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Monday, 25 May 2009 10:40

Bar / Bat Mitzvah - Literally, "son / daughter of the commandment," it means that a boy / girl is old enough to be responsible for mitzvoth (the obligation of Jewish life).  Although a child becomes a Bar / Bat Mitzvah simply by reaching his / her 13th birthday, it has become customary through the years for that child to be called to the Torah to signify the "coming of age."  Though they may have studied Torah in school and learned its lessons, this is the first time they are actually called for an Aliyah (ascent to the bimah to say the blessings over the Torah scroll), and then to chant the Haftarah (reading of a section from the Prophets for a particular Shabbat).  Finally, the Bar / Bat Mitzvah delivers a D'var Torah, which is a sermon or commentary that relates to the weekly Torah or Haftarah portion.

Kippah - A head covering.  Also called a Yarmulka or skullcap, it represents our respect for God and his sanctuary.  Every male, upon entering the sanctuary, should be wearing a kippah.  It is an option for women.

Talit - This four-cornered prayer shawl can symbolize many things, including the four corners of the world.  The knotted fringes represent a reminder of all 613 of the commandments God expects of us.  Every Jewish male over the age of thirteen is requested to wear a talit.  It is an option forwomen.

Bimah - The raised platform in synagogues from which the service is conducted.

Siddur - The daily prayer book.

Chumash - The Pentateuch, which is the book in which the Torah or the Five Books of Moses are printed.

Torah - Literally, "teaching" or "direction."  Specifically, the first part of the Hebrew Bible that is read from the scroll (The Five Books of Moses).  The Torah symbolizes the moment when God met the Jewish people at Sinai and made a covenant with them.

Haftarah - Means the "completion."  The reading of a section from the Prophets for a particular Shabbat.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 September 2009 14:16