Shofar Shorts

The shofar is one of the most recognizable symbols of Rosh Hashana. Although it is preferable that a shofar be fashioned from a ram’s horn, the horn need only come from a kosher animal.*…

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Rock of Ages

“Rock of Ages let our song / Praise thy saving power / Thou amidst the raging foes / Wast our sheltering tower....” This is the first verse of Maoz Tzur as loosely translated…

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Pidyon Ha’ben – Redeeming the Firstborn

“You must redeem the firstborn of a person ... when he is one month old, for the value of five silver shekels” (Numbers 18:15-16). God sanctified the firstborn male Israelites when He…

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Chag Ha’matzot

The name of the holiday “Passover,” is an allusion to God’s passing over the Israelite households during the plague of the firstborn, a critical element in the events of the Exodus. The…

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What Are Tefillin?

“And you shall bind them [the words that I command you today] for a sign upon your arm, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes... (Deuteronomy 6:8)” The above verse refers to…

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It’s Electric

In the early 1900s, rabbinic authorities had to determine exactly what electricity was from a halachic (Jewish legal) perspective. The first uses of electricity were, of course,…

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One Goat…and a Host of Other Things

Most American children know the play song, There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. It’s a fun song that has a building pattern that helps develop children’s memory…

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OMG! Passover Is Coming

The intensive physical and emotional preparations for Passover come from one seemingly simple commandment: "Seven days you will eat only matzah, but on the first day you shall have put…

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First On The Court

Born in 1856, in Louisville, Kentucky, Louis Dembitz Brandeis was the child of European immigrants who maintained a minimal Jewish identity. However, his maternal uncle, Lewis Dembitz,…

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The Haftarah

Every week, on Shabbat, a portion of the Five Books of Moses is read in synagogue. This portion is known as the parasha. In addition to the parasha, a section from the…

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Two Pillars of Five

Jewish law, and thus Jewish life, rests on two pillars, the mitzvot between a person and God and the mitzvot between one person and another. These two pillars of law are laid out in the…

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Symbolic Foods

Since Rosh Hashana is the Day of Judgment, it is customary to eat simanim,* foods with symbolic meanings that invoke God's blessing. We also recite a short prayer before eating them.…

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The Foods of Tu B’Shevat

This Shabbat, Jews around the world celebrate Tu B'Shevat, the new year of the trees. Tu B'Shevat is often celebrated with the 7 species for which the Torah praises…

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Chol Hamoed

Most holidays in Western society last for a single day, which is often extended into the weekend. And while most people are aware that Chanukah is celebrated for 8 days, many people are…

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Chol Hamoed

Most holidays in Western society last for a single day, which is often extended into the weekend. And while most people are aware that Chanukah is celebrated for 8 days, many people are…

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Religious Recycling

Organized recycling is a development of the modern world, and from the current understanding of the concept, is not discussed in the Talmud. After all, in the era when the sages were…

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Chag Ha’matzot

The name of the holiday “Passover,” is an allusion to God’s passing over the Israelite households during the plague of the firstborn, a critical element in the events of the Exodus. The…

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Lag Ba’omer

The period of mourning* (for the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva who died of plague) associated with Sefirat Ha’omer is not observed on the 33rd day of the Omer, a day known…

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Should Old Acquaintances Be Forgot?

“Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” This question is posed by the classic New Year’s Eve song Auld Lang Syne. The song originated in Scotland…

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A Look at Honesty

In honor of Honesty Day (created by M. Hirsh Goldberg in the 1990s), Jewish Treats presents some fascinating insights into the Jewish view on the importance of honesty.Much of…

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How Many Tribes?

The challenge to name the number of tribes of Israel would fall into the category of  “easy” by trivia fans. However, the term “The Twelve Tribes of Israel” can be enumerated in…

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Aishet Chayil and Esther

On Friday nights it is customary to sing a selection of verses from the final chapter of the Book of Proverbs (31:10-31) known as Aishet Chayil, A Woman of Valor. At this time of…

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Lag Ba’omer

The period of mourning* (for the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva who died of plague) associated with Sefirat Ha’omer is not observed on the 33rd day of the Omer, a day known…

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Chol Hamoed

Most holidays in Western society last for a single day, which is often extended into the weekend. And while most people are aware that Chanukah is celebrated for 8 days, many people are…

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Chol Hamoed

Most holidays in Western society last for a single day, which is often extended into the weekend. And while most people are aware that Chanukah is celebrated for 8 days, many people are…

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The Food of Yom Kippur

Food on Yom Kippur? Isn’t Yom Kippur the most famous fast day on the Jewish calendar?"One who eats and drinks on the ninth, is considered by the Torah to have fasted on both the ninth and…

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Stop and Smell the Roses

There is no common word for people with an impaired olfactory system (anosmia, for those who wish to know) such as there is for one with impaired vision or impaired hearing. Smell,…

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Just a Half Shekel

This Shabbat is Parashat Shekalim (shekels). The Torah portion that speaks of Shekalim (Exodus 30:11-16) is read as the Maftir portion after the regular…

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Foods of Tu B’Shevat

This Thursday, Jews around the world celebrate Tu B'Shevat, the new year of the trees. Tu B'Shevat is often celebrated with the 7 species for which the Torah…

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Post Labor Day Whites

When is it fashionably acceptable to wear white after Labor Day? On Yom Kippur!Many people have the custom of wearing white on Yom Kippur. In the synagogue you will often see women…

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