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Ritual Objects

wimple

A decorative garment in the form of a long sash made from the baby's swaddling cloth. In pre-Shoah (pre-Holocasut) Eastern Europe, fabric from the clothing that swaddled an infant at his b'rit milah was made into a wimple that could be used as a Torah binder. The wimple was used to wrap the Torah at the child's consecration and at his bar mitzvah, and was included in the fabric to make the wedding chuppah. Almost extinguished during the Shoah, the tradition of the wimple has been revived in contemporary Jewish culture. Now, Jewish parents and grandparents make wimples for both boys and girls. Sometimes the wimple is still made from the swaddling cloth. More commonly now, the baby is swaddled in the wimple itself.

tefillin

Alternate Spelling: 

t'filin

"Phylacteries." Leather boxes and straps worn by religious Jews daily except on Shabbat, holidays, and fast days. "Laying tefillin" is the expression commonly used for putting them on.

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yad

Literally, “hand.”  The pointer, often a hand with the index finger extended, used by the Torah reader to keep one’s place in the scroll and to avoid touching the ink on the scroll.

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mezuzah

Literally, “doorpost;” a decorative case that holds a handwritten parchment scroll of the Shema and V’ahavta. Mezuzot are placed on external and internal doorposts of homes to fulfill the commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5-9 “inscribe them [these words] on the doorposts of your house.”

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Kippah

Alternate Spelling: 

kippa

A head-covering often worn during worship and while in a sanctuary, although some people choose to wear a kippah all the time; plural: kippot. In Orthodox communities, only men and boys wear kippot, while in liberal Jewish communities some women and girls choose to wear kippot.  Also called a yarmulke (Yiddish) or skullcap.  

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Torah

Literally “instruction” or “teaching.” The first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy); the handwritten scroll that contains the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Also called the Pentateuch and The Five Books of Moses. “Torah” is also used to refer to the entire body of Jewish religious teachings and insight. 

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