Life lessons

Beautiful and Historic Synagogues Around the World - No Passport Required

Beautiful and Historic Synagogues Around the World - No Passport Required

Honestly, the concept for this post came from the idea of taking a vacation, which leads to "where to", which leads to "I wonder if there are any interesting Jewish historical sites to see there." Having been an Art History major (with architecture being a particular love of mine), this is not an unusual rabbit hole for me to fall into. Whether in person or virtually, if we're going to be traveling, why not take a look at some beautiful and historic synagogues around the world? Aside from the home, the most important symbol of Jewish life is the Synagogue, where...

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Jews and Voting in America

Jews and Voting in America

The United States was the first country where Jews were granted citizenship on par with everyone else., But even more importantly, the Constitution itself was distinct in that it created a secular state, a place that did not incorporate religion into its official identity. Everywhere Jews had lived, their religion had marked them as outsiders. In Europe, where the Catholic Church held sway, Jews were sometimes tolerated as tax collectors and money lenders, and therefore necessary to make the economy work. But just as often, they were persecuted as Christ-killers, forced to live in ghettos, or expelled, as happened in...

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8 Rosh Hashanah Facts, plus 8 Rosh Hashanah Greetings

8 Rosh Hashanah Facts, plus 8 Rosh Hashanah Greetings

~ The Rosh Hashanah Cliff Notes ~ What is Rosh Hashanah?Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish celebration of the New Year. When is Rosh Hashanah?Rosh Hashanah takes place on the first day of the Hebrew month Tishrei. In the Hebrew calendar, Tishrei is the seventh month of the year. What does Rosh Hashanah mean?The literal translation of "Rosh Hashanah" is "head of the year." Why is Rosh Hashanah important?Rosh Hashanah begins the leadup to Yom Kippur, some of the holiest days in the Hebrew year (known as "Days of Awe"). Rosh Hashanah celebrates God's creation of humankind and is sometimes viewed as...

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The History of Bat Mitzvahs

Bat Mitzvah

The History of Bat Mitzvahs

Jewish tradition ordains that girls automatically reach religious maturity at the age of twelve. But historically a girl’s transition from child to adult was not marked communally, either in or outside a synagogue. Women had no part in the public reading of the Torah, except as listeners, segregated in the women’s gallery. Thus, when bat mitzvah emerged as a regularized rite in the Jewish lifecycle of a girl, the procedure varied from synagogue to synagogue and evolved over time. For American Jews, this process famously began in 1922 (two years after women were guaranteed the right to vote in the...

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Breaking the Glass at a Jewish Wedding

Breaking the Glass at a Jewish Wedding

The conclusion of the ceremony is marked by the groom (and sometimes the bride now) stamping on a glass and smashing it underfoot. It is the official signal to cheer, dance, shout “Mazel Tov!” and start partying!   Aside from this, what does it mean?As in all things Jewish, there are a variety of interpretations, here are a few: A representation of the fragility of human relationships and a reminder that marriage will change your life (hopefully for the good) forever. A superstition that the loud noise is supposed to drive away evil spirits. A break with the past: the marriage...

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