Why are holidays, rituals, customs, important to me, my family, and my community?
7 Unit(s), 28 Resource(s), 1 Teaching Tool(s)
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.
This unit on Shabbat focuses on the songs and melodies that accompany Shabbat – during rituals and prayers, as well as modern-day songs.
Passover: Seder Night and the Haggadah
This unit discusses the various aspects of Seder night – the structure of the Haggadah, the Seder plate, and selected texts from the Maggid section.
Shabbat – A Day of Rest and Holiness
This unit discusses the uniqueness of Shabbat as a day of rest from work and a day that is different from other days of the week.
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).
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.
Sitting in the sukkah (also referred to as “settling” or “dwelling” in the sukkah) is the main commandment on the holiday of Sukkot. In this resource, we will learn about the sukkah and will become familiar with its symbolism and the values learned from it.
Megillat Rut (The book of Ruth) – Being a Jew
Megillat Rut (The Book of Ruth) tells the story of Ruth’s choice to become part of the Jewish people. In this lesson, we will discuss the significance of Judaism for us and the choices we make surrounding this topic.
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.
The Four “Memim”: Purim Customs and Traditions
This resource deals with the four main customs on Purim – mishteh (a feast), mikra megillah (reading Megillat Esther), matanot l’evyonim (gifts to the poor) and mishloach manot (gifts to friends) – and the values of mutual responsibility reflected in them.
Sukkah and Memory
In this unit, we’ll learn about the roles and importance of holiday symbols, including their significance on the personal and family level and their significance for the collective memory of the Jewish people, with an emphasis on the sukkah.
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.
Ma Nishtana – the Four Questions
In this resource, we will learn about the Four Questions section of the Haggadah. We will become familiar with the examples that appear in the text and explore the significance of asking questions on Seder night.
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.
The Shabbat Queen
We will read the poem “The Shabbat Queen” by Chaim Nachman Bialik to learn about the main aspects of Shabbat and the ceremonies and customs of the day, in the order of their occurrence from Friday evening through sunset on Saturday.
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.
Havdalah – Saying Good-Bye to Shabbat
We’ll learn about the havdalah ceremony and its different components.
Feeling Shabbat – People Creating Holiness
We will use a Hassidic story to discuss the power of symbols and human actions to create an atmosphere of Shabbat.
Kiddush and Kedusha
We’ll become familiar with the Kiddush blessing that is said on Friday evening. We’ll look at the concept of kedusha (holiness), in general, and the kedusha of Shabbat, in particular.
The Blessing for Sons and Daughters
We’ll learn about the blessing for sons and daughters that is said in many families on Friday evenings.