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

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Introduction

RE Coursework - Shabbat By Natasha Williams 9B a) Describe some of the different ways in which the Sabbath is observed in Jewish homes and in the synagogue. Shabbat (meaning to "cease" or "rest") is the impersonation of God by the Jews, as it commemorates God's completion of creation on the seventh day. It is also called in Yiddish, "Shabbes". Much emphasis is placed upon this day and preparation is essential before it begins. Synagogues hold a service on the Saturday morning and Jews get ready for events - such as the evening meal - within the home. It is celebrated 52 times a year and still remains as one of the most important festivals in the Jewish calendar. This is probably due to the fact that the Ten Commandments instruct Jews to keep the Sabbath: "Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it. Six days shall you work and accomplish all your work, but the seventh day is Sabbath to Hashem your God. You shall not do any work," Exodus 20:8-9. In the home, Shabbat is prepared for in five ways. The house is cleaned and tidied by the children and the table is set with the best cutlery, crockery and candlesticks. Wine and challot (Shabbat loaves, which are plaited and represent the manna given to the people by God) are set on the table too. They are covered with a cloth ("decke") in order to represent the dew, which fell in the desert. However, there are different versions of this, as some believe it dresses the challot as a bride. This is because Shabbat is called a Queen in God's kingdom but is also the Bride of Israel. The last belief is that the challot mustn't see the wine being blessed first as it may be offended. The woman of the house would put all the previously prepared food on a blech, which is a sheet of metal over the cooker, to stop the food burning. ...read more.

Middle

It really gives a sense of belonging and reminds them they are the chosen people of God. Sabbath can be celebrated in both the home and the synagogue, which strengthens the family's bonds because they are able to spend time together, be it when they pray, when they eat together or when the parents teach the children as they read the Chumash. The family can also contribute to the community and feel peaceful with love surrounding them. People can eat, sing and pray together, which increases the bond, giving a sense of security. It unites Jews as a family and a race and goes back to ancient tradition, so all Jews have done this since childhood. Orthodox Jews, who feel it necessary to follow all mitzvot despite the fact that some are "out-dated", may find Shabbat to be a slight inconvenience as it means that they can't, for example, go shopping. However, they do it to show love for God in perhaps the most extreme fashion. It helps them remember their past and the hard times the ancient Israelites went through in the wilderness most effectively. The Shabbat meal is also symbolic of this because certain foods represent various happenings. For example, the challot loaves represent the manna from heaven that the Jews received. It also represents the covenant again, for it is a time of worship and rest, symbolic of God's resting after the days of creation. Each member of the family has a specific role on the Sabbath, which would give a sense of purpose and might make the family feel as though their teamwork helps to praise God. They can help each other and please their Lord simultaneously. It is a time for rejoicing and would make one feel important. The mother is in charge of lighting the candles and the children receive blessings from the father. The preparation is the work done in anticipation of Shabbat, for it is stated that no work shall be done on the Sabbath so time can be devoted to God and the family. ...read more.

Conclusion

Surely she is special if she has the honour of welcoming the festival into her home? Orthodox Jews may say that rituals in the home are very important for family life because when the preparation of the kosher food takes place, for example, it takes many people to do it correctly and accurately. If it weren't for the unity of the family then the job would be much more difficult if it were left to one person. Some Reform or Liberal Jews, however, may say that family life can be strengthened in other ways, not necessarily in the home. For example, during a wedding the family gathers to celebrate the joining of two people. Surely this has the same effect? However, weddings are not a weekly happening and so the family do not get to spend as much time together. Personally I feel that rituals and festivals in the home would benefit any family, for in this modern world it is rare for a family to have the novelty of no work in order to celebrate such things. I understand it can be difficult for Jews, as society has changed greatly but unity is important in any era. However, the rituals can also be celebrated neither in the home or synagogue. For example, if someone is homeless then they have to find alternative ways of celebration in which case the building is not needed. In addition, the synagogue can be just as "effective" as the home. It is God's home so surely this would unite Jews to each other and to God? This is not achieved as intimately in the home because it belongs to the family not God. A pilgrimage to Jerusalem could be beneficial as opposed to celebrations in the home too. This is because the Western Wall is situated here and when Jews visit a place of such holiness it must give them a sense of attachment to Jewish history. This would therefore connect the family on a religious level and shows how their faith in Judaism can affect their relationships. ...read more.

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