We’re “Doing Jewish” and So Can You!

by Arliene Botnick, October 30, 2019

What’s the question(s) you’ve always wanted to ask? Boys become Bar Mitzvah at age 13 but there is no place in the Torah that mentions the age of 13. Torah is one source of our Jewish knowledge, but do we recognize the other sources – referred to as Oral Torah – like Mishnah, Gemara, Responsa? So why “13” ? Where’s the answer? And why not girls?

And what about wearing a Tallit? Why can any guest coming into our sanctuary put on a kipah but the tallit is usually a garment only worn by Jews? And in some communities, only worn by male Jews. What parts of the Tallit are significant and why?

During a service, sometimes we stand, sometimes we bend our heads and knees. Occasionally, we sway from side to side, or turn to faet the sanctuary doors, or maybe stand upon our tippy toes. Why? We almost all mimic these movements but it is nice to know their significance.

Our next holiday, Chanukah, is perhaps one of the most celebrated in our community, but it is considered minor. It’s not even included in the “Torah” that we read from each week. As a matter of fact, many rabbis in very early times, wanted not to include this holiday at all. Yet, today, it is very noteworthy! So what’s the difference between a “Yom Tov” like Sukkot, or Shavuot, or Pesach and a “Chag” like Chanukah or Purim?


And finally, our Jewish homes! What does that mean? Does a home have to be a place where the rules of Kashrut are kept (or not)? Does a mezuzah have to be on the doorpost? Is there anything in a home that could deny it the privilege of being called a Jewish home? Is your home Jewish? How (or why) would you prove it?

On Wednesday, November 6, I begin the first of 2 4-week sessions on answering your Jewish questions. The Doing Jewish course will run on Wednesday, November 6, 13, 20 27 at Solel from 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. All are welcome and ‘almost’ any question will be discussed.

Judaism is a religion, a way of life, a faith system, a family of people who share something most valuable, a body of knowledge that explains not just why we are born Jews, or Jews by Choice, but how we live as Jews and pass on that identity to the next generations. Let’s learn what defines us as Jews so that we can do as we are commanded – “V’shinantam le vanecha” – Teach the next generation diligently. After all, we can’t teach what we haven’t learned, so please take every opportunity to learn, to question – to “La asok B’divrei Torah” – to engage, immerse yourself in the study of Torah.

See some of you, I hope, Wednesday, November 6th at 7:30 p.m.


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