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If you cover your hair with a cloth head covering (tichel), you'll be happy to hear abou the new Tichel Volumizer, or Bobo.
A volumizer is a hat that you put on your head before putting on your tichel to help you add a foundation for designing the finished look of your tichel wrap.
Some tichel volumizers have a built in anti-slip headband attached inside, to help prevent slippage. Those that don't, rely on the elsatic material to keep your bobo from slipping off.
Actually, the tichel volumizer can not only be worn under a tichel and head scarf, but also under wigs, snoods, pre tied bandanas and everything else between!
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They are usually made very lightweight so it doesn't add a lot of weight to your head load. They are usually made one-size-fits-all, and some also have an adjustable hook or closure.
Depending on the material the bobo or tichel volumizer is made from, will determine how you can keep your bobo clean and odor free. Most are machine washable in a cold gentle cycle, but some may require hand washing. Check with the seller before buiyng.
Check out our entire line of headcoverings at the link below, where you will also find shawls, Berets and Caps, Hats, Headbands, Accessories, and more!
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The holiday of Purim is insignificantly significant. The miracles of the Purim story were very indirect and hidden. In fact, the only time a person can see how great the miracles were, is after reading the entire Purim story. Only when completing the full story, do all the pieces of the puzzle come together. G-d disguised himself as a villain, making it seem like he was going to destroy the Jewish nation. In the end, however, he destroyed the very people who were trying to annihilate his children. In honor of this, we wear costumes, to commemorate the idea of a blessing in disguise.
Note: We can learn an important lesson from this: When a person’s actions seem wrong, they are not always so. It is important to judge people favorably.
When Mordechai initially wore sackcloth and went into mourning, god arranged for a swap to be made. Haman ended up guiding a royal horse with Mordechai sitting on it, wearing royal clothing. To remember this “mix-up”, we dress up in clothing we wouldn’t normally wear.
On Purim, there is a positive commandment to give money to the poor. On this day, many poor people raise money for their families. In order to save them the embarrassment, we all dress up in different clothing, so no one needs to know who the collector is.
Another reason why costumes are important is the reality of a costume. On a regular day, it may seem that people are valued according to the way they dress or speak. On Purim, we disguise ourselves and many of us drink wine. These actions help us realize that we aren’t our cover or our outsides. We are however our personality and souls, and we are valued according to our efforts, not according to the way we look.
There are a few standard costumes that are very common to see on Purim. Here are a few examples:
These costumes are beautiful. There are, however, some who create extremely creative costume ideas. There are those who dress up as authority figures, such as policemen, firemen and superheros. There are others who dress up as famous characters they idolize. There are those who are from more protective homes, who are usually given only a few options of dressing. Many times they use Purim to dress up as someone their parents generally would not approve but would flip their opinion on this day just as the Jewish people’s fate flipped. Many times it’s is the other way around. Children from completely liberal homes will dress up as someone very orthodox.
In conclusion, Purim is an amazing opportunity to get to know yourself, your family and your friends in a very real way, and costumes play a large role in this.
Dreidels are a fun toy, similar to spinning tops, that are played with during the holiday of Chanukah. The word is derived from Yiddish, which means “to turn”. It has 4 sides and each side has a different Hebrew letter. In the diaspora the letters are nun, gimmel, hay, shin. Which stands for “Nes gadol haya sham”,(A Great Miracle Happened There) In Israel the final letter shin (there) is replaced with pey (here).
The miracle referenced is the oil, which was supposed to be enough to burn for only one day, but continued to burn for 8 days. This happened in the Temple in Jerusalem, explaining the changing of the last letter on the dreidel in Israel. The finding of the oil happened after a number of oppressive decrees were places upon the Jews, ongoing warfare between the Hasmoneans and the Greeks, and an all but destroyed Temple.
In most parts of the world Chanukah falls during the winter season and children are kept indoors to avoid the cold air in the nights. The dreidel has helped to occupy Jewish children for hundreds of years.
It is not perfectly clear where or how the game was established. It is likely it was adopted from other spinning top games with the added characteristics of chanukah. However, there is a nice tradition that during the time of Chanukah, the Greek empire invaded Israel and outlawed the study of torah. The Jews resisted and continued to educate their children, but when the Greeks patrolled their homes, the children needed a cover for their learning, thus they pulled out the dreidels and pretended to be playing games.
This contributes to another origin of the games since Chanukah shares the same Hebrew root as Chincuh, meaning “education” and the children sacrificed everything in order to continue their education.
The game that accompanies dreidels requires each child to have coins or chocolates called gelt. After the dreidel is spun each of the 4 sides have a different consequence, depending on which one it lands. The nun causes no action, the gimmel allows the player to take all the coins in the pot, hey allows the player takes half the coins, and shin/pey they put everything in the pot. The game is won by the final player with coins still in the pot, after the others have been eliminated. The minimum number of players is 2, but there is no maximum, in fact the more the better!
Today dreidels have become perhaps the best-known pastime during Chanukah. It does not require abundant skill to spin or to play by the rules. So, starting from a young age, children can play. Dreidels come in many colors and sizes that are sure to catch the interest of any child. Additionally, like many things in Judaism a precious lesson is to be learned and remembered while the game is played, and that is the utmost importance placed upon education.
The menorah is most commonly known today as the candle holder or lamp with 9 branches that is lit in the Jewish tradition on the festival of Hanukah. Hanukah is on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev, which usually falls sometime in December on the solar calendar. The basic design of the menorah is to have 8 branches of equal height and the 9th to be taller.
This taller one is called the shamash which means helper in Hebrew. This purpose of this light is to “help” because the remaining 8 lights are not supposed to be used for any purpose except to admire their beauty.
Menorahs traditionally only have 7 branches, and were used in the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of national and religious life. The Greek empire invaded and tried to destroy the temple, but after the Jews were able to come back and found inside online one jar of oil to use in the menorah. The oil should have been enough for one day but instead burned for 8 days, until they were able to make more. This event is commemorated with the festival of Chanukah and the additional lights on the menorah to represent all 8 days.
A menorah should follow some basic guidelines, but can take almost any shape or design. Traditionally, they have straight or curved branches of the same height, with the shamash in the middle or behind or on the end, and slightly higher. The original menorah was made of gold, but today common materials include silver and glass. Many artist use clays and ceramics to design ornate and beautiful pieces which do a fabulous job of spreading the joy of the miracle of Hanukah. Electric menorah can also be seen in many homes and windows with bulbs that light up for each day of Hanukah which also are a beautiful addition to the holiday.
The menorah should be lit in order from right to left. The first night the candle to the extreme right is lit. On the second night, the two candles on the extreme right are lit with the new candle going first. This continues until the last night all 8 candles are lit, plus the shamash. Many families have varying traditions for where and when to light but the most common includes the whole family gathering at sundown, outside, in the window, or a table at the entrance of the house. The head of the house pronounces a few blessings, then lights the candles, while the family sings traditional Hanukah songs together as admiring the candlelight.
Tu Bishvat. The 15th of Shevat. Shevat, the fifth month of the Hebrew year. The letters used to count 15 are Tet and Vav. Tet equals nine, and Vav equals six. Add them together and you have fifteen. Tet and Vav spell out “tu”. Hence, “Tu Bishvat”.
There are four “New years” in the Jewish calendar. Each one signifies a different beginning. The main one is “Rosh Hashana”, New years day. This is the beginning of the year for seasons. Most laws pertaining to yearly changes start and finish on this day. This occurs on the first of Tishrei. The next one is our Tu Bishvat, which as we said, occurs on the fifteenth of Shevat. This is the new year’s for trees and plants, or as fondly sung in Hebrew, “Chag La’ilanot”, the festival for the trees. The next new year’s on the list is the first of Nisan. This is the new year for the Jewish nation, as the redemption took place two weeks after this. It is also the new year for Jewish kings. The last new year's is the first of Elul. This is the new year for cattle. The obligation to tithe the cattle was measured yearly on this date.
How do we celebrate Tu Bishvat? We get together and sample exotic fruits to commemorate and celebrate this special day. If trying a fruit for the first time in a year, the “She’hechiyanu” blessing is required. The blessing, translated, means: Blessed are you, god, our god, the king of the world, that you have let us live, kept us and brought us to this time. We make this blessing when doing many things that we haven’t done in a while or things we haven’t ever done, like buying a new suit or a new house.
Humans are compared to trees in the bible, and the torah is compared to water. Because much of our lives are comparable on a deep and meaningful level of understanding, this festival is very significant to the meaning of our lives.
This has been cleverly arranged by people in the Jewish community who create special fruit platters containing the right amount of fruit, cut nicely into portions, arranged beautifully and including everything you need. There are many varieties and sizes, ranging from dried fruit to fresh fruit. Some platters are also served on designer Tu Bishvat gift plates which can be used year round to serve fruits.
The Jewish festivals have many enjoyable activities to help you savor the taste of Judaism- no pun intended. Enjoy your holiday, and if you’re short on time purchase a Tu Bishvat platter by contacting someone in your neighborhood.
The conclusion of the Passover holiday leads right into a long 7-week period known as Sefirat Haomer. It translates as counting of the Omer, which in the days when the temple stood in Jerusalem was a barley offering which people made. The period last for 49 days from the first night of Passover until the festival of Shavuot. During this time the Jewish people are required to count out loud each day, until the final day. The day can be counted from sundown which is the start of the day on the Hebrew calendar.
The Sefirat Haomer is a very special time in the Jewish calendar. The number 7 falls into the natural order of things, there are 7 days in a week (with the 7th being Shabbat) 7 days to Passover, 7 days to sukkot, and now the 7 weeks. Jewish sages have pointed out that these days connect the festival of Shavuot (the only festival which is one day) to Passover, making it as if it was one long holiday. There are other sources that explain that when the Jewish people were in enslaved in Egypt they fell to the 49th level of impurity, and each of the 49 days of the Omer purifies and elevates the Jewish nation. It ends for Shavuot which was the day the Torah was received at Mt. Sinai and one of the primary reason for the exodus as well as to dwell in a land of our own. The Sefirat Haomer is a time for preparation and introspection to reach the spiritual and physical turnaround of going from slaves to freemen.
There are a number of customs which have developed over the centuries during Sefirat Haomer. One of the most significant of which is the remembrance of the death of the students of Rabbi Akiva. He was a major figure in Jewish history and mentioned repeatedly in Jewish holy books. There was a plague lead to the death of tens of thousands of his students. To mourn their deaths Jews today follow the custom of refraining from certain activities during the Sefirat Haomer. These include cutting of hair and listening to music since theses are identified as joyous activities. In this time also, many Jews study the Pirkei Avot (Chapters of our Fathers) an compilation of ethical teachings.
Lag Baomer is the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer, and is a celebratory day, remembering the death of Shimon Bar Yochai. Traditionally these days are not celebratory but for great influencers in Jewish history like Shimon Bar Yochai, they are indeed festive because of their contributions. Shimon Bar Yochai was a leading authority who revealed some of the deepest secret of Kabbalah or Jewish mysticism through his book The Zohar. The Zohar is essentially a commentary on the Torah which focuses on spiritual aspects of the soul, nature, and the physical relationships with the spiritual. This day is celebrated with Bonfires since fires have always been symbolic of the soul, always reaches upwards.
Yom Kippur is the day of atonement on the Jewish calendar, it concludes the High holidays which started 10 days earlier with Rosh Hashanah. Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day of the year, where in Israel the country virtually stops, including the airport. The day is reserved for intense prayer, fasting, and has a somber feeling. It is called the Shabbat of Shabbats in the Torah and the restrictions of Yom Kippur are similar to those of Shabbat, plus a few extra.
We say that on Yom Kippur the entire world is forgiven for any wrongs they have done in the year. When the sun sets everyone starts on a completely fresh slate for the upcoming year. The day contains numerous significant events in history, and in Jewish philosophy it teaches that the day itself contains the holiness, and we have an opportunity to tap into it.
There are several restrictions on the day of Yom Kippur. Fasting is the most well-known, and for 25 hours people refrain from food, beverage, even washing hands unnecessarily and some brushing their teeth. The day of Yom Kippur is filled with such a high level of holiness that we attempt to distance ourselves from physical things if it will not be a danger to our health. Other restrictions are people do not wear leather shoes, using creams or oils, and avoiding intimate relationships with our spouses.
There is a universal custom to submerge in a mikvah before Yom Kippur starts. The Mikvah is a symbol of purity in the Jewish faith and allows us to connect with our inner soul which is pure.
Individual and national responsibility are two major themes of Yom Kippur. Any wrongs that have been committed against fellow man, we can only be forgiven in heaven if we first ask for forgiveness from that individual. Any wrongs that are between man and his creator can be forgiven on the day of Yom Kippur as well. These ideas bring the nation of Israel closer together in a sense of community and working towards the same goals to improve ourselves and the world.
Sukkot is a weeklong Jewish festival which falls in the fall season just after the high holidays. For many in Israel and in the diaspora, it is a exciting time when people construct their sukkah, sleep inside it, wave their lulav and etrog, and celebrate with family and friends. It is a holiday which commemorates when the Jewish nation were wondering in the desert for 40 years and slept in huts that they built and the harvest season in the land of Israel. The holiday is filled with special significance each day from many perspectives
The sukkah is the foundation of the holiday of sukkot. It is designed to be a temporary dwelling and all major activities should be done inside of the sukkah instead of the home. For 7 days families sleep, eat, read, play, and relax inside the sukkah. The sukkah can be built a few different ways and from various materials and sizes as long as it fits within the requirements laid down by Jewish tradition. The most important aspect is the roof, which must be made from something natural like leaves, branches or similar. There is also a special point to make sure in the night the stars can be seen through the roof. This helps to remind people that it is a temporary dwelling. Despite it being somewhat fragile and not permanent there is still a sense of security in the sukkah as we are reminded that our creator is the one who supplies the security, and not our actually home with cement walls and strong roofs.
In the holiday of Sukkot there is a mitzvah to wave the 4 species; the lulav, Etrog, willow and myrtle. Each year people carefully select their 4 species to make sure it is as beautiful and complete as possible. They are held together during the morning prayers either in the sukkah itself or in the synagogue and waved in 6 directions. This is symbolic gesture to show in each direction g-ds presence exist. Each of the 4 species represent a different type of person in the nation of Israel, as each specie is quite different from the other. But the mitzvah is only fully complete when they are all held together touching one another in unison.
The sukkot festival can also be referred to as the harvest festival. In the fall season Is the harvest time for many crops in the land of Israel. It was a celebratory time when farmers harvested their crops to bring to the markets. Long days each season are spent tending to and harvesting crops in the summer heat. These actions can lead people to think they have the power over these crops, that their actions alone produced the grains, fruits and vegetables. The timing of sukkot in addition to the use of the 4 species and living in the sukkah to help remind individuals that their creator is also the creator of the world, and without his assistance there would be no harvest.
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year. It translates literally as “head of the year” and the holiday acts as both as introduction to the following year as well as a conclusion to the previous year. Since the destruction of the second temple Rosh Hashanah has always been celebrated as a 2-day holiday.
Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the creation of the world. More specifically It is a celebration of the creation of the soul of Adam. Because of the festive and spiritual nature of the day it is when people gather with family and extended family for joyous meals and intense prayer. On this day the nation of Israel declare that G-d is their king and many parts of the days’ customs focus around this aspect. There are several names that Rosh Hashanah also goes by including Yom Teruah, which means day of the shofar blast.
One of the most significant aspects of Rosh Hashanah is hearing the Shofar. The Shofar is a made from the horn of a ram, and Is a traditional instrument used for all of jewish history. It is the most important mitzvah of the day and the one thing that people often go out of their way to accomplish. The shofar is used to remind us of the coronation of a king, since on this day we declare G-d as king. The sound also is synonymous with wailing or crying, to represent the intense yearning that the soul feels to connect with its creator and reflections on the last year.
There are certain foods that are included in the festive meals on Rosh Hashanah. Perhaps the best known is apples and honey, which can be found on virtually every Rosh Hashanah dinner table. The apple is dipped in the honey to represent a sweet year that which strive for. There are a number of other foods, like fish, pomegranates, and carrots that all have special symbolism for our desires in the upcoming year. Instead of the traditional shaped braided Challah bread, we eat round spiraling Challah to represent the cyclical nature of the year, yet with each spiral we are slightly elevated to a high level.
Tashlich is a fun prayer in which people go to a natural body of water and symbolically cast their mistakes away into the water. It is a very popular ritual and has text in the prayer book which are recited in the experience.
Rosh Hashanah is the start of a contemplative time known as the Yamim Nora’im or High Holidays. The 10 days that start with Rosh Hashanah and end with Yom Kippur are set aside for intense reflection and goal setting. We take this time to approach those we might have hurt and request forgiveness. We attempt to realize areas in our own life’s where we could have improved on, and to grow in the next year to be the best version of ourselves.
Passover (Pesach) is one of the three Jewish festivals in the year. It falls in the beginning of the Spring season usually and last for 7 days with a holiday one the first day and the seventh, with 5 days of “Chol Hamoed” in the middle. It is known throughout the Jewish world for the Matzah food, the fun Seder, and a time spent with family remembering our roots and common ancestry.
Passover always falls on the 15th of the Jewish month of Nissan. This date is the date that the Jewish people were drawn out from Egypt after a series of miraculous events. For over 200 years we were enslaved by pharaoh and the Egyptians. We were forced to do back breaking work and forbidden to practice many of the mitzvot. In a time when nearly all hope was lost, we left Egypt which such haste that we did not even allow the bread to properly rise before leaving. In prayers Passover is referred to as the time of our freedom, and the entire holiday is full of this idea. Jewish tradition teaches that it is one of the Jewish new year, like Rosh Hashanah which is the new year for the world, while Passover is the new year for the Jewish nation.
Matzah in today's world has become a symbol for the entire festival. Matzah is baked flour and water which must be complete in less than 18 minutes which is the time it takes for the dough to rise. It is typically circle or square and the most common type is hard like a cracker. The greatest mitzvah of Passover, aside from refraining from any foods that do contain leavening, is to eat matzah on the first night of Passover. One reason why is to remind us that sometimes when a great thing comes along (like freedom) no time should be spared. Additionally, matzah is like the humble mans bread, since it lacks significant flavor, it helps remind us of our beginnings despite many luxuries in our lives.
The Passover Seder follows step by step instructions passed down for over 2000 years. The book to accompany the Seder Is called the Haggadah and describes the events of being taken out of Egypt. There are many customs that families do during the Seder and endless songs that keep the children interested. One centerpiece of the Seder is the Seder plate which contains specific foods following the theme of the festival, like maror, and charoset. There is even a cup of wine left on the table for Eliyahu the prophet, who, tradition says, will come to announce the coming of the Messiah. The Seder is acted out by Jewish families around the world in excitement as we recognize that Passover was the start of a nation who were elevated to receive the Torah shortly after and because of this, thousands of years later, we are still a cohesive people.
The coming of age ceremony in the Jewish tradition is an exciting and meaningful event. Until the age of 13 for boys and 12 for girls, children are not considered bound by the commandments as laid out in the torah, at least not to the same level as adults are. The age of 13 in Judaism is when boys are expected to use tefillin and pay extra attention to the mitzvot that concern them the most. The same goes for girls, that after 12 they have certain mitzvot they are responsible for being extra careful about. This is the age when children are considered to be self-aware enough to know their responsibilities in the Jewish religion and with the Jewish people. That is where the name is derived from which literally means son of/daughter of the mitzvah. It is also a very fun time because of the celebration of taking on this responsibility.
The invitations to the celebrations are the first important step. Generally, invitations are sent to all the family and social circles. There is a strong emphasis on community in Judaism and the more people the more festive the party can be. Some important information should be included in the invitations. The Hebrew name of the bar/bat mitzvah should be included as well as the names of the parents. The location and time of the events should also be included with the name of the torah portion on which their birthday falls
Gifts for the bar/Bat mitzvah are also important for the guest to remember. Emphasis should be placed on Judaica and especially Judaica relevant the mitzvot. Since boys start wearing tefillin, bags to hold the tefillin or protective cases are a nice idea. Kiddush cups, siddurim, among other things are also good since boys are starting to use or participate in activities like these. For girls a siddur is also a great idea, along with Shabbat candle stick holders. For both genders tzedakah boxes are wonderful because the importance of giving back to those in need but also because how beautiful they can be.
The centerpiece at a celebration can a very memorable object. Tables for the celebration can be organized in such a way where families sit together, groups of friends or any other way. On each table is the centerpiece that ads significant flare and fashion to each table. Centerpieces can be any collection of colors, and sometimes contain candles, stones, pictures or nearly anything. Flowers are a most popular selection whether live or fake flowers.
The décor of the celebration should only add to the sense of holiness for the new adult. Pride and accomplishment are feelings which they feel along with their parents. When a son receives his first Aliyia to the torah the father says a special blessing signifying the transition of maturity and responsibility. The focus is on the bar/bat mitzvah and their decision to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors before them and following the ways of the torah.
The Shofar is a religious article and instrument that has its roots as far back as Jewish history goes. It is made typically from the horn of a ram. It is hallowed out, and wide on one end and skinny on the other. They range from all different sounds, pitches and sizes based upon how large the original horn of the animal was.
There are some significant times in history when the shofar has been used. In the Torah there is the best best known description when the Jewish people received the Torah at Mount Sinai, it describes a powerful shofar blast during the event. But also it is mentioned in the Talmud that the shofar was blown on Friday afternoon to inform the community that Shabbat was approaching, and to conclude their days work.
In the times when the Temple stood as the center of life in Jerusalem the shofar was an integral part of its service. For example, on Rosh Chodesh, the shofar was used to announce the start of a new month. Also, the Jubilee year, which came every 50 years, was also announced with the sounding of the shofar. Jubilee is a 50-year cycle from the Torah, in which the Torah demands the freeing of indentured servants and forgiving of debts.
There is a famous story in the book of Joshua when he led the people into the land of Israel, and they came to Jericho. The people circled the city and blew the shofar which collapsed the protective wall that surrounded the city, enabling them to conquer it. In fact, the shofar had many uses in times of war including a rallying call to announce the start or end of battles, install fear in the enemy, and a to declare victory.
Lastly, when a new king took his throne, his kingship was declared by using the shofar, this was done throughout the Jewish kingdom, and also is one of the explanations for the use on Rosh Hashanah which is still done to this day.
The shofar in modern times has one use that is most prominent. On Rosh Hashanah (new year’s) the shofar is blown a series of times in the synagogue. The is by far the most memorable and important moment in the Rosh Hashanah service.
The Talmud records a number of reasons why the shofar is blown in the new year. One of which is to declare the creator of the world as king, as is done in a king’s coronation. Some other reasons include to awaken the heart to do repentance before Yom Kippur arrives. The sounds of the shofar are commonly compared to the sounds of crying to show our sadness because the destruction of the Temple.
In more traditional groups the shofar is blown for 30 days leading up to Rosh Hashanah as well, during the month of Elul, for similar reasons.
Sometimes also referred to as turban, head wrap, scarf, Jewish hat, hijab, bandanas, and headdress...
But whatever name you use for this modest Jewish women's headcovering, the idea is the same, it allows a married woman to cover her hair when she is around people other than her immediate family. This is one of the Jewish laws that religious women abide by after they get married.
Tichels come in many shapes sizes and colors and there are endless ways for women to express themselves by choosing what style they use to cover their hair.
It is derived from the torah in a section (Sotah) where it describes a woman who is brought to trial and found guilty of infidelity. It mentions that her hair is uncovered in this moment (since she will no longer be married), and the torah sages understood that in all other times her hair should be covered since she is married. Although this is the original source there are numerous approaches to when, how, and why women cover their hair.
A woman starts to cover her hair after the becomes married. Women do not cover their hair before they are married, and even their wedding day. Going forward their hair is covered when they are around other people than just her husband. Since it is a sign of respect,during any Jewish rituals women are extra careful to cover their hair, like when lighting Shabbat candles, entering into the synagogue, or saying prayers.
A tichel is used to cover the hair on a woman head. There are various opinions and interpretations as to how much hair should be covered, or how much can be revealed. Each Jewish community from different parts of the world has developed their own style of covering the hair. In eastern Europe many women used a handkerchief. In Israel today, a full long hair wrap is often used that keeps all the hair inside. Even today specialized hats are made that can be slid off and on easily similar to a beanie used in the winter.
After a woman is married, her hair, similar to certain parts of her body becomes a private matter. Hair in nearly every culture in the world is sensual, a sign of beauty and youth. After marriage a man and women wish to show this side of themselves only to their spouse. On the most basic level it sends a symbol to those around her that she is a proudly married woman and unavailable. It has never been a used to take away from a woman’s beauty, in fact many tichel are extravagant and beautiful, but are to conceal part of her physical beauty for those closest to her.
The tichel and other forms of head coverings allow a woman to proudly preserve her heritage and values of modesty that have persisted throughout the ages. Today the style, colors, and variety allow for a unique mix of the old meets the new, as Jewish married women accessorize and express themselves with the tichel.
Check out our entire line of headcoverings at the link below, where you will also find shawls, Berets and Caps, Hats, Headbands, Accessories, and more!
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During the fall season after the high holidays comes a fun and exciting holiday named Sukkot. Sukkot is known for the Sukkah (hut) which is slept and eaten in During the weeklong festival and the “Four Species” which are bound together and waved in the synagogue in the holiday. Two of the four, and the most prominent are the Lulav and Etrog. The Lulav is a closed frond from the Date Palm Tree. The Etrog fruit is from the citrus family, similar to a lemon.
When all four are together they are waved in the 4 cardinal directions plus up and down, to represent the encompassing nature of the creator. Each of the four species represents a different type of person, since each has unique characteristics, yet they all complement each other, and the mitzvah is not complete until they are together.
In the days when the Temple stood in Jerusalem, there was a mitzvah to take the lulav and other 3 species together for all 7 days of the festival on the Temple Mount. Today since no temple stands the 4 species are waved in the synagogue or inside of the sukkah each of the 7 days of the festival.
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A Lulav comes the frond section of the date palm tree. It is cut early in the season before the leaves spread and opens up. The leaves are still closed, and they resemble something like a dense branch or stick. The lulav is usually about a meter long and is the longest of the 4-species bundled together. The Lulav must comply with Jewish law and should be straight without splits or fractures along the leaves at the tip.
This helps explain the symbolism of the Lulav which is often referred to as the “backbone” of the bundle since it is the largest but also because it is upright and firm. Some commentators explain that this is how one should act, in an upright fashion.
Etrog is another distinct item of the 4 species. The Etrog is unlike other citrus fruits it lacks any major culinary uses. They grow to many different sizes from a golf ball size to larger than a soft ball, but always have very little fruit inside. To meet the minimum qualifications according to Jewish law the Etrog must have certain features. The Pitom, which protrudes from the fruit, must not fall off after the fruit has been detached from the tree. There should also be no significant damaged parts to the fruit, or black spots. The biblical verse that references the Etrog actually calls the tree a “beautiful fruit tree” so people often go out of their way to find the most beautiful Etrog for the festival.
The Etrog is often called the heart of the bundle. The Etrog is delicate, must be cared for, and stands out as the only one of the species that is not vegetation. Not to mention the shape of the Etrog is like a heart.
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Siddur is the prayer book used by Jews around the world. The word Siddur, in Hebrew, means “order”, and shares its root with the “Seder” which we do on Passover (also order). There are various customs that have developed in the long exile since Jews have been spread throughout the world, but they all share major commonalities. Some of the most common customs include the Ashkenazi, of Jews mostly from Germany and parts of Europe, Sefard, which is typically a Hasidic custom also from Europe with Kabbalistic elements. Sephardi is generally Jews from the middle east and north Africa, which contains a number of specific customs for Iraq and Morocco, just to name a few.
The siddur, as the name implies, contains the order of prayers that are said throughout the day. It starts with the morning blessings that are said upon rising and moves into the Sharcharit morning prayer. After, follows Mincha, the afternoon prayer, and then comes the evening prayer, Arvit or Maariv. Everything essential to the Jewish calendar and Jewish life is added after this, including blessings after meals, pubic torah readings, additions for Shabbat, holidays and fast days, etc. Each publishing company adds its own style, emphasis, and additions. Some contain additional commentary to help the user to understand and appreciate the text. A number of companies translate the text into the native language of the user, alternating pages.
The siddur has had a very interesting history, because like other ancient books, until the revolution of the printing press, many books were out of reach of the common man, either because of price, or lack of literacy. Before this time nearly all prayers were memorized, and if not, then the prayer service was altered in some way to allow those who did not know it to still participate.
At the end of the second temple period, the Men of the Great Assembly, instituted the central part of prayer called “Shemoneh Esreh” known for its 18 blessings. This was the starting point of Judaism as it is known today as organized central prayers helped to maintain a common bond between the Jewish people in the world. From this time onward there has been some “order” of prayers for everyday life.
A Siddur like all Hebrew text are read from right to left. This means if it is translated with a foreign language on one page and Hebrew on the other, then the pages will turn opposite then what one is used to for one of the languages. Some even contain interlinear which have the exact translation under the Hebrew word. Prayer is a private matter, so although it is ideal to pray in Hebrew, and share this characteristic with the majority of the Jewish people, it can and should be read in your native language if you do not understand Hebrew. The commentaries included in many siddurim are a great way to allow for better understanding.
Tefillin are two small black boxes that are placed on the arm and head in Judaism. They are derived from 4 different verses in the Torah, two of which mention the exodus from Egypt, and 2 of which are in the well-known Shema Prayer. In fact, these four verses are written on small kosher parchment, rolled up, and kept inside the Tefillin boxes. The word Tefillin is related to the word for prayer (tefillah) but this is not what they are originally called in the Torah, and only came about later. The Tefillin are said to act as a physical and spiritual symbol that bind the head (representing thoughts) and arm, just opposite the heart (representing actions) together for the same purpose. Ancient Jewish sages explained that tefillin can assist in keeping one modest and righteous.
Tefillin are word by adul males starting from the age of Bar Mitzvah. They are worn through the duration of the morning prayer Sharcharit except on the Tisha B’Av fast day when they are worn in the afternoon prayer. Additionally, they are not worn on Shabbat or during certain holidays. When they are referenced in the Torah they are called a “sign” the same as Shabbat and the holidays are called “signs” which would render them redundant. Tefillin are not worn in unclean environments, like in the rest room or someplace with a lot of trash or bad odors so as not to disrespect them.
Tefillin are made following an ancient tradition that has been passed down all of Jewish history. They must be made from the hide of a kosher animals with the intention that they will be used for tefillin the whole time. The Leather is first shaped into perfectly square boxes, hallowed out, so it can contain the parchment which must be written in the prescribed manner. The leather straps are also made from animal hide. Both the boxes and the straps are painted black and must remain black. The process is very delicates and the smallest imperfection or mistake can make the tefillin invalid.
Tefillin not only made in a specific way, worn at specific times, but also must be worn in a specific way. The arm tefillin is placed on the lower bicep, with nothing coming between the leather and bare skin. Then the strap is wrapped down from the top of the forearm 7 times. Then it continues to be wrapped around the palm and lastly the fingers. The head Tefillin is placed on the front of the head, aligning with the hairline. The strap from the head Tefillin is wrapped around the head with the knot resting on the bottom of the back of the head near the hairline. Then the two ends of the straps drape over each should resting on the user’s chest. Some Jews say blessings individually over each Tefillin, while other Jews say one blessing for both.
Tzitzit are a garment worn by religious Jews at certain times. It refers especially to the tassels that hang down from the corners of the garment. There are two garments that contain tzitzit currently, Tallit Gadol (large) and Tallit Katan (small). The Tallit Gadol is worn during morning prayer by men, from bar mitzvah age in Sephardic communities and from marriage in Ashkenazi communities. The Tallit Katan is worn usually by young children and onward starting from about age three.
Tzitzit are a mitzvah or commandment listed explicitly in the Torah. There are verses like those read in the paragraphs following the Shema, that on the corner of their garment, one should put Tzitzit. Derived from this the Jewish sages determined that it was prohibited to wear any garment that could qualify for tzitzit, but that didn’t have them. These are garments that have four corners, and are of a certain size and material.
Today garments like these (with four corners) are not often worn, so to demonstrate eagerness to perform mitzvot many men wear the Tallit Katan under their normal shirt. The Tallit Katan is a small four corner garment, in the shape of a rectangle than requires tzitzit. This is worn most hours of the day, even though there is an emphasis during the daylight hours, which is the only time the blessing on Tzitzit can be said. This is also why women are exempt from Tzitzit since it is a mitzvah that is time sensitive, which women are always exempt from.
The strings used in tzitzit must be tied with the specific purpose of fulfilling the mitzvah. They are placed through whole in the corner of the garment, then follow a series of various knots and twists that vary based on the user’s customs. Based on one of the most common methods that is from the famous Torah commentator named “Rashi”. He describes that the gematria (valuation of Hebrew letters) of Tzitzit equals 600. Plus, the 8 threads that each tzitzit has, and the 5 knots on each set. This equals 613, a number equal to the total number of mitzvot. He says this serves to remind the user of all the mitzvot when they are being worn.
There is an additional requirement that is mentioned in the Torah, but this is less commonly used today. The Torah says to include one blue string on each corner of the garment and three white strings. The blue dye used is a special color derived from a specific animal, thought to be some sort of sea snail or fish. The problem has arisen that over the generations in exile the tradition of which animal this was has been lost. Most Jewish men do not wear the Tekhelet, because of the doubt of the wrong color blue or wrong dye being used. Recently in Israel, biblical scholars think they have rediscovered this animal and started to reproduce the blue dye, which some do choose to use in their garments.
Tenach is a Hebrew word for what is referred to in English as the Bible. Tenach is an acronym of the 3 Hebrew texts that make up the complete bible, their names are Torah (teachings), Nevi’im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writing). This compilation of holy text has been studied not just by Jews but other religions and academics in the world. The Tenach has gained widespread popularity and has been translated from the original text of Hebrew into more widely used languages. Most copies published today in book form contain the original Hebrew on one side of the page, and English (or the translation) on the other. The following is an outline of each of the major sections:
The Torah is also known as the 5 books of Moses. The 5 books have a common story line following the building of the Jewish nation, their experience receiving the Torah, and their preparation to enter the Land of Israel. It starts with the famous chronicles of the creation of the world, following the lifetimes of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people which acts as an introduction to their descendants, the Jewish people. The last lines in the Torah concludes with the death of Moses and the people anticipating their entrance into Israel, by their new leader Joshua. The stories and experiences help to communicate the mitzvot (commandments) which are the basis for the laws in which the Jewish people built their public and private lives.
The book of prophets picks up where the Torah left off. It’s a collection of books beginning with Joshua, and following the lessons the prophets were trying to teach the newly sovereign nation of Israel. The prophets were often leaders and individuals of influence, and were constantly reminding the people to live up to the ideals and morals of the Torah. Jewish tradition teaches that all the texts in the book of prophets were not just relevant at that time, but to all times, which is why they are viewed as holy texts. The prophets ultimately warn that although there are and will be struggles, the future remains bright.
The final book Tenach is called writings. It is a combination of several works which contain books of poetry, proverbs, and psalms among other historically centered writings. The authors of the text often were individuals very central to Judaism, such as king David or King Solomon. These texts, as all preceding parts of the Tenach, express the yearning and struggles of humans connecting with their creator.
The Tenach today is a living text. Each year there are new commentaries being published to help people understand and interpret the ancient Jewish text. They are holy texts read at synagogue daily, on holidays and festivals and for education. Additionally, they are studied in universities for philosophical and historical purposes. The Tenach is the source of Jewish identity, that is vital to understanding the individual and collective narrative in the past, present and future.
On the first night of Passover, Jewish families get together for a Seder. The word Seder literally means order. This is because the Seder is written in a special order, numbered 1 through 12. In these 12 categories, different parts of the exodus from Egypt are re-lived, and there are celebratory services too, such as eating, drinking wine, and blessings. During the Seder, leavened bread, or regular bread, as we know it, is forbidden. This is in memory of the Jews leaving Egypt, who couldn’t eat leavened bread, as there was no time to let it rise. Instead we eat matza. Matza is a cracker-like bread which has not risen for more than 18 minutes before it is fully baked. The matza is placed alongside or within the iconic seder plate. This “seder plate” contains important symbolic foods that are given out to eat, show and discuss during the Seder. Our sages teach us the importance of beautifying our seder and therefore the practice is to place all these symbolic foods on a special plate.
A Seder plate can look different in a few ways. Some Seder plates are one floor. One floor means that only the six food items are placed on it. These items are:
Some Seder plates, however, are more detailed. These Seder plates have three floors, and a roof. On each floor are matzot. (Matzot is plural for matza). The three floors are symbolic for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the three patriarchs. Each “patriarch” is used for a different part of the Seder. The six aforementioned symbolic food items are placed on the exposed roof of this layered plate. They own the seder plate “penthouse”. This Seder plate is simply majestic. It is usually silver, though there are many different designs and materials used in making this type of seder plate. It is magnificent.
Our sages taught that when someone glorifies and beautifies judaism, god rewards them greatly. What better way to glorify god’s name, show gratitude for the exodus and celebrate the re-birth of our nation than by having a masterpiece of a seder plate at the front of the table on Seder night.
Havdalah means separation in Hebrew and is a ceremony that is done at the departure of Shabbat and the festivals. In Judaism major events contain a special procedure to emphasize the importance of that time, for example Kiddush at the start of the festivals and Shabbat. It’s a unique time because after joyous days one would think we should be sad that it is ending, but Havdalah is a happy time in which the whole family can participate. In order to properly do Havdalah, 3 things are needed, a cup of wine or grape juice, a pleasant-smelling spice, and a multi wick candle.
Havdalah has a combination of prayers, blessings, and the actions that follow the blessings. There are some preceding verses that are said at the conclusions of most holidays that contain subjects of praise and thanks to the creator for ongoing support and gladness in our lives. Then there are four blessings that are recited with symbolic rituals that accompany them.
The first blessing is on the cup of wine, similar to Kiddush, Havdalah should be said on a cup worthy of the honor. It can be made of glass, metal, ceramics or anything else. While holding the cup of wine the blessing is recited but the glass is not drunk immediately, instead continuing to the second blessing. Wine holds a special value in Judaism because of its ability to increase joy and bring people together.
The second blessing is on the pleasant spices. Cinnamon, cloves, or anything natural can be used for this part. After reciting the blessing, the spices are passed around for all participants to smell. The smell, most importantly, should be sweet and enjoyable. This significance of this is to awaken the soul from the spirituality of the departing day and allow for a continuously sweet week.
The third blessing is over the multi wick candle. The act of creating fire is one of the prohibitions of the Jewish holy days, thus by lighting a candle and incorporating it into the ceremony it marks the end to the holy day. Candles in Judaism are a perfect metaphor for goodness, because the small amount of light can easily displace the surrounding darkness. This mindset should also continue into the upcoming week.
The fourth and final blessing is on the separation between the holy and the mundane. The blessing gives example of things that have a clear distinction like and dark, and the 6 mundane days and the Shabbat. At the conclusion of this blessing is when the wine is finally drunk, often followed by festive songs.
Havdalah dates back all of Jewish history, and today still has relevance in our busy lives. Elegant vessels should be used to help enhance the sense of importance. Beautiful matching sets to hold the spices, wine, and candle are available are can be shared by the family in this special experience.
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