Why/how might Jewish practices be meaningful for me even if I don’t define myself as “religious”?
10 Unit(s), 28 Resource(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.
Topics in Prayer
There are several aspects of traditional Jewish prayer that relate to the development of prayer as a fixed ritual, and some that are related to prayer as a ritual that takes place with others. This unit deals with the topic of praying in a minyan (a quorum of ten people), prayer formulas and the importance of intention in prayer.
Central Jewish Prayers
This unit focuses on some of the central prayers in the siddur (Jewish prayer book), including: Birchot ha-shachar (the morning blessings), the Shema, the Amidah and more.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
What is Prayer?
In this resource, we’ll explore prayer: what is said, to whom it is directed, what we pray for and when we pray. We’ll broaden our view of prayer through the study of the prayer-poem “A Walk to Caesarea” by Hannah Senesh.
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.
We will learn the song that is traditionally sung on Friday night. The song blesses the angels which, according to Jewish legend, accompany us on Shabbat.
Welcoming Shabbat – Kiddush
We will examine the Kiddush ritual, said over wine and Challah. We will discuss the blessings and the actions they accompany.
Oneg Shabbat — Delighting in Shabbat
We will learn about what it means to delight in Shabbat, in light of the traditional commentary on the verse “and you call Shabbat a delight.”
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.