Category: Continuity through Traditions, Symbols, Prayers, & Behaviors
How do Jewish rituals and practices enrich the way I experience my life and the world?
7 Unit(s), 32 Resource(s),
This unit is about Chanukah candles: how and why they are lit, the symbolic significance of lighting candles and the idea of spreading light and its cultural and personal significance.
The Why of Shabbat
What are the philosophical underpinnings of Shabbat observance that make it a critical area of religious observance throughout history? In this house this will be explored through the eyes of several contemporary Jewish thinkers.
The How of Shabbat
In this house the “how of shabbat observance” will be explored in all its complexity and diversity among the Jewish people today.
Shabbat – Rituals
This unit on Shabbat deals with the various ceremonies and rituals traditionally performed over the course of Shabbat – including candle lighting, kiddush (the blessing over the wine) and havdalah (the ceremony differentiating between Shabbat and the rest of the week).
A unit which deals with some basic underlying questions regarding prayer, including who prays, to whom one prays and the connection between prayer and faith. It also focuses on different types of prayer – shevach (prayers of praise), hodaya (prayers of thanks) and bakasha (prayers of request).
You Are What You Eat: Finding Meaning in the Laws of keeping Kosher
This Unit will familiarize learners with the concepts of kashrut, as well as expose them to the basic laws of keeping kosher. It will examine some of the rationales behind these laws and consider a broader understanding of kashrut and its relevance to Jewish values and contemporary ethics.
Just Remember: Symbols and Reminders in Judaism
All religions and cultures incorporate symbols and reminders into the norms of everyday life. In this unit, examples of these from Judaism will be presented, and the ideas and values they represent will be explored. Students will be encouraged to consider what their own connection and relationship can be in a 21st century context.
“Until One Cannot Distinguish”: The Limits of Joy and Celebration
Celebration has an honored place on Purim. We will learn about the reasons for this celebration, become familiar with different ways of encouraging joy and celebration on the holiday and examine the limits of celebration.
Shabbat as a Taster of the World to Come (the afterlife)
In this block we will look at three sources that compare the experience of observing shabbat to the World to Come (the afterlife).
Shabbat and Creation
In this block we will consider the connections between Shabbat and the Creation of the world.
Shabbat is the heart of Jewish life
In this block we will look at the historical, cultural, and sociological impact of shabbat observance on the Jewish people.
Shabbat and the Exodus
In this block we will consider the connections between Shabbat and the Exodus.
Shabbat is being in the present
In this block we will look at several sources who all approach shabbat as a means to pause and take stock, be present in the moment, and focus on ourselves.
The Spirit of Shabbat
In this block we will explore the overall theme of “rest” on shabbat as a way to maintain the spirit of shabbat.
Contemporary Approaches to Shabbat
In this block we will explore contemporary approaches to shabbat observance from various streams of Judaism that differ in some way from Orthodox observance.
Zachor – the “dos” of Shabbat
In this resource we will consider the positive aspects of Shabbat observance, including the positive mitzvot involved in an active Shabbat observance.
Shamor – the “do nots” of shabbat
In this block we will consider the classic Biblical and Talmudic sources for the prohibitions involved in shabbat observance.
First Fruits (Bikurim)
The mitzvah of bringing bikurim (first fruits) to the Holy Temple is referred to in the Torah as an act of gratitude to God for bringing us to the land of Israel. In this resource, we will discuss the importance of being grateful for the good things in our lives, the various ways in which we can express our feelings of gratitude, and the connection between gratitude and the first fruits.
The Enlightening Dispute Between Hillel and Shamai
This resource deals with the dispute between Beit Hillel (the school of Hillel the Elder) and Beit Shamai (the school of Shamai the Elder) over whether we should add or detract from the number of Chanukah candles that we light each night of the holiday. We will use their dispute to discuss the value of debate in Jewish tradition and the concept of “machloket l’shem shamayim” -“a dispute for the sake of heaven”.
This resource deals with the mitzvah of lighting candles on Chanukah and its symbolic significance.
Holding back: How Kashrut teaches social and moral self-discipline
In the “Are there health benefits (for body and soul) to keeping kosher?” block the potential physical and spiritual health benefits to observing the laws of kashrut were considered. In this block we will explore possible sociological, psychological, and ethical reasons behind the laws of kashrut.
For the body or the soul: Possible reasons for keeping kosher
The laws of keeping kosher have no immediately obvious rationale behind them. Yet we assume that observance of all the mitzvot in the Torah are beneficial to us. Therefore, for generations, Jewish thinkers have formulated various approaches to the benefits of keeping kosher. In this lesson we consider four approaches to the physical and spiritual benefits of observing the laws of kashrut.
Introducing the Laws of Kashrut
What does it mean to keep kosher? There are a multitude of complicated laws that are the starting point to answering that question, and in this lesson we will look at their sources.
Wearing a Kippah as a Symbol
In this lesson, the custom to wear a kippah is explored through talmudic and through talmudic and modern sources, taking a specific focus on the kippah as an expression of Jewish identity.
Tzitzit as a Symbol
In this lesson, the symbolism of the mitzvah of Tzitzit will be examined, through looking at the biblical source for the mitzvah, and then exploring different approaches through talmudic and modern voices.
Mezuzah as a Symbol
In this lesson, the symbolism of the mitzvah of Mezuza will be examined, through looking at one of the biblical sources for the mitzvah, and then exploring different approaches through talmudic, medieval, and contemporary voices.
Tefillin as a Symbol
In this lesson, the symbolism of the mitzvah of Tefillin will be examined, through looking at the biblical source for the mitzvah, exploring a national symbolism of Tefillin in a medieval commentary on the Torah, and a more personal approach taken by a modern thinker and a teen author.
What the Bible says on remembering the Exodus
In this lesson the themes of the Exodus in Judaism and Jewish history are explored, including the importance to remember the Exodus, and the lasting impact that this experience has had on Jewish national memory, on the Jewish psyche, ethics, and living.
This resource discusses the relationship between music and prayer that enables a full range of emotions, feelings and the body to be more completely expressed during prayer.
Birchot Hanehenin (“Blessings of Enjoyment”)
Birchot Hanehenin (“Blessings of Enjoyment”) are blessings of gratitude recited over things given to us by the world and from which we derive pleasure.
In this resource, we will discuss how we can observe the natural world from a place of wonder and thereby feel gratitude for the good in our lives.
The prayer Modeh Ani (I am thankful), which is said upon waking up, teaches us about the importance of gratitude and acknowledging the good in our lives. Gratitude is so important that the tradition taught that this prayer should be the first thing Jews say as they begin the day.
Birchot Ha-Shachar – The Morning Blessings
Birchot ha-Shachar – the Morning Blessings – are a series of blessings that accompany the various actions we perform on waking in the morning. They express gratitude and encourage awareness and mindfulness during our daily routine.
Lighting Shabbat Candles
Lighting Shabbat candles is a ceremony that takes place at the beginning of Shabbat and is effectively how we bring in Shabbat.
We will use the song “Little Gifts” to discuss the special time on Friday as Shabbat approaches and the gifts these hours can give us.
Welcoming Shabbat – Kiddush
We will examine the Kiddush ritual, said over wine and Challah. We will discuss the blessings and the actions they accompany.
Spice of Shabbat
We will read a rabbinic story to discuss the various elements that create a special atmosphere on Shabbat.
Shabbat – Time To Contemplate Anew
Shabbat offers an opportunity to rest from the hectic pace of the week and to take a fresh look at our lives. We will study a text by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan regarding this aspect of Shabbat.
Shabbat – A Palace in Time
Abraham Joshua Heschel compares Shabbat to a “palace in time” – a superior and special place we come to once a week.
The First Shabbat
On the seventh day, God rested from the work of Creation.
The seventh day of Creation was designated as a day of rest — Shabbat. From the description of Shabbat in the Creation story, we will learn about how God rested and we will explore how we rest from our weekday routines.