Eight Days after the birth of a boy, a brit, or ritual circumcision, is held, usually at the home. To mark the birth of a girl, a baby naming ceremony is often held, either at the synagogue or at home. These are times of great celebration for families. A mezuzah for the baby's room, a tzedukah box, or a kiddush cup are all appropriate gifts for the new baby.
A Bar Mitzvah usually takes place when a boy is 13; a Bat Mitzvah is typically held anytime after a girl turns 12. The event celebrates the induction of the emerging adult into the Jewish community, at which point in their life he or she can assume the responsibilites of observing the commandments of the Torah. At the synagogue service, the child is called upon to chant from the Torah. Appropriate gifts include a kiddush cup, tallis clips, a tzedukah box, Sabbath candleholders, or a yad (torah pointer).
A wedding or anniversary is a wonderful opportunity for giving Jewish ritual objects! The ceremony takes place under a chupah or wedding canopy. During the marriage ceremony, the ketubah (marriage contact) is read and rings are exchanged. Traditionally, this is the first step two people take in establishing a Jewish home. By using beautiful Jewish ceremonial objects--candlesticks, a kiddush cup, a challah board and knife, a challah cover, a havdalah set, a menorah, an etrog box, a seder plate, Elijah's cup, and Jewish books--the new couple demonstrates the importance of Judaism in their lives. At the end of the ceremony, the groom steps on a glass. The guests shout "Mazel Tov!" and the ceremony is complete. The breaking of the glass can be interpreted in a number of ways, the most common being that the glass reminds us of sadness even during the most joyous of occasions. Be sure to view our Broken Wedding Glass Collection.
Every Friday night and Saturday, by observing the Sabbath, Jews try to emulate God, who for six days created the world, but on the seventh day rested. Jews greet this holy day in a royal manner and welcome it with a beautiful table and blessings over candles, wine, and bread, followed by a nice meal. Shabbat consists of rest, prayer, and spirituality.
Traditionally, a mezuzah is affixed to the doorframe of a new home within 30 days after moving in. Often the occasion for a beautiful ceremony, the mezuzah-hanging can set the tone for a Jewish home. The Gary Rosenthal Collection has created special mezuzot especially for the new home. You can view our mezuzot here. Also appropriate would be menorot, a challah board or Sabbath candle holders, candleboxes or other thoughtful gifts.
The Jewish New Year celebrates the creation of the world and the proclamation of God as its king. It is also known as the Day of Judgement. The shofar (ram's horn) is blown in synagogue and it is customary to eat round challah, symbolizing the continuity of life, and to dip apples into honey for a sweet and pleasant New Year.
The Day of Atonement is the most solemn and holiest day of the Jewish year. The day is spent fasting, praying, reflecting, and committing oneself to a worthy cause.
Celebrates the gathering of the harvest, and commemorates the forty year period during which the Jews wandered in the desert. The word Sukkot means booths, referring to the temporary dwelling places in which Jews are commanded to live for seven days. In addition to living, or at least eating, in a sukkah, a blessing is said on each day of the holiday over a lulav (palm frond) and lemon-like etrog.
The Festival of Lights commemorates the recapturing of the Holy Temple from the Syrian-Greeks after a long period of war. The miracle of Hanukkah is that a small amount of oil, sufficient to light the menorah for one day, lasted for eight days. Today a menorah is lit for eight nights to publicize this miracle. Other traditions include eating oily foods, like potato latkes and jelly doughnuts, exchanging gifts, and playing dreidel.
Commemorates how, through Queen Esther's bravery, the Jews of Persia were saved from annihilation by the evil Haman. The story of Megillat Esther is read aloud in synagogue and the joy of the day is amplified by wearing costumes, sending food to friends, giving gifts to the poor, and eating a festive meal. Eating hamentaschen (three cornered pastries) is also a delicious Purim tradition.
Celebrates the redemption of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The story is told interactively at a seder (ceremonial meal) where the Haggadah (book of prayers and the story of Passover) is read aloud and discussed and many symbolic foods are eaten. Leavened bread is forbidden throughout the holiday and matzah is eaten instead.
Celebrates the monumental communal revelation when the Torah was given to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai. The Torah portion containing the Ten Commandments is read in synagogue, as is the Book of Ruth, which tells the story of Ruth, a righteous convert who faithfully accepted the Torah, just as the Jewish people assumed responsibility for following the Torah at Sinai.