|Traditional Jewish Gifts|
The Jewish religion has been around longer than any other faith. The Hebrew language is one of the oldest spoken languages. Within the Jewish culture there is a vast array of symbolic items that play a vital role in the traditions of the faith. Five of these are the Tallit, the Torah, the Menorah, the Tefillin and the Mezuzah. Because of the symbolism that is attached to these items, they make excellent and memorable gifts for friends and loved ones.
A Tallit is a traditional Jewish prayer shawl. It is worn by both male and female non-Orthodox Jews. This is a gift given to people after their Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah. It is worn when morning prayer is being practiced, and throughout the time the sun is up during weekdays. It is not worn in the evening or on weekends. However, there are many different customs depending on the culture the person is in that may change the times it is worn. Tallit comes from the word gown and one of the requirements that needs to be met for it to be worn as a prayer shawl is that it must cover the shoulders, not just the neck.
The Torah is the sacred book for Jewish people, which refers to the five books of Moses. A Sefer Torah is a scroll with the Torah's scriptures written on it. It is the primary holy scripture of Judaism, and is read by all members of the faith, so this scroll makes a good gift for anyone. It is read traditionally on Saturday afternoons, Mondays and Thursdays.
The Mezuzah is a small case that holds a handwritten scroll with the "Shema Israel" passage written on it. Mezuzahs are traditionally placed above the doorposts of all Jewish homes, making it a good present for any Jewish homeowner. The correct placement is on the right side of the door, a little bit above the middle of the doorpost. The top should be slanted toward the entrance to bless all who enter.
A Teffilin is a traditional garment worn by Jewish males. It is composed of two small black boxes with black straps attached. One box is placed on the head, while the other box is placed on the arm. It is worn for morning prayer. This is the first mitzvah men take place in post Bar Mitzvah, making the Teffilin an appropriate gift for male Jews during the time they celebrate their Bar Mitzvah.
The Menorah is one of the oldest symbols in the Jewish faith. It is a candelabra with seven posts, each for one day of Hanukkah. The light represents Israel's quest for peace and independence. It is tradition that on each day of Hanukkah, one candle is lit at a time, until all the candles are lit. This is a custom in Judaism and makes it an appropriate gift for anyone who celebrates this holiday.
By: Kathleen Odenthal