is when a Jewish boy becomes of age at 13-years-old and is recognized by Jewish tradition as having the same rights and responsibilities as an adult man. The term bar mitzvah also refers to the religious ceremony that accompanies a boy becoming a Bar Mitzvah. Often a celebratory party will follow the ceremony and that party is also called a bar mitzvah. The bar mitzvah boy will be given a variety of gifts for his Bar Mitzvah. Popular presents include Jewish gifts such as a kiddush cup, a Chanukah menorah, a torah pointer, a havdalah set, a tzedakah box, a seder plate, tallit clips, a magen david and other Jewish jewellery.
is when a Jewish girl becomes of age at 12-years-old and is recognized by Jewish tradition as having the same rights and responsibilities as a full grown woman. In Reform Judaism, a bat mitzvah takes place aged 13. The term bat mitzvah also refers to the religious ceremony that accompanies a girl becoming a Bat Mitzvah. Often a celebratory party will follow the ceremony and that party is also called a batmitzvah. The bat mitzvah girl will be given a variety of gifts for her Bat Mitzvah. Popular presents include Jewish gifts such as a magen david and other jewellery, Shabbat candlesticks, a Chanukah menorah, a havdalah set, a tzedakah box and a seder plate.
Besamim are the fragrant spices used for the havdalah prayer marking the end of Shabbat. Besamim/spice boxes are often highly decorated and are an item of focus for many Judaica artists.
is a Hebrew word that means “life”, spelled with the Hebrew letters het and yud. According to the gematria, a mystical tradition that assigns a numerological value to Hebrew letters, het and yud add up to 18, a number which represents good luck. Jewish people will often wear a Chai symbol on a necklace, sometimes with a Magen David or Hamsa.
is a special decorative cloth used to cover the two braided loaves/challot, set out on the table at the beginning of a shabbat or holiday meal. Like the challah cover, the challah board and challah knife are also sometimes attractively decorated. At the beginning of a shabbat or festive meal, a blessing must first be made over the wine in order to the sanctify the shabbat or holiday. This is followed by the blessing over the bread (challah), which begins the meal.
A challah board is a decorated bread board used for challah on Shabbat and festivals
A challah knife is a decorated bread knife used to cut the challah.
, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day festival beginning on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev. It commemorates the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt in the second century BCE. The festival is observed by kindling the lights of a nine-branched menorah, or chanukiah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. The typical chanukiah has a raised branch for the shamash (servant in Hebrew), which is used to kindle the lights. Giving gifts is not a traditional part of Chanukah, but has become common practice in many parts of the world. Some families give a small gift for every night of Chanukah. It is customary to eat fried foods, because of the significance of oil to the holiday. Latkes, or potato pancakes, and doughnuts are popular holiday foods.
Chanukiah/Chanukah menorah is one of the most popular Judaica items and many people even collect them. Lit chanukah menorahs fill the Jewish home with light and joy and many contemporary designers have created Chanukah menorahs in various styles from wood, metals, glass etc. Chanukah menorahs are often very colourful, which matches the joyful spirit of this special holiday. Chanukah menorahs make wonderful gifts for Bar/Bat Mitzvah, weddings new homes or other joyous occasions.
A Hamsa is an amulet shaped like a hand, which is thought to ward off the “evil eye”. It is a popular Jewish motif worn as jewellery or displayed in homes or work places.
marks the symbolic end of shabbat and holidays, and ushers in the new week. A special braided Havdalah candle with more than one wick is lit. Spices, often stored in a decorative spice container, are handed around so that everyone can smell the fragrance. Spice boxes for Havdalah are among the most beautifully embellished Jewish ceremonial objects. A Havdalah set is a popular item, comprising holders for the candle and spices and a cup for the wine.
Kiddush, which literally means “sanctification”, is the blessing made over a cup of wine or grape juice on shabbat or Jewish festival meals. It is also performed in synagogue so that anyone who is away from home during shabbat will have the opportunity to hear kiddush. After the person reciting the kiddush drinks from the wine – often from a decorative goblet – it is passed around the table or poured out into small cups for the other participants. Kiddush fountains are becoming a popular way of pouring the wine into smaller cups. A kiddush cup must hold a revi’it of liquid, the equivalent of 3.07 fluid ounces or 90.7 ml. A kiddush cup makes the perfect gift for a couple setting up a new Jewish home, or for a bar or bat mitzvah.
A kippah, or yarmulke, is usually made of cloth, and is often worn by Orthodox Jewish men to fulfill the customary requirement that the head be covered at all times. It is also worn by both men and, less frequently, women in the Conservative and Reform communities at times of prayer. Kippot (plural) come in a variety of colours and designs.
Many Jewish people wear a Magen David, or Star of David, as a symbol of Jewish identity. Traditionally those who wear a Magen David (literal translation, Shield of David) are believed to draw positive energy from it. The six-pointed star is made up of two overlapping triangles, representing the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
A Mezuzah, which is Hebrew for doorpost, is a decorative case containing a tiny parchment bearing the words of the Shema, the Jewish core statement of belief, beginning with the phrase: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is One”. A Mezuzah is fixed to the right side doorframe in Jewish homes to fulfil the mitzvah (biblical commandment) to inscribe the words of the Shema “on the doorposts of your house”. The parchment is prepared by a qualified scribe and the verses are written in black indelible ink with a special quill pen. The parchment is then rolled up and placed inside the case. Mezuzot come in a wide variety of styles and designs. Many Judaica artists have created Mezuzot as pieces of art.
Passover is one of the most important religious festivals in the Jewish calendar. Jews celebrate the feast of Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) to commemorate the liberation of the children of Israel after 110 years of slavery. Before Passover begins, the home is cleaned thoroughly to remove any traces of chametz (leaven). This commemorates the Jews leaving Egypt without having time to let their bread rise. The highlight of Passover is the seder meal when family and friends gather to celebrate and read from the haggadah the story of the Jew’s experience in Egypt and of their exodus to freedom. A number of decorative religious objects adorn the Pesach table, such as a Seder plate containing six symbolic foods, a Matzah plate, a Kiddush cup, and a Matzah cover and Afikomen cover.
is the seventh day of the Jewish week and is primarily a day of rest and spiritual enrichment. It is the most important ritual observance in Judaism, and is the only one instituted in the Ten Commandments. In a Jewish home, many families glorify Shabbat with decorative Shabbat candlesticks, Kiddush cup and Challah board.On Shabbat Jews recall the biblical account of creation in the book of Genesis, which describes G-d creating the heavens and the earth in six days and resting on the seventh. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night. In Jewish literature, poetry and music, Shabbat is described as a bride or queen, as in the popular Shabbat hymn Lecha Dodi Likrat Kallah (come, my beloved, to meet the [Sabbath] bride).
Shavuot is a holiday that celebrates the giving of the Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai. In the Bible, Shavuot is called the Festival of Weeks, the Festival of Reaping and the Day of the First Fruits. It is one of the three pilgrimage festivals, along with Pesach (Passover)and Succoth (Tabernacles). Shavuot always falls 50 days after the second night of Pesach. The 49 days in between are known as the Omer.
Sukkot is an eight-day harvest holiday, also known as the Festival of Booths and the Feast of Tabernacles. It is one of the three biblical foot festivals, shalosh regalim, when Jews made pilgrimages to worship at holy sites and gather in the Temple in Jerusalem.
The festival has agricultural origins when ancient Jews would build huts (sukkot) near the edge of their fields to provide shade and enable them to spend more time harvesting their crops. The Hebrew word sukkot is the plural of sukkah. The sukkah is a walled structure covered with flora that also serves as a reminder of the temporary dwellings in which the Jews lived during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after the exodus from Egypt. Since sukkot celebrates the harvest in the land of Israel, another custom involves waving the lulav and etrog, which together represent the Four Species. The etrog is a citron (related to a lemon), while the lulav is made of myrtle twigs (hadassim), willow twigs (aravot) and a palm frond (lulav).The etrog must be largely unblemished and its size and shape is of significance. Some people choose to keep their etrog in a decorated protective etrog box.
A Tallit is a Jewish prayer shawl worn during morning prayers on weekdays, shabbat and holidays. It is a white rectangular piece of fabric, usually made of wool, but sometimes of cotton, polyester or silk. It can be made of any materials except a mixture of wool and linen (a mixture known as shatnez that is prohibited by the Torah). On each of the four corners are special twined and knotted fringes known as tzitzit, which serve as a reminder of G-d’s commandments. A Tallit is usually kept in a decorative Tallit bag and is sometimes worn with decorative silver Tallit clips.
is celebrated in Israel as a holiday of love, similar to Valentine’s Day. It takes place on the fifteenth of the month of Av and is considered a very desirable date for Jewish weddings. In the days of the Temple, Tu Be’Av was a joyous holiday that marked the beginning of the grape harvest, when unmarried girls of Jerusalem would dress in white garments and go out and dance in the vineyards. Romantic gifts are often given on this day
The Tzedakah box and the tradition of giving charity are basic features of Jewish life. According to the ancient sages, the commandment of tzedakah is as important as all other commandments. The word tzedakah comes from the Hebrew word tzedek, which means righteous. A decorative tzedakah box is a prominent item in many Jewish homes.
A Yad (Hebrew word for "hand") is a decorated pointer, used in the synagogue to point to the text during the reading from the Torah scrolls. It is intended to prevent anyone from touching the parchment scrolls, which are considered sacred and can be damaged by the oils of the skin. A Torah pointer is a very popular Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gift.