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Who is Serenaded on Friday Night: the Woman of the House, or the Divine Presence?

Posted on December 18th, 2017
Atar Hadari for Tablet Magazine 

Before the meal on Sabbath eve, the prayer book offers a song of praise to the ideal woman.

After the invitation to the angels to bless the household, and before kiddush is recited and the family sits down to the Friday-night meal, the prayer book offers a song praising the ideal woman. Known as Eyshet Ḥayil, or “woman of valor,” the song is organized as an alphabetical acrostic (i.e., each verse starts with a new letter, in alphabetical order), and is in fact the concluding passage of the biblical book of Proverbs (31:10-31).

But why should the woman of the house be serenaded on Friday night—if that’s whom the song is really addressed to?

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Shabbat Candles & Havdalah on Chanukah

Posted on December 11th, 2017


During the Shabbat of Chanukah, which is lit first - the Menorah or the Shabbat candles?

And then on Saturday night, which do we do first - the Menorah or the Havdalah service?

The Rabbi Replies:

On Friday afternoon during Chanukah, we first light the Chanukah candles. The reason is because if we would light Shabbat candles first, this would signify the onset of Shabbat - and we are not allowed to light Chanukah candles on Shabbat. (Code of Jewish Law O.C. 679:1)

But following Shabbat on Saturday night, there are different opinions as to which should be done first. On one hand, it makes sense to say Havdallah first, because that signifies the end of Shabbat and now gives permissibility to lighting Chanukah candles. Also, there is the Talmudic principle of "Tadir U'sheino Tadir, Tadir Kodem" - the activity that is performed more often should be performed first (Zevachim 89a).

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Want more great Hanukkah ideas? Find articles, crafts, and recipes in our Hanukkah Guide.



Shabbat Dinner Blessings – Lyrics

Posted on December 4th, 2017
From bimbam

Get familiar with Jewish blessings and Friday night traditions with our singalong lyrics video created through a partnership with Moishe House and Taglit-Israel Birthright.

If you want to host Shabbat dinner at your home and you are not super familiar with the tunes or blessings, this sing-along Shabbat guide should get you up to speed in no time.

Continue reading & watch video.



New to Jewish Prayer? Nine Tips for Beginners

Posted on November 27th, 2017
by Rabbi Ruth Adar for RJ.org

So, you’ve been to Shabbat services once or twice, and found them mystifying. Or perhaps you have been invited to a bar mitzvah service and you have no idea what to do.

Some questions that may have crossed your mind: What are people getting out of this? Does everyone here understand the Hebrew? What’s with all the bowing and stuff? What if I do something wrong? Here are  some ways to get something out of the experience as a beginner. There is no wrong way to be in a service as long as you are respectful. So turn off your cell phone and experiment with these. Some work for one person, some for another. Your experience will be unique to you.

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Why Is Challah so Beloved by the Jewish People?

Posted on November 20th, 2017
BY RABBI RIFAT SONSINO for ReformJudaism.org

I had never seen a challah until I first came to America in 1961, but once I discovered it I began to like it very much.

Why am I writing about challah? Recently, I was contacted by the leadership of the town of Soncino, Italy, requesting information about the use of bread among Jews for a special “bread festival” in their region. This prompted me to think a bit more about the role challah played in Jewish life.

Challah is the quintessential Jewish bread that is eaten on Shabbat and festivals. As a yeast-risen bread, it comes in different shapes and textures, mostly with eggs but others with water, and each baker claiming to have the best recipe. On Shabbat it is braided; on Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish new year, it is round, with all kinds of fancy religious, even mystical, meanings ascribed to it, such as all life is intertwined; roundness stands for completeness and perfection.

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