ALTARPlace of offerings to God. The table in the Jewish home is
often seen as a substitute for the altar and many customs are derived
from this identification.
ARKThe enclosed structure, freestanding or built into the wall of
the synagogue, which houses the scrolls of the laws. The ark is placed
on the eastern wall of the synagoguetoward Jerusalemso that
worshipers will face the Torah and the Temple area in prayer.
Whenever a Torah scroll is taken out for the reading of the law, the
ark becomes the focus of a dramatic ceremony. Adorned with silver
crown, breastplate, and finial, the scroll is carried in a procession to
the reading desk, amid song and praise, as the congregation stands in
respect. During the reading of special prayers, worshipers also rise as
a mark of respect and stand while the ark remains open.
BIBLEThe common English designation for the Hebrew scriptures.
BIHAMAn elevated platform with a readers desk or table from
which the reading of the law and other liturgical functions are
conducted in the synagogue.
CANDLESLighting the Sabbath candles before sunset on Friday or
on the eve of the festivals is primarily done in the home. At least two
candles must be used.
At weddings, it is customary for fathers of the bride and groom to
accompany the groom down the aisle or to the chupa each holding a
lighted candle. The two mothers then accompany the bride, also
holding lighted candles.
A more general practice is lighting candles in rituals connected with
the dead, lamps and lights being symbolic of mans soul. Candles are
lit when a person dies, in the house of a bereaved family throughout
the 7 days of mourning, on the anniversary of the death of a close
relative, and on those days when memorial prayers for the dead are
recited in synagogue. It is also customary for a memorial light to be
kept burning throughout the Day of Atonement.
ETERNAL LIGHTA perpetually burning lamp used in Jewish
worship. The eternal light is electrified with a bulb whose encasement
and pendant chains are often elaborate.
FIVE SCROLLSThe biblical books: Song of Songs, Ruth,
Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther.
HALLOTSpecial loaf of bread for Sabbaths and festivals
HANUKKAH LAMPAlso known as a Hanukkah menorah; an
eight-branched candelabrum ritually lit in celebration of Hanukkah.
KIDDUSH CUPSA special or unique benediction cup.
MAGEN DAVIDThe shield of David, a hexagram or six-pointed
star formed by two superimposed equilateral triangles. This star of
David has become a distinctive Jewish symbol.
MENORAHCandelabrum, with seven branches.
MEZUZAHMeaning doorpost, the Mezuzah contains a small
scroll of parchment containing selected biblical passages. The
Mezuzah is traditionally affixed to the right-hand doorposts of the
Jewish home, synagogues, and public dwellings.
PENTATEUCHThe Torah or first five books of the Bible,
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
SHOFARA kind of trumpet producing distinctive notes and blown
ritually during the penitential season.
STAR OF DAVIDSee Magen David
SUKKAHThe booth erected for the Sukkot festival.
SYNAGOGUEThe central religious institution of Judaism, the
center for public prayer and for other religious and community
TABLES OF THE COVENANTA two stone tablet received by
Moses from God on Mount Sinai containing the written law or
TORAH ORNAMENTSTo honor and protect the Torah, Jewish
communities decorate the Scrolls of the Laws. The scroll has a cloth
mantle and a metal breastplate hung over the cloth mantle. The
rollers to which the parchment scroll is attached are made of wood
and are often topped with metal finials. Torah scrolls are adorned
by a keter, a crown that fits over the two rollers.
UNLEAVENED BREADAlso known as matsah, this bread is
made without leavening agents to be used during Passover.
YADPointer used to keep the place while reading from the Scroll
of the Law.
Figure 1-13A.Essential gear for Jewish worship.
AMULETSObjects worn or kept close to ones person as a protection
against evil, natural and supernatural. Amulets are normally inscribed
with blessings, names of God, names given to angels, the star of David,
a menorah, the hand, and squares and rectangles.
PRAYER SHAWLSee Tallit.
TALLITA four-cornered, fringed garment worn during certain
containing four biblical passages that male Jews from the age of 13
wear on the left arm and on the head during the weekday mourning
YARMULKESee covering the head.
Figure 1-13B.Essential garments for Jewish worship.