Showcasing Jewish Heritage and Traditions

Judaism is a religion replete with many traditions connected to its holidays, rituals, life cycle observances, and its connection to Israel. The Jewish people celebrate their culture and religion with a variety of symbols, items, foods, and activities. Prayer and study of Jewish texts are central to Jewish life as are learning about and doing acts of loving-kindness (Chesed) and repairing the world (Tikkun Olam). 

Are you curious about these Jewish objects? Learn about some of them Here.

Do You Know?

Click on a question to see the answer.

1. Do you know how many New Years there are on the Jewish calendar?


1. The Jewish calendar is a lunar/ solar calendar that was calculated to keep Jewish holidays in their proper season on the calendar. There are 12 months with Hebrew names and a leap year every few years. There are 4 New Years during each calendar year: 1st Tishrei: Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish year. This is actually the 7th month of the Jewish calendar. 2. 15th Shevat: Tu B’shevat, New Year for trees when the sap starts to flow in the trees in Israel. It has developed into an ecological holiday, reminding us that we are commanded to take care of our world.
3. 1st Nissan: The first month of the year. Celebrating redemption from Egypt. Passover occurs during this month.
4. 1st Elul: Tithing of cattle during the time of the Temple in Jerusalem.




2. Do you know what the 3 Pilgrimage holidays are and why they are called that?


Shalosh Regalim, the 3 pilgrimage festivals: Succot in the Fall, Passover in the early Spring, and 7 weeks later Shavuot. During these festivals, the Israelites in ancient Israel, during the time of the 1st and 2nd Temples, would travel to Jerusalem to make sacrifices as described in the Torah.




3. Do you know why the Torah scroll is kept in a special place in a synagogue and the scroll’s parchment is not touched?


The Torah (first 5 of 24 books in the Hebrew Bible) scroll is hand-written on parchment by a specially trained scribe. It is kept in the synagogue in a special “Holy Ark”. Out of respect, and to care for the scroll, we cover it with a special mantle and adorn it as well. We read it with a “yad” a Torah pointer shaped with a finger at its end so that we don’t touch the parchment. During prayer services on Shabbat and major holidays, the Torah is taken from the Ark and carried around the congregation. Many congregants reach toward it and touch it gently, often with a prayer shawl or prayer book.




4. Do you know what Jews do to show “chesed”, loving kindness and “tikkun olam”, repairing the world?


Jews are often in the forefront of social justice issues, a focal point of our tradition, During the Passover Seder, we are reminded of our having been slaves in Egypt and that we must know the heart of those who are enslaved in our own day.
Therefore, Jews are taught in the Talmud that the following are commandments without measure:
Honoring one’s father and mother
Acts of love and kindness
Diligent pursuit of knowledge and wisdom
Hospitality to strangers
Celebrating with bride and groom
Consoling the bereaved
Praying with sincerity and making peace where there is strife
And the study of Torah leads to them all.





 

The Augusta Jewish Museum has many more stories to tell.

Please come see us when the AJM opens in early 2021.

1. Challah—An “egg” (and yeast) bread. Usually made without milk and used on the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays. It is usually braided. For the High Holy Days, the challah is round-shaped and made with raisins. Often topped with poppy or sesame seeds.  A blessing is said before eating: “Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.” Some Jews may salt the bread as a reminder of the sacrifices made in the Ancient Temple.

2. Chanukah Menorah—A Chanukiah is a candelabrum that holds 9 candles; 8 celebrate each day of the holiday and an additional candle that is used to light the others each night of the holiday. More Information

3. Kippah—skullcap, also referred to as a yarmulke in Yiddish.  Traditionally worn by men as a sign of respect for God. Today it may also be worn by some women.  Wearing a kippah is a sign of reverence for God when praying, studying the Torah, saying a blessing, or entering a synagogue. Some men wear a kippah all the time.

4. Kiddush cup—A ceremonial goblet (or cup) used when the Kiddush is recited during holidays. The Kiddush is the prayer said over wine (or grape juice) as Jews are commanded to sanctify the Sabbath and holidays.

5. Matzah—Unleavened bread. Often referred to as the bread of affliction. Traditionally eaten during Passover, it symbolizes the “bread” that the Israelites made when leaving Egypt and without having time to let the bread rise as they had to leave in a hurry. Matzah is to the right of the Challah.

6. Mezuzah—Hebrew for doorpost; a piece of parchment with verses from Deuteronomy put in a decorative case and placed on the doorpost of a house and may also be placed on the doorposts of rooms in which we “live” (not including bathrooms and kitchen).

 

7. Seder plate—A plate used during the Passover seder ceremony on which the symbols of the holidays are placed. (Bitter herbs, roasted egg, parsley, charoset (a paste made to look like the mortar with which the Jews built during slavery In Egypt), shank bone, horseradish).

 

8. Shofar—a ram’s horn blown with various types of blasts during the High Holy Days in remembrance of the biblical story of the binding of Isaac. The sounding of the shofar is mentioned frequently in the Bible and is blown daily during the Hebrew month of Elul which precedes the High Holy Days.

9. Tallit—prayer shawl with fringes on the 4 corners (tzitzit) as described in the Torah and used during morning prayer services.

 

10. Torah pointer “yad”—Shaped like a hand (yad) at its end,  this pointer is used when reading from the Torah scroll to respect the scroll and eliminating the need to touch the parchment.
 

The Augusta Jewish Museum has many more stories to tell.

Please come see us when the AJM opens in early 2021.

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Augusta Jewish Museum

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