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Judaism: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Q. Why do male Chasidic Jews have the long side...
Rabbi Shraga Simmons is asked why Orthodox Jews wear side curls in their hair.
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.
Bar Mitzvahs for Beginners
This article is about the religious ceremony and party referred to as a bar mitzvah.
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.
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.
What Is the Star of David's Significance in...
Learn more about the origin and meaning of the Star of David.
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 Girl's Name (G-K)
Hebrew names for girls beginning with the English letters G-K, as well as their meanings.
Choose a Hebrew Girl's Name (R-Z)
Hebrew names for girls beginning with the English letters R-Z, as well as their meanings.
Choose a Hebrew Boy's Name (N-Z)
Hebrew boys names beginning with the letters N-Z.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Chai: What the Hebrew Word and Symbol Really...
: Chai (חי) is a Hebrew word and symbol that means “life.” It is spelled with the Hebrew letters Het
Branches of Judaism - Denominations Humanistic...
Jewish movements, often referred to as denominations, branches or sects of Judaism, differ from each other in some beliefs and thus in the way they observe Judaism. Main movements include Secular Humanist, Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox.
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.
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
What Does It Really Mean to Be 'Jewish?'
Is Judaism a race, a religion or a nationality?
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.
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 Jewish People Became the Chosen People
A look at different interpretations of what it means for Jews to be the Chosen People.
Why Jewish Men Wear Yarmulkes
After the Star of David, a kippah is one of the most recognizable symbols of Jewish identity.
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.
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.
How to Light Yahrzeit (Memorial) Candles
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10 Things Everyone Should Know 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.
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 Does the Brit Milah (Bris) Signify for...
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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 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.
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.
When a Jewish Person Calls You a Mensch, What...
: Mensch (מענטש) a Yiddish word that means "a person of integrity." A mensch is someone who is responsible,
Hasidic Judaism - Ultra-Orthodox Jews - Hasidism
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).
Ten Commandments
When the Israelites accepted the Ten Commandments from God at Mount Sinai, they committed themselves to following a moral code of behavior.
Mezuzah - What, Why and How of Mezuzot
What is a mezuzah? Why hang a mezuzah? Where to affix a mezuzah? Which blessing is said when affixing a mezuzah?
When does Shabbat begin and end each week?
When does the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat) begin and end each week? How can I find beginning and ending times for Jewish holy days?
A Woman of Valor - Eshet Chayil
A Woman of Valor, Eshet Chayil in Hebrew, is a hymn which is customarily recited on Friday evenings, after returning from synagogue and singing "Shalom Aleichem" and before sitting down to the Shabbat evening meal.
What are Tzitzit - Why do Jews wear Tallis -...
What is the Tallit - tallis - that Jews wear during prayer services?Why does Jews wear tzitzit - fringes or tassels?
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.
Meet Miriam: Prophetess and Moses' Older Sister
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.
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.
The 8 Most Important Things to Know About Rosh...
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.
Why Bad Things Happen to Good People - Judaism
Judaism can explain why bad things happen to good people - including murder.
John Kerry's Jewish Roots
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.
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 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.
What It Means When You Say 'Mazel Tov!'
mazel tov definition yiddish glossary jewish sayings hebrew phrases
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.
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.
Rosh HaShanah Glossary
The most important Rosh HaShanah words and terms for you to know.
Elul - A Spiritual Month that Precedes the...
Elul, the last month of the Hebrew year, is the month preceding Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur.
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.
Jewish Contributions to Society
Find a small list of contributions Jewish people have made to society, from Galileo to Levi Strauss.
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.
Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur Greetings
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?
Jewish Jokes - A Priest and a Rabbi
temptations of the flesh rabbi temptation lt faith: Glossary of Jewish Jokes
Night by Elie Wiesel - Holocaust Literature -...
Night, an autobiographical account of life in the Nazi death camps, is a must-read. Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel takes his readers with him from his home, into the ghetto, on the transport, through Selections, into the concentration camps, on the Death March, and beyond. Reading this book gives one a deeper and more personal understanding of the Holocaust experience. Only with this understanding can one genuinely remember the Holocaust and thus help ensure it won't happen again.
Check out our Top 5 Misunderstood Aspects of...
If a rabbi blessed it, it must be kosher, right? Check out this and four other popular misunderstandings about Jews and Judaism.
Branches of Judaism - Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism is the most traditional branch of Judaism. Orthodox Judaism believes that both the Written and Oral Torah are of divine origin, containing the exact words of God without any human influence.
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?
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.
How to Say 'Happy Jewish New Year' for Rosh...
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All 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?
Q. Why do Jews say "L'Chaim" when...
Rabbi Shraga Simmons explains why Jews say L'Chaim when they drink wine.
Jewish Sabbath Rituals - Friday Evening in an...
An important part of Judaism is acknowledging the fruits of the earth as a gift from God. Hence, Judaism prescribes the recitation of blessings before and after eating, before enjoying fragrant aromas such as spices, or upon seeing pleasing sights such as rainbows. The blessing serves to elevate the physical into the realm of the spiritual. On Friday evening, as Jews welcome in their holy day of rest, Shabbat, blessings are recited over candles, wine, bread, children and more.
Why Jews Eat Apples 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.
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.
What is Teshuvah?
Teshuvah is a key Jewish concept that involves repentance and new beginnings.
What Is Midrash?
Midrash is a form of rabbinic literature. There are two types of midrash: midrash aggada and midrash halakha.
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.
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
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.
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.
The Hebrew Language
Learn about the history of Hebrew as an ancient language and the development of Hebrew as a modern language today.
Looking for a change or a bit of luck? Consider...
If you've been to a Jewish celebration of any kind, you might have witnessed a segulah without even knowing it! What are they and what do they mean?
Hebrew Names for Boys
Use this list of popular Biblical names and modern Israeli names to find a Hebrew name for your son.
In the Beginning, There 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.
Jewish Leaders - Abraham
Abraham was the first Jew, the Father of the Jewish People.
Sex in Judaism
What does Judaism's view on sex?
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.
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 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
Sheva Brachot - Seven Blessings - Jewish...
What are Sheva Brachot? What are the Seven Blessings recited at Jewish Weddings?
Circling the Groom
Virtually experience a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony. This step-by-step guide shows how Jewish weddings are celebrated.
Haredi Judaism - Ultra-Orthodox Jews - Haredim
Haredi Judaism is often translated as ultra-Orthodox Judaism, although Haredi Jews themselves object to this translation. Haredi Jews consider themselves to be the true Jews, and consider all the more liberal forms of Judaism to be unauthentic. Learn more about Haredim.
What Was the Great Revolt?
The Great Revolt was the first of three major Jewish rebellions against the Romans. It eventually resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple.
What Does It Mean to 'Become a Bar Mitzvah?'
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Q. Why do Jewish families cover their mirrors...
Rabbi Ari Enkin is asked why Jewish families cover their mirrors after someone dies.
Albert Einstein Quotes
Albert Einstein was a Jewish theoretical physicist who developed the Theory of Relativity.
Who Was Meyer Lansky?
The life of the man sometimes referred to as the “Mob’s Accountant.”
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.
Jewish Holiday Calendar 5774
This calendar contains the 2013-2014 Gregorian calendar dates for all Jewish and Israeli holidays, festivals, and days of mourning.
Q. What is the Jubilee Year in Judaism?
Rabbi Shraga Simmons explains the meaning of the Jubilee Year in Judaism.
Ask the Rabbi - Judaism on Same Sex Relations
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers a question about same sex relations or homosexuality in Judaism.
How to Be a Mensch
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Jews and Shoes: Does Judaism permit barefoot...
One of the more peculiar Jewish traditions involves the wearing -- or not wearing -- of shoes while praying. So what does Jewish law say about shoes?
Ask the Rabbi - Reasons for Keeping Kosher
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers a question about why Jews keep kosher.
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.
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?
Ways to Observe Elul - Preparing for Rosh...
These suggestions for ways to observe Elul may help prepare you spiritually for the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah and Jewish Day of Atonement Yom Kippur.
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.
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.
Ask the Rabbi - Clothing Worn by Jews
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers a question about clothing worn by Jews.
Why did Jews stop making animal sacrifices
Why did Jews stop making animal sacrifices?
All About Judaism's Sabbath Candles
Learn how to light Sabbath candles. Why do Jewish women light Shabbat candles? Which blessings are recited. What rituals are practiced on Judaism's Day of Rest?
Ask the Rabbi - Seven
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers a question about the number seven in Judaism.
What Is the Leviathan?
The Leviathan is a mythical sea monster or dragon that is mentioned in Job 41.
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.
Solomon - King of Israel
david and bathsheba king david and bathsheba copper smelting superpower status northern tribes: Biography of King Solomon.
What Is Tashlich?
Tashlich is a ritual that traditionally takes place on the first day of Rosh HaShanah.
Auschwitz Gas Chamber
Auschwitz Gas Chamber
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.
Meet Jewish American Mobster, Arnold Rothstein
Biography of Rothstein, a New York businessman, gambler and mobster rumored to have fixed the 1919 World Series, and murdered in 1928.
Judaism and Homosexuality
While traditional Judaism views homosexual acts as wrong, more liberal branches of Judaism are allowing for the ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis and are allowing their rabbis and congregations to perform or host same-sex commitment ceremonies.
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.
What Candles Symbolize in Judaism
Candles have many symbolic meanings in Judaism and are used on a wide variety of religious occasions.
Israeli Online News Broadcasts - Online Live...
You can view live video broadcasts of news in Israel from Israeli news sources. It is a great way to practice Hebrew and see how the Israeli media is covering current events in Israel and the Middle East.
Unveiling Ceremony
What is the unveiling ceremony.
Ask the Reform Rabbi - Will I be denied burial...
Am I allowed by Jewish law to get a tattoo? If I get a tattoo, can I still be buried in a Jewish cemetery?
Do Jews Believe in Sin?
There are three kinds of sin in Judaism: sins against God, sins against another person, and sins against yourself.
What Is the Western Wall?
Although many think that the Kotel was an actual wall of the Second Temple, it was actually a retaining wall of the greater Temple Mount area.
American Orthodox Rabbi on Tempting the Evil...
American Orthodox Rabbi A. Page answers a question about tempting the evil eye during pregnancy and Jewish superstition.
How to Perform Havdalah
An introduction to havdalah, a beautiful ritual that brings Shabbat to an end.
Why Do Some Jewish Women Cover Their Hair?
In Judaism, Orthodox women cover their hair beginning when they get married. But why?
What Is the Behemoth?
The Behemoth is a mythical beast that is mentioned in Job 40:15-24. It is said to be a gigantic ox-like beast with bones as hard as bronze and limbs as firm as rods of iron.
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 Do Jews Eat Hamentaschen Pastries During...
Hamentaschen are triangular-shaped pastries that are traditionally eaten during the Jewish holiday of Purim.
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
What Is Rosh Chodesh?
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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.
The Effects of the Holocaust on the Children of...
Evidence shows that the children of Holocaust survivors, referred to as the “Second Generation”, can be deeply affected – both negatively and positively -- by the horrific events their parents experienced.
Jewish Identity - Daughter of Jewish Father and...
Can I be considered Jewish if I am the daughter of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother?
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
Torah, Hebrew Bible
Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner explains why Jews refer to their sacred text as Torah rather than as Old Testament.
All About Naming Your Jewish Daughter
Why should you give your Jewish baby girl a Hebrew name? What should you name your Jewish daughter? How are Jewish families today celebrating the births of their daughters?
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?
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.
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.
Jewish Bedtime Rituals for Children
Add a Jewish element to your child's bedtime routine with these books, songs and simple bedtime ritual ideas.
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.
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.
Jewish Calendar - When Did It Start
Rabbi Shraga Simmons explains when the Jewish calendar began.
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