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12 Items Used for Jewish Holidays and Celebrations

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The traditions and practices of Jewish people involve them using a wide range of items, often referred to as Judaica. Basically, they are ritual items. A lot of individuals like using or collecting these ornamental objects, which allow them to honor the entire concept of hiddur mitzvah. If you are interested in learning more about the items used for Jewish holidays and celebrations, this article might help you learn what the objects are, as well as when and how Jewish families use them. Keep in mind that you can buy most of the items listed below in almost all Judaica shops, as well as from online retail shops. Let’s take a closer look at the list:

1. Havdalah Candles

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These candles are totally different from the ones used in other religions – they are braided and they feature multiple wicks. Havdalah means “separation” and it symbolizes the transitional period from the end of Sabbath and the start of a new week. They come in a wide range of colors, however, the most popular color combinations are blue and white, as well as red and white.

2. Menorah or Hannukiyah

The Hannukkah menorah is a candle holder featuring 9-stems used to hold 8 candles and 1 shamash candle which is the “helper candle” used specifically for that holiday. Although it looks quite similar to the menorahs used in Jerusalem temples, however, those hold only seven candles. This menorah represents the “miracle” that is the staple of the holiday. If you do not know what happened, the story goes like this – the mysterious thing occurred when oil that was meant to last for only 1 day burned for 8 days straight. That is why this candleholder has 8 primary stems.

3. Mezuzah

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A mezuzah is a small crate that contains paragraphs from the Books of Moses. The paragraphs are all handwritten on paper. It is usually positioned on the right side of the door used for entering a home. The crate often features the letter, Shin. The tradition of placing the box derives from the Torah, so, most Jewish families have one in their homes.

4. Seder Plates

If you will attend a Passover dinner, you will be able to see these plates on the dining room table. The plates usually hold 4 to 5 objects that represent a part of the holiday theme. Now, families will not place objects, but food on it. The food placed is might be different for every family, however, there are five foods that are often placed – a shank bone, egg, bitter herbs, vegetables, a haroset.

5. A Spice Box

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These spice box sets are usually made from silver and people use them for holding sweet, fragrant spices. In their language, the spices are named besamim and during the service that symbolizing the end of Sabbat, individuals smell the spices. Cloves are what most people opt for, however, some communities might use other plants as well.

6. Tallit Robes

These robes are manufactured from wool. They are traditional men garments that are specifically used during prayers, however, in some communities, women are allowed to wear the robes, mostly as a clothing choice. Tallit can be found, provided, and borrowed from a church, but, most individuals love to have one or several at their homes. If you want to see what tallit options there are, check out jewish.shop.

7. Tzitzit

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These items are tassels which are attached to the corners of the, previously mentioned, tallit. Some Jewish men prefer to place them on their undergarments that are called tzitzit, and are more commonly known as tallit katan. Like a tallit, men usually attach them to their robe, and the tradition originated from their Transcript.

8. Kippah

It is a cap worn for Jewish traditional celebrations, although some Jewish people choose to keep the kippah on during an entire day. In the past, the caps were only reserved for men, however, nowadays, you can also see women wearing the caps as well. They come in a wide range of shapes, colors, designs, and sizes, but, most people opt for wearing a brown, black, or gray kippah.

9. Matzah Cover

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Back to the Passover dinner traditions, matzah is a cloth used for covering the bread made specifically for the occasion. It is usually white, and you can also find different ones featuring various symbols, letters, and decorations. Matzah represents the time when Jews had to leave Egypt in a hurry, which means that the bread did not have time to rise. It also commemorates the first seder meal.

10. Torah Scrolls

These scrolls reference the Five Books of Moses. Jewish people also know it under the names Chumash or Pentateuch. The references are all handwritten and are read out loud during holiday celebrations, praying, and on Sabbath. Now, in some communities, the scrolls are connected to two rolls made from wood, it is covered with ornamental velvet, and some people choose to top it with a silver decorative piece called rimonim. In other communities, they choose to place it in a glass casing.

11. Challah Covers

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Similarly to the Matzah cover, an opaque cloth is usually created from decorated velvet, however, other materials can be made for manufacturing it as well. During Sabbath dinners, the cloth is placed on top of the bread which can only be uncovered when the head of the family says the blessing over red wine.

12. Dreidel

Now, this one is perfect for children. This toy features the letters Nun, Shin, Hey, and Gimmel. They create an abbreviation for the expression “A great miracle happened there”, however, in some Israeli toy versions, “there” is replaced with “here”. This is the most common toy kids enjoy playing with during this holiday celebration.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are various objects used for making Jewish holidays even more meaningful and special. Hence, if you need to go to a Passover dinner or if you are going to attend any other holiday, any item from this list will make a good present for your hosts and their families.



Peter is a freelance writer with more than eight years of experience covering topics in politics. He was one of the guys that were here when the foreignpolicyi.org started.

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