Jewish Rituals in Daily Life

  • Shema: This is the most important prayer in Judaism and recited twice daily. It acts as a declaration of faith.
  • Amidah: Recited thrice daily and known as the ‘standing prayer’. It consists of blessings and requests.
  • Kashrut: Jewish dietary laws that dictate what can be eaten and how food should be prepared and cooked.
  • Shabbat: The day of rest observed from sunset on Friday until nightfall on Saturday. Prayer, family meals and rest are key features of Shabbat.

Life Cycle Rituals

  • Brit milah: The covenant of circumcision performed on a baby boy on his eight day of life.
  • Bar/Bat Mitzvah: Coming of age ritual for boys at 13 and girls at 12. They become responsible for their own actions in terms of Jewish law.
  • Marriage: It is a significant ritual with several customary practises like signing of a marriage contract (ketubah), and breaking a glass under the chuppah (canopy).
  • Death and Mourning: Judaism includes rituals for mourning which provide comfort and structure after the death of a loved one; such as ‘sitting shiva’ (seven day mourning period), and reciting the Kaddish prayer.

Festival Rituals

  • Passover (Pesach): Celebrates the Exodus from Egypt with a family meal (Seder) where the story is retold.
  • Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: These High Holy Days are for repentance and fasting.
  • Sukkot: Jews build a sukkah (hut) and live in it for a week to remember the 40 years spent in the desert.
  • Hanukkah: The ‘Festival of Lights’ lasts for eight days, with a candle lit on the menorah each night.

Prayer Rituals

  • Wearing of Tallit and Tefillin: these are prayer shawls and boxes containing scripture, worn during weekday morning prayers.
  • Use of Siddur: This is the Jewish prayer book used in daily and synagogue services.
  • Minyan: The quorum of ten men (in Orthodox communities), or ten adults (in Conservative or Reform communities), required for certain communal prayers.