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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.
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.
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.
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.
Bar Mitzvahs for Beginners
This article is about the religious ceremony and party referred to as a bar mitzvah.
What Is the Star of David's Significance in...
Learn more about the origin and meaning of the Star of David.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Girl's Name (R-Z)
Hebrew names for girls beginning with the English letters R-Z, as well as their meanings.
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.
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
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
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?
How to Use the Yiddish Word 'Verklempt'
Verklempt is a Yiddish word that means
Why Do Some Jewish Women Cover Their Hair?
In Judaism, Orthodox women cover their hair beginning when they get married. But why?
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.
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 Does It Really Mean to Be 'Jewish?'
Is Judaism a race, a religion or a nationality?
How to Light Yahrzeit (Memorial) Candles
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >What is a Yahrzeit
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?
Why Jewish Men Wear Yarmulkes
After the Star of David, a kippah is one of the most recognizable symbols of Jewish identity.
How Jewish People Became the Chosen People
A look at different interpretations of what it means for Jews to be the Chosen People.
What Does the Brit Milah (Bris) Signify for...
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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.
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,
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.
Jewish Jokes - A Priest and a Rabbi
temptations of the flesh rabbi temptation lt faith: Glossary of Jewish Jokes
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.
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.
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).
Jewish Definitions: What Are the Five Books of...
The Five Books of Moses are the biblical books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mark Your Calendar! It's the 2014-15 Jewish...
This calendar contains the 2014-15 Gregorian calendar dates for all Jewish and Israeli holidays, festivals, and days of mourning.
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 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 Is Midrash?
Midrash is a form of rabbinic literature. There are two types of midrash: midrash aggada and midrash halakha.
Jewish Views of the Afterlife: What is Gan Eden?
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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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jewish Leaders - Abraham
Abraham was the first Jew, the Father of the Jewish People.
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?
Jewish Contributions to Society
Find a small list of contributions Jewish people have made to society, from Galileo to Levi Strauss.
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.
How to Be a Mensch
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What It Means When You Say 'Mazel Tov!'
mazel tov definition yiddish glossary jewish sayings hebrew phrases
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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?
Branches of 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.
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.
Who Was Meyer Lansky?
The life of the man sometimes referred to as the “Mob’s Accountant.”
Can Jewish conversions be annulled?
For converts to Judaism, one of the most pressing topics is the risk of having a conversion annulled. But is it even a possibility under Jewish law?
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.
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.
Every seven years, the land in Israel rests. So...
Every seven years, farmers who own land in Israel fulfill the mitzvah of shmita by taking a year off from working their land. What is this ancient and rare mitzvah (commandment)?
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.
What Candles Symbolize in Judaism
Candles have many symbolic meanings in Judaism and are used on a wide variety of religious occasions.
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.
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 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 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 Do Jews Eat Hamentaschen Pastries During...
Hamentaschen are triangular-shaped pastries that are traditionally eaten during the Jewish holiday of Purim.
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
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.
Ask the Rabbi - Clothing Worn by Jews
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers a question about clothing worn by Jews.
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.
The Hebrew Language
Learn about the history of Hebrew as an ancient language and the development of Hebrew as a modern language today.
Jewish Views of the Afterlife: What Is Gehenna?
According to Jewish tradition Gehenna is an afterlife realm where the souls of the unrighteous are punished.
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.
Hebrew Names for Boys
Use this list of popular Biblical names and modern Israeli names to find a Hebrew name for your son.
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.
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?
What Do Jewish People Celebrate on Shavuot?
Learn about the origins of Shavuot as well as modern day customs for celebrating this holiday.
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
Jewish Bedtime Rituals for Children
Add a Jewish element to your child's bedtime routine with these books, songs and simple bedtime ritual ideas.
What Is a Kittel?
A unique white robe-like garment, the kittel is worn by Jews on special days and during specific lifecycle events.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
Now and then: What is a ger in Judaism?
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Do Jews Believe in Sin?
There are three kinds of sin in Judaism: sins against God, sins against another person, and sins against yourself.
Jewish Women - The Glass Mehitzah by Deborah...
Deborah Resnick writes about Jewish women breaking through barriers, like the mehitza.
How to Say 'Happy Jewish New Year' for Rosh...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >How do you say
Solomon - King of Israel
david and bathsheba king david and bathsheba copper smelting superpower status northern tribes: Biography of King Solomon.
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.
What is Teshuvah?
Teshuvah is a key Jewish concept that involves repentance and new beginnings.
Why Bad Things Happen to Good People - Judaism
Judaism can explain why bad things happen to good people - including murder.
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.
Judaism Glossary of Jewish Leaders
Learn who has led the Jewish People throughout the centuries through this Glossary of Jewish Leaders.
Sex in Judaism
What does Judaism's view on sex?
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.
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.
What Is the Leviathan?
The Leviathan is a mythical sea monster or dragon that is mentioned in Job 41.
How to Perform Havdalah
An introduction to havdalah, a beautiful ritual that brings Shabbat to an end.
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?
Meet Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel, a Jewish American...
Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel was a Jewish American mobster during the early to mid-1900's. Bugsy Siegel is also a character on HBO's
Your Guide to the Most Common Yiddish Words and...
Definition of Yiddish words and expressions.
Ask the Rabbi - Reasons for Keeping Kosher
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers a question about why Jews keep kosher.
Jewish Calendar - When Did It Start
Rabbi Shraga Simmons explains when the Jewish calendar began.
Jewish Characters on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire"
HBO's 'Boardwalk Empire' depicts several real-life Jewish characters, among them Arnold Rothstein, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel and Waxey Gordon.
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.
Can You Name the Seven Species of the Torah?
The Seven Species are the seven agricultural products associated with the ancient land of Israel as mentioned in the Torah.
Moses
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.
Second Generation
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. The intergenerational transmission of trauma is so strong that Holocaust-related influences can even be seen in the “Third Generation”, children of the children of survivors. Page 2.
Ask the Rabbi - Seven
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers a question about the number seven in Judaism.
Israeli Coins - Israeli Currency
Images of and information about modern Israeli coins.
Becoming a Bat Mitzvah
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Latkes: All About the Traditional Hanukkah...
Latkes are potato pancakes that are traditionally fried in oil as part of the Hanukkah holiday celebration.
What Are the Noahide Laws?
Many who are considering conversion to Judaism opt to commit to the seven Noahide Laws, the minimum moral duties required by the Torah for everyone.
Waxey Gordon
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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.
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 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.
Jewish Leaders - Rebecca
Rebecca was one of the Matriarchs (Imahot) of Judaism.
Top 5 Most Misunderstood Aspects of Judaism
If a rabbi blessed it, it must be kosher, right? Check out this and four other popular misunderstandings about Jews and Judaism.
How Jews Honor Loved Ones With the Mourner's...
The Mourner's Kaddish is a form of the Kaddish prayer that is recited in memory of a loved one who has passed away. Learn more about this prayer and when it is said in this article.
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.
What are the 613 commandments?
Most people are well aware of the 10 commandments, or mitzvot, but many do not know that Judaism has 603 additional commandments. Page 2.
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.
Resurrection
Resurrection was an important part of Rabbinic Jewish belief. The ancient rabbis believed the dead would be brought back to life at the end of days.
Jewish Baby Naming Ceremony for Girls
What should Christian grandparents say at the baby naming ceremony of our Jewish granddaughter?
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