|Jewish Art Gifts|
Judaism is strongly focused on the home and family and on celebrating major life events. "Judaica" is the term given to ceremonial objects, especially those used in the home, that are also decorative art pieces. Using a beautiful object every day or week in a religious ceremony emphasizes the importance of both the object and the ritual to a religious lifestyle. Jewish art is therefore a major part of the Jewish home.
A family celebration marks a boy's circumcision eight days after his birth during a ceremony called a "brit milah," or when a girl receives her Hebrew name. You can find beautifully written and decoratively framed personalized certificates and blessings to commemorate these events. A "mezuzah" is a small decorative box containing a handwritten prayer; observant Jewish families attach one to the doorpost of every room in the home except the bathroom. Choose one designed for a child's room as a special gift for the new baby.
At age 13 and 12, respectively, boys and girls become full members of the religious community. A boy becomes "bar mitzvah," or "son of the law," while a girl becomes "a daughter of the law," or "bat mitzvah." A traditional gift is a richly decorated "tzedakah," or charity box, to remind the new Jewish adult that the giving of charity in his own name is one of the religious commandments he is now responsible for. A girl may join her mother in lighting candles for the Sabbath and likely would love to receive her own decorative candlesticks. A boy reads from the synagogue scroll for the first time on his "bar mitzvah," and a carved "yad," or pointer, in precious or semiprecious metal is an unusual, artistic and practical gift.
As Judaism is celebrated as much in the home as in the synagogue, you have many opportunities to give gifts of Jewish art that the family will use daily or weekly. A "mizrach" is an ornamental wall plaque that hangs on the wall of the home that faces toward Jerusalem, to indicate the direction of prayer. A silver, ceramic or glass "kiddush" cup holds the wine used in the Sabbath celebration. The "challah," bread for the "kiddush" ceremony, sits on a special plate or board and has a decorative cloth cover. At the end of the Sabbath, the family holds a "havdalah" ceremony to mark the break between the Sabbath and the rest of the week, and a "havdalah" set holds the candle, wine and spices. Other gifts for the home include a "hamsa" or Hand of God, a good luck symbol that comes in many styles and materials and is a traditional new home gift. Wall hangings, fabric art and wall plaques with Jewish symbols, such as the Star of David or Hebrew letters of the word "chai," which means "life," are excellent choices for artistic gifts.
By Isobel Phillips