A tallit is a prayer shawl. Tallitot (plural of tallit) are rectangular in shape and have fringes called tzitzits at the four corners. Tallitot come in various sizes ranging from 24 inches by 72 inches to 60 inches by 72 inches. The most common colors are white with either black or blue stripes. Gold or silver stripes will usually accompany the black or blue stripes. While these colors are the most common there is no limit to the variety of colors on tallitot. In the past only men wore tallitot, but today it is common for women to wear them as well.

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Have you ever wondered what a shochet is? It is known that Torah observant believers keep a special tradition to avoid certain kinds of animals such as pigs, shell fish, and other creatures forbidden by the Torah in Leviticus 11.

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Male circumcision is a well known Jewish tradition. Avraham (Abraham) was called by God and highly honored. God said “’I will cause you to be very fruitful.

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When a young boy reaches the age of thirteen he is termed a bar mitzvah, which literally means a son of commandments or son of good deeds. For girls the term is bat mitzvah. It is at this age that the child is considered old enough to start taking part in the worship service. According to Jewish custom the parents are accountable before God for the actions of the child up to this time. But at the age of 13 children are considered old enough to answer for themselves before God in the Day of Judgment.

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Kiddush is from the Hebrew word for holy or sanctify, to set apart as holy. God set the Sabbath apart as holy. Saying the kiddush on Friday evening dates back about 2,500 years.

Shabbat candles are traditionally lit before the Shabbat has begun. Generally, the woman of the home lights the candles and says the candle blessing with her head covered. At least two candles are used, one for the person saying the blessing and one for God. Some families will have a candle for each member of the family.

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Observing the Havdalah ritual, 14th-century SpainHavdallah means “separation” and is a service used to separate the holiness of the Sabbath from the rest of the week. It separates the day that God blessed from the regular workdays of the week. It is also a reminder to us that there is a difference between the holy and the secular. That would include time such as the difference between the Sabbath and the rest of the week, but also the difference between kinds of activities such as the difference between worship and work.

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The word “kosher” literally means “proper.” When kosher is used to describe food it refers to those foods that are proper to eat. The Bible outlines biblically kosher foods. Biblically kosher foods are described in Leviticus chapter 11.

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It is often said of Judaism that it is less a faith than it is a way of life. For Judaism enters into all aspects of our life. This is seen best in the numerous blessings which are said on different occasions. Among the blessings listed in the Siddur (the daily and Sabbath prayer book) will be found those on waking in the morning, for putting on a new garment, for seeing a rainbow, washing ones hands, eating various foods, etc as well as those said when we fulfil a commandment. Talmudic Rabbis said that it was forbidden to enjoy such things without saying a blessing.  Many of the blessings used today date back to the 3rd and 4th centuries CE and can be found in the Talmud in tractate Berachot.

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