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Resources and articles on Jewish Symbols

The Passover Haggadah:  Tell and Show

The Haggadah, from the Hebrew root "to tell" (he-gid), emphasizing its narrative nature, has actually been printed in more editions and languages than any other Jewish book. Pomerantz introduces us to different Haggadot. [Full article...]
By: Batsheva Pomerantz
Judaism > Holidays with a Twist > Pesach
Judaism > Jewish Symbols
Judaism > Jewish Texts


The Rosenbaum Mezuzah Collection:  A Case for the Mezuzah

Batsheva Pomerantz introduces the reader to the mezuzah collection displayed at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem while providing information on the historical, religious, and cultural significance of the mezuzah. [Full article...]
By: Batsheva Pomerantz
Judaism > Jewish Symbols


Jewish Symbols:  The Magen David

When thinking of Jewish symbols, one of the first to come to mind is the Magen David. However, the Magen David was not always a Jewish symbol. The Magen David or the hexagram [six-sided figure] was found in early remains of the Nabateans from the first century. It appeared in Israel in the second century CE at Kfar Nahum alongside pentagrams [five-sided figure] and other designs but seemingly without any symbolic overtones. [Full article...]
By: Maxine Blendis
Judaism > Jewish Symbols


Jewish symbols:  The Dreidel

One of the best known symbols of Chanukah is the dreidel, also called a "s'vivon," in Hebrew. A dreidel is a four-sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side. Dreidel is a derivative of a German word meaning "top," and the game is an adaptation of an old German gambling game. Hanukkah was one of the few times of the year when the rabbis permitted games of chance. [Full article...]
By: Anton Marks
Judaism > Holidays with a Twist > Chanukah
Judaism > Jewish Symbols


Jewish Symbols:  The Menorah

One of the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith is the menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum used in the Temple. The kohanim lit the menorah in the Sanctuary every evening and cleaned it out every morning, replacing the wicks and putting fresh olive oil into the cups. Our Sages explain that the purpose of the menorah was not to illuminate the Sanctuary, but rather to spread its light throughout the entire world. For this purpose, the windows of the Temple were constructed in a unique manner, wide on the outside, narrow on the inside, clearly indicating that their purpose was for the light of the Temple to shine outward. [Full article...]
By: Anton Marks
Judaism > Holidays with a Twist > Chanukah
Judaism > Jewish Symbols


Jewish Symbols:  Challah

A special feature of the three Shabbat meals is the Shabbat loaf of bread, or challah. Each Shabbat meal begins, as do all meals, by saying the blessing for bread. [Full article...]
By: Anton Marks
Judaism > Holidays with a Twist > Shabbat
Judaism > Jewish Symbols


Jewish Symbols:  The Shabbat Candles

The original function of Shabbat candles was a practical one. They were intended to enhance the enjoyment of the day by improving visibility. The sages realized that the domestic peace (shalom bayit) appropriate to the holy day would be diminished if members of the household were constantly stumbling over one another in the darkness. [Full article...]
By: Anton Marks
Judaism > Holidays with a Twist > Shabbat
Judaism > Jewish Symbols


Jewish Symbols:  Havdalah

As Shabbat left with the evening darkness, our sages must have regarded that departure as a time of foreboding, a waning of holiness, as the week's trials approached. The ceremony of Havdalah, which means distinction or separation, was created not only to consciously separate the special time from the approaching regular time, but to send us into the coming week with the experience of Shabbat still lingering, "a good week, a week of peace". [Full article...]
By: Anton Marks
Judaism > Jewish Symbols


Jewish Symbols:  The Kippa (Plural Kippot) = Covering in Hebrew

Today we accept that a religious Jew will wear a covering of some sort on his head. Even one who does not practice orthodoxy may choose to cover his head during a religious ceremony. Many of us probably picture Moses with a big black Kippah perched in the center of his head - actually as the greatest Jewish philosopher said, "it ain't necessarily so." [Full article...]
By: Eli Birnbaum
Judaism > Jewish Symbols


Jewish Symbols:  The Mezuzah

According to a recent Israeli Poll over 93% of all Israeli households have a mezuzah stuck on the right side of their door-posts. What's amazing is that only about 30% of the Israeli population calls themselves "religious." Is it just a superstition? Can it have the same effect as garlic and vampires, the cross and Dracula, a bath and my kids? [Full article...]
By: Eli Birnbaum
Judaism > Jewish Symbols


:  Israeli Bannerisms

White has always been a symbol of purity and freshness. The plain white background of the flag is reminiscent of a clean and untainted piece of paper, representing a new beginning. The blue could be symbolic of the Jewish understanding of one's place and function in the world. [Full article...]
By: Robin Treistman
Judaism > Jewish Symbols


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