references to her in medieval texts and modern feminist texts.
How Jewish People Became the Chosen People
A look at different interpretations of what it means for Jews to be the Chosen People.
Jewish Definitions: What Are the Five Books of...
The Five Books of Moses are the biblical books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
What Does the Brit Milah (Bris) Signify for...
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What Is Midrash?
Midrash is a form of rabbinic literature. There are two types of midrash: midrash aggada and midrash halakha.
The High Holidays
What are the Jewish High Holidays, or Judaism's High Holy Days? Are the Days of Awe and Ten Days of Repentance the same? Are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur part of Yamim Noraim?
Irish Catholic or Czech Jew?
The story of Senator John Kerry’s Jewish past is of interest because it reflects the story of many European Jews who shed their Jewish heritage en route to America at the turn of the century.
Why Jewish Men Wear Yarmulkes
After the Star of David, a kippah is one of the most recognizable symbols of Jewish identity.
Ultra-Orthodox Judaism
Hasidic Judaism is one movement within Haredi Judaism. The Hasidic movement is unique in its focus on the joyful observance of God’s commandments (mitzvot), heartfelt prayer and boundless love for God and the world He created. Many ideas for Hasidism derived from Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah).
Meet Ruth: Judaism Convert and King David's...
According to the biblical Book of Ruth, Ruth was a Moabite woman who married into an Israelite family and eventually converted to Judaism. She is the great-grandmother of King David and hence an ancestor of the Messiah.
How to Say 'Happy Jewish New Year' for Rosh...
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Names and Judaism
What does Judaism say about names? Why do Jews often give their children Hebrew names in addition to English names? Is the Bible or modern Israel the best source for Hebrew names?
What Was the First Temple in Jerusalem?
King Solomon built the first Jewish temple as a place of worship and a monument to God. It was destroyed in 587 B.C.E. by the Babylonians - a tragic event that is still remembered every year on Tisha B'Av.
How to Build a Sukkah
One of the most important commandments associated with the celebration of Sukkot involves dwelling and eating in a sukkah. This article gives a brief overview of the requirements a structure must meet in order to be considered a sukkah according to Jewish law.
The Hebrew Language
Learn about the history of Hebrew as an ancient language and the development of Hebrew as a modern language today.
Who Was Miriam?
In the Bible Miriam is the older sister of Moses. She is also a prophetess who plays an important role in the Israelite exodus from Egypt.
What Was the Androgyne?
In rabbinic literature the androgyne was a creature that existed at the beginning of Creation in Genesis 1. It was both male and female and had two faces.
Everything You Need to Know About Jewish...
Learn about common aspects of the Jewish synagogue, from the bimah where the rabbi and cantor conduct services, to the aron kodesh where the torah scrolls reside.
What Does It Mean to 'Become a Bar Mitzvah?'
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Bar Mitzvah literally
Everything You Need to Know About Passover
Passover is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays and commemorates the biblical story of Exodus, when Hebrew slaves were released from bondage in Egypt.
What Candles Symbolize in Judaism
Candles have many symbolic meanings in Judaism and are used on a wide variety of religious occasions.
What Do the Foods on Your Seder Plate Mean?
Passover is a holiday full of ritual symbols that retell the Exodus story. Many of these symbols are displayed on the seder plate, which is the centerpiece of the seder table.
Jewish Contributions to Society
Find a small list of contributions Jewish people have made to society, from Galileo to Levi Strauss.
Do Jews Believe in Satan?
In Judaism, “Satan” is not a sentient being but a metaphor for the evil inclination – the yetzer hara – that exists in every person and tempts us to do wrong.
What to Wear to a Synagogue: The Dos and Don'ts
When attending synagogue services or a Jewish life-cycle event for the first time people often wonder: What should I wear? Find answers to this commonly asked question in this article.
What Really Happened in the Biblical Passover...
The Passover story is recounted in the biblical book of Exodus. It begins with the enslavement of the Hebrews and ends with their freedom from bondage.
Why the Dreidel Is an Important Part of Hanukkah
A dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side. It is used during Hanukkah to play a popular children's game.
When a Jewish Person Calls You a Mensch, What...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: Mensch
Jewish Views of the Afterlife: What is Gan Eden?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >In addition to
Do Jews Believe in Sin?
There are three kinds of sin in Judaism: sins against God, sins against another person, and sins against yourself.
Passover Basics: How to Host a Seder
A Passover seder is a service held at home as part of the Passover celebration. It is always observed on the first night of Passover, and in some homes on the second night as well. On both nights, the seder concludes with a dinner.
Hanukkah Traditions for Kids
Holidays give us a wonderful opportunity share Jewish traditions and stories with our children. Here are some ideas for ways you can celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah with your family.
Learn the Rabbi's Role in the Jewish Community
The rabbi is the spiritual leader of a Jewish community. He or she is responsible for leading services, conducting life cycle events and serving as a counselor and role model.
Rosh HaShanah Food Customs
Rosh HaShanah is the Jewish New Year. Over the centuries it has become associated with many food customs. Learn more about them in this article.
Apple and Honey on Rosh HaShanah
One of the most popular and well-known food customs on Rosh HaShanah has to do with dipping apple slices into honey. This sweet combination stems from an age-old Jewish tradition of eating sweet foods to express our hope for a sweet new year.
Snazz Up Your Sukkah with These Tips and Laws
Building the sukkah can be a laborious task, but it's the decorating of the sukkah that truly brings Sukkot alive for Jews of all ages!
What Are the Four Species?
The Four Species play an important role in the holiday of Sukkot, where they take the form of a lulav and an etrog.
Your Guide to the Most Common Yiddish Words and...
Definition of Yiddish words and expressions.
What It Means When You Say 'Mazel Tov!'
mazel tov definition yiddish glossary jewish sayings hebrew phrases
What Is a Shofar?
The shofar is a Jewish instrument most often made from a ram’s horn, though it can also be made from the horn of a sheep or goat. It makes a trumpet-like sound and is traditionally blown on Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year.
King David
King David was the most brilliant leader of ancient Israel and the first king of a united Israel. Read a biography of this Jewish leader.
Women in the Bible: Do You Know the Story of...
In the biblical Book of Esther, Vashti is the wife of King Ahasuerus, the ruler of Persia.
How to Light a Hanukkah Menorah
Instructions for lighting the menorah during the holiday of Hanukkah including blessings and a list of materials you will need.
Jewish Accomplishments
Given that Jews comprise a mere 1/4 of 1% (13 million) of the world's population (6 billion) and that 99% of the world is non-Jewish, the following list of accomplishments by Jews is quite impressive.
Definition of Chutzpah (Yiddish Word)
Chutzpah is a Yiddish word that is used by Jews and non-Jews alike to describe someone who is particularly audacious or has a lot of
How to Celebrate the Jewish Holiday of Purim
A festive Jewish holiday that celebrates the deliverance of the Jews from their enemies in the biblical Book of Esther.
What Do Jewish People Celebrate on Shavuot?
Learn about the origins of Shavuot as well as modern day customs for celebrating this holiday.
About Marriage and Weddings in Judaism
What is the Jewish view of marriage? Learn about marriage according to Judaism. Learn about the Jewish wedding ceremony. What makes Jewish weddings special?
Why Do Some Jewish Women Cover Their Hair?
In Judaism, Orthodox women cover their hair beginning when they get married. But why?
Becoming a Bat Mitzvah
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What Is Yizkor?
Yizkor, which means remembrance in Hebrew, is Judaism's memorial prayer.
Judaism 101: Learn All About Family Shabbat...
In many Jewish homes a special blessing is said over the children on Friday evening as Shabbat begins. Learn how to say these blessings and why they are said.
The 4 Questions to Ask on Passover
The Four Questions are an important part of the that highlight the ways in which Passover customs and foods distinguish the holiday from other times of the year. Although they are called
What is a mezuzah and how do I fulfill the...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >One of the easy
What Do Jews Believe? Check Out the 13...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Written in the
What You Should Know About Jezebel from the Bible
Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, King of the Phoenicians, and one of the wives of Ahab, King of North Israel. Her story is recounted in 1 Kings and 2 Kings, where she is described as a worshiper of the god Baal and the goddess Asherah, and as an enemy of God's prophets.
What is a chumash? How does it differ from a...
There are many different versions of the chumash, and it's different than an actual Torah scroll, but how?
What Is Tashlich?
Tashlich is a ritual that traditionally takes place on the first day of Rosh HaShanah.
Definition of Shiksa (Yiddish Word)
Shiksa is a Yiddish word that refers to a non-Jewish woman who is either romantically interested in a Jewish man or who is a Jewish man's object of affection.
Rosh HaShanah Glossary
The most important Rosh HaShanah words and terms for you to know.
Understanding the Evil Eye and the Tragedy it...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >If you're familiar
What is Shabbat in Judaism?
The Talmud says that to observe Shabbat is equal to all of the other commandments combined! But what is Shabbat? How do Jews observe Shabbat?
How Are Tefillin Used in Jewish Prayer?
Tefillin are two small leather boxes that are worn by observant Jewish men during morning services. One box is attached to an arm and the other is affixed between the eyes, just above the forehead.
What Is a Cantor In the Jewish Faith?
In Judaism, a cantor is the person who leads the congregation in prayer along with the rabbi. The position of cantor is significant because music plays a major role in Jewish prayer services.
Hanukkah Songs
Singing is a wonderful way to celebrate any holiday and Hanukkah is no exception. Here are eight popular Hanukkah songs with lyrics, translations and even the melodies.
Dybbuks: The Ghosts and Spirits of Jewish...
According to Jewish folklore, a dybbuk is a ghost or disturbed soul that possesses the body of a living person.
What is the siddur in Judaism? Are there...
In Judaism, the siddur, or prayerbook, is the ultimate guide for Jews to traverse the multitude of daily prayers and blessings.
The Jewish Shabbat Morning Service
The shabbat morning service is called shacharit shabbat. Learn more about the different prayers that are said by the Jewish community during this weekly service.
Hanukkah Food Traditions
Like many Jewish holidays, Hanukkah has accompanying food traditions. Fried foods such as sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) and latkes (potato pancakes) are especially popular, as are dairy foods.
Who are the haredim in Judaism?
In the world of Jewish observance and identification, it is the haredim that are perhaps the most visually identifiable and, yet, most misunderstood.
Why Are There 4 Jewish New Years?
The Jewish calendar traditionally has four new years days each with a different purpose. While this may seem strange at first glance it is not so different from the modern American calendar. We have the regular calendar year (January-December), fiscal or budget years for businesses which can have various start dates, the government's fiscal year (October-September), and the school year (September-June), just to name a few.
What is Teshuvah?
Teshuvah is a key Jewish concept that involves repentance and new beginnings.
What Foods Are Kosher for Passover?
Observing Passover requires a certain amount of knowledge when it comes to kosher do's and don'ts. In addition to eating matzah during your seder, Jews are prohibited from eating leavened bread during the entire week of Passover. A number of specific foods are also off limits.
The Woman of Valor, Aishes Chayil
Every Friday evening, before the festive Shabbat meal, Jews the world over sing a special poem to honor the Jewish woman: Aishes Chayil or Eishes Chayil.
Branches of Judaism
Reform Judaism, a progressive branch of Judaism, differs from more ritually observant forms of Judaism in its belief that Judaism has evolved and adapted over the centuries and that it must continue to do so. Reform Judaism is the largest Jewish movement in North America today.
Do you know about the 7 guests that make Sukkot...
One of the most beautiful parts of Sukkot, the holiday that finds Jews sitting, eating, and sleeping in temporary huts, is the mitzvah of ushpizin.
What Is Olam Ha Ba?
Though Judaism does not have definitive conception of the afterlife, Olam Ha Ba is one rabbinic response to the question of what happens after we die.
Jewish Leaders - Abraham
Abraham was the first Jew, the Father of the Jewish People.
Simchat Bat
How are Jewish families today celebrating the births of their daughters? Does Judaism have naming ceremonies for baby girls like they have the bris for baby boys?
Pre-Fast Prep to the Final Shofar Blast, Are...
On Yom Kippur, God's decree for the Jewish people is sealed, and there are many practices and customs for the day. Find out how to observe Yom Kippur now!
Sex in Judaism
What does Judaism's view on sex?
Are Jewish men allowed to shave?
Shave and a haircut? If you’re Jewish, you have to think twice. The laws about shaving in Judaism are diverse and different communities observe different customs.
Moses, or Moshe in Hebrew, led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. The story of the Exodus from slavery to freedom is told each year at the Passover Seder. Read this biography of a Jewish leader.
What Is a Hanukkiyah?
A hanukkiyah is a candelabrum with eight candleholders (branches) in a row and a ninth candleholder set a little above the others. It is different from a menorah, which has seven branches and was used in the Temple before it was destroyed in 70 C.E.
Latkes: All About the Traditional Hanukkah...
Latkes are potato pancakes that are traditionally fried in oil as part of the Hanukkah holiday celebration.
Your Guide to the Different Forms of the...
The Kaddish prayer is one of the most important prayers in Judaism. Learn more about the Kaddish and its different forms in this article.
What Do Elijah's Cup and Miriam's Cup Symbolize...
The Passover seder incorporates a variety of symbolic items, among them, Elijah's Cup and Miriam's Cup. Learn more about these two vessels, each of which is based upon a biblical character.
Hebrew Calendar
While the secular (also referred to as Gregorian) calendar is based on the earth's rotation around the sun, the Hebrew calendar calculates months according to the moon and years according to the sun.
What is a shtreimel?
If you've seen a religious Jewish man walking around with a relic of furry, colder days in Russia, you might be curious about the shtreimel!
The Sights, Sounds, and Punny Food of Rosh...
Chock full of unique and punny traditions and observances, Rosh HaShanah marks the kick-off to a special relationship between God and humankind.
What Is Challah?
Challah is a loaf of yeast-risen egg bread that is traditionally eaten by Jews on Shabbat, on ceremonial occasions and during festival holidays. The word
The Story of the Jewish Holiday of Purim
Purim is a festive Jewish holiday that celebrates the deliverance of the Jews from their enemies in the biblical Book of Esther. Purim is celebrated on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of Adar. Purim is so-called because the villain of the story, Haman, cast the
Ask the Rabbi - Reasons for Keeping Kosher
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers a question about why Jews keep kosher.
Hanukkah Candle Lighting Blessings
One of the most important Hanukkah rituals involves lighting the Hanukkah menorah. Learn more about this practice and about the blessings that are said in this article.
Jewish Wedding Ring
Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner explains why, during the Jewish wedding ceremony, the groom puts the ring on the bride's index finger.
What Is Tisha B'Av?
Tisha B'Av is a Jewish day of mourning - and a fast day - that commemorates the destruction of the two Temples.
Miracle? That's What the Hallel Prayer is For!
If you've ever been at synagogue and been surprised by what seems like a random addition that has you flipping the pages, it's probably the hallel prayer!
Why Judaism Has 613 Commandments
Most people are well aware of the 10 commandments, or mitzvot, but many do not know that Judaism has 603 additional commandments.
Upping the Atonement Ante Between Rosh HaShanah...
Between the holidays of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are ten days with a unique custom and one main focus: atonement.
Ask the Rabbi - Seven
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers a question about the number seven in Judaism.
How to Be a Mensch
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >One of the amazing
Women of the Purim Story
Two women play an important role in the story of Purim, a holiday that celebrates how Jews narrowly escaped tragedy in the biblical book of Esther. Learn more about Vashti and Esther in this article.
Am I Jewish?
With a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, am I Jewish? Does Matrilineal or Patrilineal Descent determine Jewish identity?
Who Was Yael in the Bible?
According to the biblical Book of Judges, Yael was the wife of Heber the Kenite. She is famous for killing Sisera, an enemy general who was leading his troops against Israel.
Ask the Rabbi -Hebrew Calendar and Jubilee Year
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers questions about the Hebrew calendar and the counting of the Jubilee Year.
The Role of Honey in Judaism
On every Rosh HaShanah table is the beautiful honey dish, but why is honey so important in Judaism? Find out its origins, weird facts, and more.
What Is a Bracha?
This article explains what a bracha is and also gives examples of different kinds of brachot.
What Does 'Naches' Mean in Yiddish?
: Naches is a Yiddish word that means "pride" or "joy." Typically naches refers to the pride or joy that
How to Prepare for the Yom Kippur (or Any) Fast
Tips on how to prepare for the Yom Kippur (or any) fast.
Ask the Rabbi - Clothing Worn by Jews
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers a question about clothing worn by Jews.
What are the tzitzit in Judaism? What is a...
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Definition of Kvetch (Yiddish Word)
: Kvetch is a Yiddish word that means "to complain." It can also be used to refer to someone who does
It's Shabbat, so pour the wine and get ready...
What is kiddush in Judaism? It is a central part of the every Shabbat, holiday, and other special life event ... and so much more.

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