Some Common Jewish Traditions and Symbols
The Jewish people set themselves apart from the societies they inhabit by practicing certain traditions. These Jewish traditions can include dietary restrictions or observances of certain days that they consider to be sacred or worth remembering. Many of these holidays are based on wars and remembrances of past mistreatment of their people.
One of these traditions is to welcome their children into adulthood through the practice of a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah. This celebration is held at 13 for boys and at age 12 for girls. This celebration can be coupled with a celebration at the synagogue that is called a confirmation.
During this time, the children are to become responsible for the observation of the commandments. Before this age, children are encouraged to observe the commandments in order to grow, but they are not responsible to do so.
In modern times, many children learn the haftarah portion of the Torah, rather than reciting a simple blessing. They also learn the traditional chant that is a part of this section of their holy book. The father of the child will thank their God that they are no longer responsible for the sins of their children.
This is because it is assumed that the children are now responsible for their own sins. Oftentimes, male children will also thank their God that they have not been born a woman.
Another tradition is the celebration of Hanukkah. This holiday is also known as the Festival of Lights because it involves lighting candles. The festival takes place over an eight day period and a candle is lit for each day. Many Jewish families will exchange a gift on each of the days.
In America, this holiday often falls around Christmas time and so, the gift giving has increased in this country. This holiday celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple. The Temple needed to be rededicated because it was defiled by Seleucid Greeks. Another popular holiday that occurs around Easter time is Pesach.
This is one of three different pilgrimage festivals. This holiday celebrates the Jewish people leaving Egypt on their way to the Promise Land. In English, this holiday is also known as Passover. During the ancient times, a lamb was usually sacrificed in the Temple.
Another Jewish Tradition is known as a bris. This takes place for male children. It involves the removal of the foreskin of the penis. This happens 8 days after the child is born. While the traditional law states that the father must perform the circumcision, most fathers have a mohel perform the act. In orthodox traditions, the mohel will use his mouth to remove some blood from the penis. Less traditional Jews will use a suction device to remove the blood.
There are a variety of Jewish symbols that are recognized around the world. The Star of David is the most widely known and it is used on the flag of the country of Israel. Other Jewish symbols include the Menorah and the wearing of a Yarmulke. The Chai symbol, from the Hebrew alphabet is commonly used as a symbol of life and good luck.