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Judaism: Basic Beliefs & Clothing

To gain a better understanding of Judaism, becoming familiar with some of the basic beliefs is suggested. For starters, Jews hold onto an ultimate reality that there is One God (YHWH). The purpose of life is to follow a life that is obedient to God. Everyday life also involves obeying the law and atoning for sin. In the afterlife, the views of all Jews will vary. While some believe in a nonexistence, others believe in Gan Eden (Garden of Eden), or reincarnation.

Typical Clothing

With many religions, there are certain pieces of clothing associated with Judiasm. The ‘kippah’ is the brimless skullcap that is slightly rounded in shape that many Jewish men wear when they are praying, eating a meal, reciting their blessings, or studying religious texts. It is not uncommon to see a Jewish man wear the kippeh at all times. Today, you will also find that some women living in non-Orthodox communities will wear a ‘kippot,’ which actually ranges in size. Some are small and round (resembling a beanie), while others come as large snug caps that covers the entire crown.

The unique knotted “tassels” that decorate the four corners of the ‘tallit’ (prayer shawl) is worn by Jewish men and some Jewish women during times of prayer (especially during services). In regards to the tallit , there are various customs. For example, one living in a Sephardi community sees that the boys wear a tallit as soon as they reach bar mitzvah age. Other communities may require adherents to wear the tallit only after entering a marriage (as seen in some Ashkinazi communities).

A ‘kittel’ is a white over-garment that reaches the knees and is worn by prayer leaders and some observant traditional Jews during the High Holidays , usually Rosh Hashanah (known as the “Jewish New Year”) and Yom Kippur (referred to as the “Day of Atonement”). When following tradition, the head of the household will wear a kittel at the Passover seder. Some grooms will wear a kittel under the wedding canopy. These pieces of garment (along with the tallit) serve as traditional garments used in burial ceremonies.

Major Holidays

When it comes to celebrating major holidays, it is Rosh Hashanah (“Jewish New Year”); Yom Kippur (“Day of Atonement”); Sukkot (“Festival of Booths”); Hanukkah; Tu B’Shevat (“New Year for Trees”); Purim; Pesach (Passover); and Shavuot (Pentecost) are the holidays decorating the calendars of Jews.

Additional Jewish Religious Beliefs

Have you ever heard of the seven days of creation (Judaism-style)? In order, there was a separation of light from darkness; separation of water above and waters below; separation of land from water; then the Sun, moon, and stars came into the picture; sea creatures and birds were created; then land creatures and man; and then God rested.

As for the Ten Commandments, Jews believe in worshipping no other gods; not worshipping idols; not misusing the name of the Lord; keeping the Sabbath holy; honoring their father and mother; not committing murder; not committing adultery; not stealing; not giving false testimony; and not coveting.