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Describe some of the different ways in which Shabbat is observed in Jewish homes and the synagogue.

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Introduction

A) Describe some of the different ways in which Shabbat is observed in Jewish homes and the synagogue. Every week Jews have a day of rest known as the Sabbath. Jews usually call it Shabbas or Shabbat, coming from the Hebrew root Shin-Bet-Tav meaning to cease, to end or to rest. Shabbat begins at sunset on Friday evening and ends on Saturday night when the stars appear. Shabbat is the Hebrew name for the seventh day of the week. When God made the world he rested on the seventh day, "By the seventh day God finished what he had been doing and stopped working. He blessed the seventh day and set it apart as a special day, because by that day he had completed his creation and stopped working." (Genesis 2: 2-3). The fourth of the Ten Commandments, sacred to both Jews and Christians, commands 'observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have six days in which to do your work but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me' (Exodus 20:8-10). This is why Jews have made resting on the seventh day of the week a tradition in commemoration of God resting on the seventh day of creation. Shabbat is a holy day for them concerned with both remembering (zachor) and observing (shamor). First of all, I intend to explain how Shabbat is observed in Jewish homes and then how Shabbat is observed in the Synagogue. ...read more.

Middle

Manna appeared each day outside the tents of the ancient Israelites when they were journeying through the desert after escaping from Egypt. On Friday God gave the Israelites double portions and the double loaves at Shabbat represent this. The challot have twelve plaits to represent the twelve loaves of bread that were laid out in the Temple on the eve of each Shabbat. God also commanded the Israelites to save some manna to keep for their descendents so they would be able to see the food that was eaten when the Israelites were brought out of Egypt (Exodus 16:32-33). During the meal challot is cut and the pieces lightly dipped in salt and passed around. Special foods are eaten and families often sing table hymns called zemirot, and tell stories. Hopefully the family can feel relaxed and enjoy each other's company. On Saturday the midday meal is very much like the one the night before. There is a blessing over the challot and families often share more stories with each other. The rest of the day is spent relaxing and enjoying the company of families and friends, it is also a time for religious study. After nightfall the woman of the house performs Havdallah (meaning 'division') a ceremony that marks the end of Shabbat. During this colourful ceremony people gather to say goodbye to Shabbat by lighting a special candle, drinking wine and smelling sweet spices from spice boxes. ...read more.

Conclusion

After this the rabbi gives a sermon. This might be about something in the Sidra or about something in the news. Afterwards there is another service, known as Musaf, which takes place on new moons and festivals. As people leave the synagogue at the end of this service they again wish each other a Shabbat of peace. Later in the afternoon there are fairly short afternoon prayers where the first part of the next weeks Torah is read. Usually only the men attend this service. The women often attend a study circle at a neighbour's house. The neighbours take turns to host it. Once the stars have appeared on Saturday night, Shabbat is over and the congregation say the prayers that they would at a weekday evening service. They ask for God's blessing over the next week. The rabbi performs Havdallah at the end of the service to mark the end of the holy day. Blessings are said over a cup of wine, spices and a candle. Wine is a symbol of joy, spices symbolise the sweetness of Shabbat and the candle symbolises the light of Shabbat. The blessing shows that Jews are allowed to light fire once again. "He says one last blessing over the wine, and the separation of the holy day from the ordinary is completed." (Examining Religions, Judaism) These symbolic rituals have demonstrated the different ways that the celebration of Shabbat is observed by individual families in the home and by the wider Jewish community in Synagogues throughout the world. 1 ...read more.

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