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Judaism: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
What Do Jewish People Celebrate on Shavuot?
Learn about the origins of Shavuot as well as modern day customs for celebrating this holiday.
Ayla, Dorona, Eliora, and More Popular Hebrew...
Hebrew names for girls beginning with the English letters A-E, along with their meanings.
Asher, Chavivi, Gilad and More Popular Hebrew...
Hebrew boys' names beginning with the letters A-G along with their meanings.
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.
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.
If Jews tend to be lactose intolerant, why all...
If there's one thing everyone knows about the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, it's that Jews eat lots of dairy. But why do Jews eat dairy on Shavuot?
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
What Is the Star of David's Significance in...
Learn more about the origin and meaning of the Star of David.
Choose a Hebrew Boy's Name (N-Z)
Hebrew boys names beginning with the letters N-Z.
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...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: Chai
How to Use the Yiddish Word 'Verklempt'
Verklempt is a Yiddish word that means
How to Light Yahrzeit (Memorial) Candles
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >What is a Yahrzeit
Why Do Some Jews Spell 'God' as 'G-d?'
An explanation of why some Jews write G-d instead of spelling out the word
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.
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.
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.
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?
What Does It Really Mean to Be 'Jewish?'
Is Judaism a race, a religion or a nationality?
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.
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.
Jewish Definitions: What Are the Five Books of...
The Five Books of Moses are the biblical books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
Hanukkah Songs: Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages)
Maoz Tzur is a traditional Hanukkah song that is usually sung to the tune of an old German folk melody.
Why Do Some Jewish Women Cover Their Hair?
In Judaism, Orthodox women cover their hair beginning when they get married. But why?
Why Jewish Men Wear Yarmulkes
After the Star of David, a kippah is one of the most recognizable symbols of Jewish identity.
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 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.
What Is Midrash?
Midrash is a form of rabbinic literature. There are two types of midrash: midrash aggada and midrash halakha.
When a Jewish Person Calls You a Mensch, What...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: Mensch
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 Jewish People Became the Chosen People
A look at different interpretations of what it means for Jews to be the Chosen People.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
The Hebrew Language
Learn about the history of Hebrew as an ancient language and the development of Hebrew as a modern language today.
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 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.
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.
What Does the Brit Milah (Bris) Signify for...
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How Do Jews Count the 49 Days Between Passover...
Learn what it means to count the Omer and how this tradition is based on an ancient Jewish custom.
What It Means When You Say 'Mazel Tov!'
mazel tov definition yiddish glossary jewish sayings hebrew phrases
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
Your Guide to the Most Common Yiddish Words and...
Definition of Yiddish words and expressions.
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 Candles Symbolize in Judaism
Candles have many symbolic meanings in Judaism and are used on a wide variety of religious occasions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What Does It Mean to 'Become a Bar Mitzvah?'
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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?
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.
Brew the coffee! It's time for all-night...
On Shavuot, many Jews participate in all-night Torah study as part of their celebration of the holiday that God gave the Five Books of Moses to the 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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
How to Be a Mensch
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >One of the amazing
Jewish Contributions to Society
Find a small list of contributions Jewish people have made to society, from Galileo to Levi Strauss.
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.
What Do Jews Believe? Check Out the 13...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Written in the
What Is Yizkor?
Yizkor, which means remembrance in Hebrew, is Judaism's memorial prayer.
Shavuot Message
Dr. Jonathan Mirvis, International Director of the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School Institute, writes about the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Given the threat of assimilation and the importance of strengthening Jewish identity today, Shavuot – one of the least known and celebrated Jewish holidays - should be used to educate Jews about the importance of Jewish peoplehood, Judaism and Israel.
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.
What Do Jews Eat Hamentaschen Pastries During...
Hamentaschen are triangular-shaped pastries that are traditionally eaten during the Jewish holiday of Purim.
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 is Teshuvah?
Teshuvah is a key Jewish concept that involves repentance and new beginnings.
Rocks on Graves - Conservative Judaism
Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner explains why Jews put rocks on graves.
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
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 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.
Jewish Bedtime Rituals for Children
Add a Jewish element to your child's bedtime routine with these books, songs and simple bedtime ritual ideas.
Jewish Holiday Calendar 5774
This calendar contains the 2013-2014 Gregorian calendar dates for all Jewish and Israeli holidays, festivals, and days of mourning.
Ask the Rabbi - Seven
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers a question about the number seven in Judaism.
Ask the Rabbi - Clothing Worn by Jews
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers a question about clothing worn by Jews.
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.
Why Bad Things Happen to Good People - Judaism
Judaism can explain why bad things happen to good people - including murder.
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
Hebrew Names for Boys
Use this list of popular Biblical names and modern Israeli names to find a Hebrew name for your son.
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.
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 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.
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 Leviathan?
The Leviathan is a mythical sea monster or dragon that is mentioned in Job 41.
Shavuot and Torah
Shavuot, in addition to being a harvest festival, commemorates the Giving of the Torah (Matan Torah) to the Jewish People on Mount Sinai.
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.
Sex in Judaism
What does Judaism's view on sex?
Jewish Views of the Afterlife: What is Gan Eden?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >In addition to
What Does the Word 'Shomer' Mean to Jews?
What does it mean when someone is shomer kashrut or shomer shabbat?
Do You Know How to Count the Omer?
For 50 days starting from the second day of Passover, Jews the world over count the omer, culminating with the holiday of Shavuot. Do you know how to count the omer?
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.
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.
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
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?
Becoming a Bat Mitzvah
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Bat Mitzvah literally
Ask the Rabbi - Reasons for Keeping Kosher
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers a question about why Jews keep kosher.
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.
Looking for a meaningful bar mitzvah gift?...
If you're celebrating, chances are you're going to want to get a meaningful gift for the bar mitzvah. Here are some of our suggestions!
Jewish Leaders - Abraham
Abraham was the first Jew, the Father of the Jewish People.
Ask the Rabbi -Hebrew Calendar and Jubilee Year
Rabbi Shraga Simmons answers questions about the Hebrew calendar and the counting of the Jubilee Year.
Jewish View of Intermarriage
What is the Jewish view of intermarriage? Why are Jews opposed to intermarriage? How do the various denominations of Judaism differ in their attitudes toward intermarriage?
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.
Who Was Meyer Lansky?
The life of the man sometimes referred to as the “Mob’s Accountant.”
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.
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.
Kosher Sex - Chat with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
What is kosher sex? This Internet Chat transcript records answers from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach about sex in Judaism.
The Shalosh Regalim: Trek to Jerusalem for the...
Known as the shalosh regalim, the three pilgrimage festivals include Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot.
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?
How to Perform Havdalah
An introduction to havdalah, a beautiful ritual that brings Shabbat to an end.
Latkes: All About the Traditional Hanukkah...
Latkes are potato pancakes that are traditionally fried in oil as part of the Hanukkah holiday celebration.
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.
What Is a Bracha?
This article explains what a bracha is and also gives examples of different kinds of brachot.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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!
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.
Significance of the Jewish Holiday of Lag Ba'Omer
Lag Ba'Omer is a minor Jewish holiday that falls between Passover and Shavuot.
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.
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.
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)?
Shomer Negiah: To touch or not to touch?
Curious why she won't shake your hand? A foreign concept in a modern, tactile world, shomer negiah is a basic observance of Orthodox Jews everywhere.
Kosher Slaughtering of Animals
Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner explains how Jews try to minimize an animal's suffering through kosher slaughtering.

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