The Shabbat prayer with candles

Holidays are especially important element of Jewish religious practice. A week ends with the Sabbath, the holy day or prayer and rest, which the Torah bids to observe remembering how God created the world in the course of six days and them on the seventh He rested. The Torah points out that on this day rest should be granted to the whole family, servants and even domestic animals.

Ritual dishes for a seder on Pesach

The autumn is the time of festivity. Rosh ha-Shana - the New Year, Jom Kipur - Judgement or Redemption day, and a merry festival Simchat Torah - the joy of Torah are celebrated in this period. Hanukah - the days dedicated to remembrance of the victory of Jews against Greeks, who sought to thrust on Jews polytheistic Hellenism, is celebrated in the winter. The central holiday in the spring is Pesach, devoted to remember the liberation from Egyptian slavery. The traditional dinner, held on the first, the second and the sixth evening of this seven-day festival, is called Seder. During Seder the head of the family reads loud the story of exodus from Egypt - the hagadah. Macah - scones of flour and water - are eaten instead of bread on Pesach, since, according to the story, while in a hurry to escape Egypt Jews did not manage to bake for themselves another kind of bread.

A boy is circumcised (in Hebrew brit mila) on the eight day after his birth.
A very important family festival is son's thirteenth birthday, which according to religious tradition is considered to be his majority. At this age a boy is ready to follow all commandments of the Torah as any other adult male. Therefore both the holiday and the boy are called bar micvah - "the son of commandments".

One of the most distinctive features of Jewish religious life are laws on food, called kashrut (from Hebrew kosher - proper). These laws are based on explanation about clean and dirty animals and the ways of preparing meals (it is forbidden to mix dairy and meat products, use pork and some other kinds of meat, drink wine produced in disagreement with required rituals etc.) that can be found in the Torah, especially in Deuteronomy.


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Jews in Lithuania, Vilnius, 1999-2000