The Importance of Sharing Religious Rituals in the Home for Jewish Families

The Importance of Sharing Religious Rituals in the Home for Jewish Families
The home is central to Judaism as it is the setting in which a husband and wife mature together and where children are taught about their religion through example and direct instruction. Both Orthodox and Liberal Jews will share rituals as a family at home but will not share the same attitudes and degree of discipline. This can lead to different behaviour. Sharing rituals in the home can bring a family closer together because they are spending time together and are unified by their faith. The Shabbat meal can bring the family together because the family are sharing the Challot and teaching and learning about their faith. This creates a sense of unity. The mother?s role in Shabbat, where she lights the candles to welcome the Sabbath, highlights the valued role of the mother and the religious importance of women. This may strengthen a Jewish family because the mother is shown to be a significant part of the festival and it is not just the men in the family who perform the rituals. The reciting of the Kiddush may unify the family as they are sharing a holy moment and all focusing on thanking God for giving Jews Shabbat. In Liberal households, where the Kiddush may be recited by a female, women may feel they have an important role, in the same way they might when they kindle the Sabbath lights.
When the wine, a symbol of sacrifice for the poor, is shared at the Shabbat meal, sharing the same thoughts may unify the family. When the Rabbi performs Havdalah to show separation of the Shabbat from other days, the Sabbath is shown to be special and this could bond a Jewish family because spending a special time with your family shows that your family is special. However, Shabbat may not strengthen a Jewish family but instead cause tension. This may be brought about by some family members, especially children and teenagers, not wanting to follow the Shabbat laws if they feel excluded from their friends. They may also resent the repetitiveness of the celebrating Shabbat every week. If the mother in a Jewish family grew to resent having to make such extensive preparations every week, this too could cause tension. Sharing this type of family ritual could become monotonous if performed weekly and I think I would come to feel anger towards my parents if they made me take part every week and stopped me from going out. On the other hand, spending time with your family may mean that you would get on better together and as I grew older I might come to appreciate their discipline towards these religious rituals. At Pesach, when Jews celebrate the Exodus from Egypt, the escape from slavery and the goodness of God for providing for them, all the family help with the preparations. The family remove all the chamez (leavened bread) from the house and make it into a game by hiding the pieces of bread. They also prepare the food for the Sedar meal and clean the house. During the Sedar meal, questions such as "Why is tonight different from all other nights?" are answered and everyone is encourage to ask or help answer them. At Sukkot families may build and decorate a Sukkah and during Hanukkah families exchange gifts and light the menorah. I think festival activities like these would be fun and there is no element of monotony as they take place only once a year. Even the seemingly less enjoyable rituals like preparing food and cleaning bring the family together, in the same way some families all help to cook the roast dinner at Christmas. At festivals the excitement of the forthcoming celebrations would probably dispel any tensions. By including all the family in the preparations for the festival, younger children will learn about their faith and this can bring about a sense of unity. However, sharing festivals as a family could bring tensions because children may have to take time during off school during festivals and if their friends don?t this may lead to them feeling isolated. Also, high expectations of the day, if not fulfilled, might lead to disappointment, especially in younger children. I think it would be easier to spend time with your family during festivals than it is to at Shabbat because festivals seem more enjoyable and take place only once a year, making them seem less repetitive. Even if you didn?t enjoy the shared activities of some festivals, you might just join in because it is only once a year and you didn?t want to cause arguments. I think that the benefits of spending time with your family, such as feeling closer to them and the sense of belonging, outweigh the difficulties. Brit Milah, the Rite of Passage that takes place in the home, can strengthen a Jewish family in many ways. Both parents have an active part in the ceremony and the father says a blessing. The child is passed around to hug before the ceremony, showing that all present will be an important part of his upbringing. The joy that a baby brings would unify a family and the ceremony reminds the parents of the huge support of their family and community in raising their child. Although other Rites of Passage do not take place primarily in the home, they all strengthen the Jewish faith and create a sense of family unity. On the other hand, Rites of Passage could create tension within the family as men tend to have a more prominent role in the rituals than women. Also, children may be jealous of the attention that their sibling receives. I think that close family events in the home can be good because they show that their faith is not confined to the synagogue or to Shabbat and festivals, but part of their whole life. However, I could also understand why Orthodox Jewish women might desire a more significant role in the rituals. There are other religious rituals that take place in the home that could strengthen the Jewish family. Keeping the Kashrut food laws could bond the family as they must all work together to ensure that no meat or dairy products come into contact with each other. Ritual dress such as the capel, tallit and tefillin provides more opportunities for parents to teach their children about their faith, as does the mezuzah. By teaching their children the Shema and the importance of the tefillin and mezuzah, parents are obeying the Torah "â??thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,â??" (Deuteronomy 6: 4-6) Teaching children about their faith will also strengthen family ties. Praying together, as a family, at home would bring about a sense of unity as they are sharing a very special time with those close to them. These rituals could, however, not have such a positive effect. The rituals of reciting the Shema, wearing tefillin and having a mezuzah may well lose their meaning because they are done, or worn, or seen, every day. Orthodox women may feel less important as they do not wear tefillin or the capel. Finding time to pray together may cause tension between family members if they have busy lives. Some families don?t even have time to eat their meals together, let alone to put a large amount of time aside to pray with their family. Keeping the Kashrut food laws I imagine to be very difficult for a family to do and I think I would feel guilty if I made any mistakes if I was preparing food. I think that with most of the everyday religious rituals, the benefits outweigh the difficulties. The mezuzah and tefillin may seem to lose their meaning but they are important to teach Jews monotheism, the basis of their religion, from an early age. The wearing of the capel and the tallit are important to remind Jews of respect for God and the mitzvot. However, do not think that there are significant benefits to keeping the Kashrut food laws because if a mistake is made, there is no way to correct it and whoever did something wrong would feel terrible. Also, if you invited non-Jewish friends to your house it may be awkward when making them food as you wouldn?t give them pork and would still have to follow the food laws. Of course, there are many ways in which a Jewish family can be strengthened besides religious rituals. Spending time together doing something everyone enjoys, for instance, playing a sport, could also unify a family. I think it would be very difficult growing up in a strict religious household as you would be less likely to see the long-term benefits of the discipline, such as a strong sense of faith. However, as I grew older I may come to appreciate how I was raised. I do not think that, overall, it easier for Orthodox Jews than it is for Liberal Jews because Liberal Jews can integrate more easily into non-Jewish society. I do think that Orthodox Jews benefit more than Liberal Jews from their strict discipline though, as the way they follow the faith and approach religious rituals in the home allow them to strengthen family ties more easily. The overall benefits for Judaism of keeping these religious rituals seem to be that Jews will carry on the faith and teach it to their children, always have a strong sense of family and of community and remain obedient to God.

The Importance of Sharing Religious Rituals in the Home for Jewish Families 6.9 of 10 on the basis of 1519 Review.