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Challah is one of the ways I “do” Judaism in a tangible way, my attempt at hidur mitzvah (beautifying the fulfillment of the commandment). Personalizing mitzvot is a way all of us can approach and enrich our connections to Judaism.
As Thomas Cahill teaches in his book “The Gift of the Jews” the great contribution that Judaism gave the world was to see time as linear, with beginnings and endings and stations along the way.
The Jewish New Year of the Trees, or Tu BiSh’vat, lends itself to many home observations and activities. Here are some ideas for crafts, planting, quiet activities, and more.
The Jewish mystics of the 17th century, the Kabbalists, created a special ritual—modeled after the Passover seder—to celebrate God's presence in nature. Today in modern Israel, Tu BiShvat has become a national holiday, a tree planting festivaTu BiShvat is not mentioned in the Torah. Scholars believe the holiday was originally an agricultural festival, corresponding to the beginning of spring in Israel. But a critical historical event helped Tu BiShvat evolve from a simple celebration of spring to a commemoration of our connection to the land of Israel. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. and the exile that followed, many of the exiled Jews felt a need to bind themselves symbolically to their former homeland. Tu BiShvat served in part to fill that spiritual need. Jews used this time each year to eat a variety of fruits and nuts that could be obtained from Israel. The practice, a sort of physical association with the land, continued for many centuries.l for both Israelis and Jews throughout the world
Although the celebration of Tu BiShvat has a long and varied history, the theme most commonly ascribed to the holiday today is the environment.
With your children, generate ideas and family activities that will fulfill these four mitzvot. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Not only is the Sabbath an integral part of the creation story, it is the only holiday mentioned in the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments appear twice in the Bible, and the Sabbath commandment is formulated somewhat differently in each instance.
Perhaps you’ve been to Shabbat services, and found them mystifying, or you've been invited to a bar mitzvah service and have no idea what to do. Here are some ways to get something out of the experience as a beginner.
I can still smell the Shabbatot of my childhood home. My mother's chicken roasting in the oven, the smoke from the match that ignited our Shabbat candles, the sweet raisin challah my father bought at Zaro's Bakery on his way home from work. Indeed, Shabbat at home is often sanctified through food, ritual, and familial togetherness.