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What is Judaica

What is Judaica? Easily explained with images

What is Judaica and what does it mean?

Judaica is defined as a term used in Jewish religious rituals or customs. It is an essential thing for Jews, referring to their rituals or ceremonial art. However, Judaica includes some striking objects to perform rituals and special events, e.g., Mitzvah, because this is a manner of Jewish for honoring God and his directive.

List of Jewish Judaica items

1.      Kiddush Cup and it’s meaning

Kiddush Cup is one of the most common Judaica items that should be present in a Jewish home. It is a significant thing that you will find in every major Jewish Festival; whether the events, Shabbat (Saturday), holiday, Brit Mila (circumcision) or weddings, a kiddush cup includes blessings over wine that complete a ritual. The Kiddush cup is used to bless the wine. The blessing on the wine is called kiddush.

In Hebrew, the word “kiddush” and the word “kadosh” (holy) are from the same root. That is, we bless the wine and it is part of the sacredness of the Sabbath or the holiday. During the Sabbath and holiday, the wine is blessed three times, on the evening, the morning after and at the end of the day. Usually the kiddush cup is silver and is for kiddush only.

A glass made of silver conveys importance and respect for the consecration, although it is not necessary and one can certainly use a glass. In families with children, there is a large kiddush cup and other small cups for the kids, so they can drink some wine or sweet grape juice. .

Different styles of Kidush cups

However, over time, the manifestation of styles has brought numerous options for buyers, ultimately during seasons of Jewish festivals, artisans and artists strive to craft something new with more attractive designs. Now, you can see an assortment of options, whether online or offline, in selling Judaica items. The makers try to represent Kiddush cups with something new.

Blue Yeled Tov Kidush Cup
Blue Yeled Tov Kidush Cup – Click here for details
Silverplated Etched Stemmed Kiddush Cup with Saucer
Silverplated Etched Stemmed Kiddush Cup with Saucer – Click here for details
Kidush cup and plate set
Kidush cup[ and plate set – Click here for details

2.      Candlestick Holders

Candlesticks are designed to hold Shabbat or holiday candles. The Shabbat or holiday candles are usually lit at the Shabbat / holiday entrance, before sunset. After lighting the candles they should not be touched or moved.

The candlesticks are a classic and necessary a Judaica item in every Jewish home. Even for non-religious Jews. Everyone lights candles on such another occasion. Candlesticks are designed to hold Shabbat or holiday candles. The Shabbat or holiday candles are usually lit at the Shabbat / holiday entrance, before sunset. After lighting the candles they should not be touched or moved.

It is customary for the woman to light the Shabbat candles and bless them, though men can light Shabbat candles as well. After the blessing, it is customary to ask for a wish. At least two Shabbat candles are lit and many families often light more candles, sometimes a pair for each family member, or a pair of candles for each child. Of course every pair of candles need a pair of candlesticks.

Different types of Candlestick holders

There are different types of candlesticks and the variety is huge. The diversity is reflected in the size of the candlesticks, their shape, the number of nests and the material from which they are made.

Anodized Aluminum Candle Holders
Anodized Aluminum Candle Holders – Click here for details
Waterford Treviso Candlestick 8″ Pair – Click here for details
Star of David Traveling Shabbat Candle Holders – Click here for details

3.      The Havdalah Spice Box

The Jewish spice box is quite a simple box mainly used on the occasions of Havdalah. Havdalah is a prayer that is said at the end of the Sabbath or holiday, after sunset, when three first stars can be seen in the sky. The Havdalah aims to differentiate between the holy day and the weekday. The difference is similar to kiddush, but the content of the prayer is different.

At the time of Havdalah, it is customary to smell natural perfumes, such as basil or clovesץ Basil usually comes fresh and therefore holds it in hand during the Havdalah but the cloves is dried and stored in a small box that is used every end of Saturday or holiday for the Havdalah. While blessing the perfumes, shake the box to make it smell good and disperse in the air.

Different types of Havdalah spice boxs

It was traditionally made from wood and decorated ornately with distinctive designs. The Jewish spice box takes the flower shape completed with leaves, wooden petals, and stems. In the center of the petals’ ring, it consists of space for the spices.

4.      Seder plate

An essential part of any Passover tradition, Seder plate, has its unique theory. It’s rich with its iconic history, symbolism, and meaning.

What does the Seder plate represent?

Over the time, plenty of modern, new twists or additions are get to be seen to in the formation of seder plate, when we talk traditionally about the seder plate. It contains six main things: the karpas, shank bone, Chazeret and Maror, egg, and charoset. But now most of the seder plates have started to come with some painted figures of these six items. So it is based on the choice which one you want.  However, describing these foods over the plate also has some significant reasons.

Six items importance on seder plates

Maror and Chazeret – It is a tradition that two bitter type herbs presented on the plate remind seder participants of the slavery bitterness in Egypt. Some specific vegetables are also used.

Karpas – Usually, the vegetable that is utilized for Karpas is either celery or parsley. The Karpas is dipped into the saltwater at the beginning of the process of Seder and later eaten. Ultimately, it symbolizes the shedding of Jewish people’s tears during their slavery.

Beitzah (The egg) – It is not eaten, but it signifies something special. On the seder plate, it refers to an individual’s sacrifice made during Jewish festival, the Corban Chagiha.

Zeroah (The shank bone) – Usually, it is a lamb shank bone, and this is an indication of the Korban Pesach. Although in the Bible, at the time of the exodus story, it is was first mentioned about the Pesach offering.  In Jerusalem, in the period of Temple, Jews brought a lamb later at the seder time eating it as a Pesach offering.

Charoset – Charoset is a substance like a paste, generally made with fruits mixture, wine spices, and nuts. It symbolizes to represent the Israelites mortar that they used during their slavery to build edifices for the Egyptians. As with the bitterness of some other seder plate offerings in its sweet taste, it is a popular substance among those attending evening shows.

These items are the centerpiece of the Seder plate that is also a famous ritual of Jewish cultures. Same as candlestick holder, Seder plate can be found in every Jewish home and it is an important item in the Judaica world

Aluminum Multicolor Stone Inlay Round Seder Plate
Aluminum Multicolor Stone Inlay Round Seder Plate – Click here for details
Melamin Seder plate
Melamine Seder plate – Click here for details

Seder plate
Seder plate – Click here for details

5.      Challa cover

Challah covers are usually made from fabric. This cover is frequently embroidered with machine or hand and also painted, tie-dyed, or appliqued. They are sometimes embellished with frills or tied with gold or silver thread.

However, it is essential that the challah cover should be large so that bread can’t get to see through the sides, and also it must be thick enough so that the bread loaves can’t become visible through the fabric.

Meaning of Challah Cover

So, mainly a challah cover is a particular cloth that also comes in various styles and used to cover challah (two braided loaves) entirely. At the event of Yom Tov (holiday) meal or in the beginning of Shabbat, these loaves of bread along with challah cover are set out on the table.

Different styles of Challa cover

Whereas with decorative designs, it is also brought into use for ceremonial events. Its existence serves both symbolic function and a halakhic. Over time, along with challah bread, the challah bread’s cover has also started to come in numerous styles. Now you can find the challah bread according to your own choice. Not only challah bread cover, but challah bread plate is also a striking Judaica artwork that also enlists into the most popular item in Judaica collection. With designs, these things represent the Jewish religion.

 Blue Seven Species Challah Cover
Blue Seven Species Challah Cover – Click here for details
White & Blue Embroidered Filigree Challah Cover
White & Blue Embroidered Filigree Challah Cover – Click here for details
Fabric Collage Challah Cover
Fabric Collage Challah Cover – Click here for details

6.      Mezuzah case

Mezuzah belongs from ancient times, and its origin belongs to the Torah. It is a beautiful plus intricate Jewish object meant to mark the Jewish homes’ doorposts. Mezuzah includes two parts; the mezuzah parchment, also known as Klaf, and the mezuzah case.

Brief about Mezuzah case

The Klaf enclosed in the interior of the case is adorned with specific verses in Hebrew, that belongs to the Shema prayer sections beginning with the Shema Yisrael that are also known as the most famous Jewish prayer words. On the other hand, there are numerous complex and strict laws surrounding the mezuzah scroll preparation.

Besides, you can also see delicate mezuzah cases in some decorative forms. For instance, as they can create with the multiplicity of materials that often vary from simple Mezuzah cases made of plastic to the masterpieces of those cases made from glass, sterling silver, wood, and stone, etc.

Elite Mezuzah
Elite Mezuzah – Click here for details
Kotel Mezuzah
Kotel Mezuzah – Click here for details
Lasercut Pomegranate Mezuzah - Red With Silver Overlay
Lasercut Pomegranate Mezuzah – Red With Silver Overlay  – Click here for details

Mezuzahs have two purposes

Mezuzahs are meant to remind the covenant between God and each one of the Jewish people, mark a home as a Jewish family. Mezuzah parchments have been written by professional and highly trained Sophers (author), who pay careful attention to each text.

When the Klaf has been done, the parchment will be put into a Mezuzah case by rolling it up. Plus it is also required that it shouldn’t be fully sealed though, because at least once or twice every seven years, parchments will be inspected with the concern to know their harm or defects.

How to use the Mezuzahs case?

The mezuzah case is placed on top of the right side, with the top of the mezuzah at an angle towards the inside of the room. It is customary to keep Mezuzah at every doorway except for bathrooms and small closures.

Different types of Mezuzah

There are countless different types of Mezuzahs. The Klaf is always the same, but the Mezuzah can be very different. There is the usual standard type, made of plain plastic, there are metal Mezuzahs, there are wooden Mezuzahs, there are wood and glass combinations. Many Jews believe that the Mezuzah guarding the house and bring good luck, so they are investing in the Mezuzah and check the Klaf from time to time to see that the parchment on the card has not been blurred or deleted.

10 Commandments Mezuzah 24k Gold Plated Jewish 2.7" Mezuza
10 Commandments Mezuzah 24k Gold Plated – Click here for more details
Judaica Gold Plated Mezuzah and Scroll
Gold Plated Mezuzah and Scroll – Click here for details
Judaica brass Mezuzah with Hebrew Parchment
Brass Mezuzah with Hebrew Parchment – Click here for details

7.      Star of David

Star of David or also you can spell ‘Magen David’ is a Jewish symbol that identifies their identity. This symbol has a star-like appearance having six sides. However, the star with five point sides is considered for decoration purposes or considered to be a magical sign and has nothing to do with the Jewish symbol.

What does the star of David signify?

In the middle ages, the Star of David didn’t belong to any particular religion; indeed, it was founded in medieval cathedrals. Although, the word Megan David signifies ‘God as the guard of David’ in Jewish liturgy.

In the Star of David (Magen David), the symbol of the double triangle represents the both dimensions’ connection of God, which is Israel and Torah.

The soul’s external level connects to the G-D external expression via learning the Torah esoteric parts; through the application and study of the Kabbalah teachings, the essence of the soul unites with the essence of G-D. The Star of David consists of seven compartments that are as follows.

  • Hod (Splendor),
  • Chesed (Kindness),
  • Gevurah (Severity),
  • Netzach (Perseverance),
  • Tiferet (Harmony),
  • Malchut (Royalty) & Yesod (Foundation)

Why is it important for Jews?

In Jewish culture, it is also a belief that the star of David also symbolizes the merging of female and male and also considered to be the elements of fire and water.

Fourseven 925 Sterling Silver Star Of David Charm Pendant for Men and Women – Click here for details
Sterling Silver Rhodium-Plated Mother of Pearl Star of David Necklace
Sterling Silver Rhodium-Plated Mother of Pearl Star of David Necklace – Click here for details
Love N Legacy 18K White Gold Plated 925 Sterling Silver Necklace and Zirconia Stone Pendant for Women
Love N Legacy 18K White Gold Plated 925 Sterling Silver Necklace and Zirconia Stone Pendant for Women – Click here for details

8.      Dreidel

The Dreidel is a game that probably came to England with the soldiers of the Roman Empire. The Dreidel was used for gambling games. The Jews changed the letters that appeared on the Dreidel into four Hebrew letters that saying: a great miracle was here,

The Dreidel was a very popular game for kids but you could say it lost a bit of its glamour in the age of internet and smartphones. Still, it remains one of the distinct symbols of Chanukah.

Dreidle game function

However, Dreidel game has its own importance- the game is played something in a way in which you spin the top and expect where and how it will land. But today how the game is played, it’s ultimately different from its origin.

On the four sides of the Dreidle, you’ll be seeing – Noon (נ), Gimel (ג), Hey (ה) and Pai (פ) for the Hebrew phrase “A big miracle happened here” that forms an acronym, that is, the Chanukah miracle, the victory of the Jews over the Greek Empire and the little oil-tin miracle that was supposed to light the Temple Menorah for one day and light it for eight days, until they produced new oil.

Different types of Dreidels

There are many types of spinning tops. The old raccoons we used to play as kids were made of wood. Later, plastic soybeans began to appear. Finally, the electronic spinning tops appeared with the lights and music.

9.      Tree of life

The symbol, Tree of life, is an important thing that is used by several mythologies, theologies, and philosophies. Although, it points towards the connection between earth, underworld, and heaven. However, numerous murals manifest it with their view.

What does the Tree of life represent?

The Tree of life is a term you can see in the Hebrew Bible, where it is briefly mentioned. The Tree of life is first described in verse 9 of chapter 2 in the Book of Genesis. However, the symbol tree of life is also famous worldwide because of its significant meaning that makes it well-accepted among various religions and cultures. Besides, the symbol represents multiple-meanings:

·         A connection to everything

·         Ancestry, Family, and Fertility

·         Growth and Strength

·         Individuality

·         Immortality and Rebirth

·         Peace

The Tree of Life symbolizes a term that nourishes and sustains life in Judaism. It is presented in a way that was planted by Yahweh that stands in between the fruitful garden center. The Jews people like to display the painting of the Tree of life on the walls of their house.

10.  Hamsa Hand

Today people have started to come up with the Hamsa symbol in their fashion trends, and you’ll be seeing a hand like structure that people wear as a bracelet in their hands or as a necklace. But mainly it is the wall hanging that is also designed with colorful beads and adorned with happiness, blessings for love, prosperity, health, and luck.

What is the importance of Hamsa Symbol?

The symbol of Hamsa is believed to be the hand of God that has its history from ancient times. The symbol is considered to be very divine since it guards us against negative forces. Whereas, as a symbol of protection and luck, it’s been also becoming a popular decorative item throughout Jewish jewelry as well as art.

Judaica item - Chakra Hamsa bracelet
Chakra Hamsa bracelet – Click here for details
Judaica Hamsa wall tapestry
Hamsa tapestry – click here for more details

Judaica wall hanging Hamsa
Wall hanging Hamsa – Click here for details

Hamsa Hand Meaning – Judaism

The Hamsa hand in Judaism represents the Torah’s five holy books.

Hamsa Hand facing up

Wearing Hamsa Hand facing upward not only protects us from evil or negative forces but also stops us from being negative or harm others.

Hamsa Hand facing down

The Hamsa hand facing downward represents abundance and good fortune. Specifically, it is being worn by people to bring happiness in their life.

11.  Evil Eye

In the Hebrew language, the evil eye is also denoted as Ayin Hara that refers to the type of energy that is dangerous and harmful, which originates from the inside of a human that is against someone.

It is a strong belief in Jewish culture that wearing an evil eye jewelry protects us from all those negative forces. Just like numerous other symbols, the evil eye is also represented with a variety of theories among diverse cultures and customs.

How evil eye jewelry works?

As everyone is familiar that evil eye brings sorrow and bad fortune and to come out from this problem, they felt the need for something that could guard them against these evil or negative energies.

As a result, ancient Jewish communities developed some ornaments displayed with eye icons in them. These eye icons are believed to protect them from all things that frighten a person. Along with this, you can also wear a pendant or bracelet with an eye symbol if you also want to protect yourself from evil powers.

A lot of styles are also coming into the market that you can wear according to your outfit. But wearing this eye icon will always remind you of its importance, the history that makes people wear this.

However, different customs and different religions have their own theory behind wearing an evil eye icon. But Jewish culture defines exactly what is. If you also want to protect your family from the evil eye, you should have this.

12.  Chai Symbol

The symbol of Chai refers to ‘Life.’ For instance, the word ‘Chai’ symbolizes life’s importance. People adorn the word ‘Chai’ as a style icon in their jewelry. But if we split the phrase Chai into two parts, then it is made with Chet (ח) and Yud (י).

Significance of the symbol of Chai

The Symbol of Chai has a very vital role in Jewish life; besides, it is a symbol that has its origin from ancient times. Mainly the symbol ‘Chai’ represents good luck and speaks about life. Moreover, in Judaism, giving Chai’ as a gift is considered to be the best that no one refuses, whether they receive or give.

On the occasion of remembrance of loved ones or even on the different events’ celebration, the symbol Chai is well acceptable gifting it to an individual or in the event of honoring him or her.  

In Jewish jewelry, the Chai symbol is recognized to be very common. However, there are numerous items adorned with this symbol that include Tree of life, cross sign, or evil eye that are worn as a bracelet or as a piece of specific jewelry.

13.  Pomegranate

If you have listened about the seven species of Israel, then Pomegranate is one of them. Yes, Pomegranate is one of the seven species that are, wheat, grapes, barley, figs, dates, and olives. You’ll see Pomegranate as a decorative item in most of the Jew’s homes.

About pomegranate symbol

Traditionally, the Pomegranate symbolizes love and fertility in Jewish culture. At the top of numerous Torah scrolls, you will often get to see the decorative ornaments covers called Rimonim (Hebrew word for Pomegranate) covered in pomegranates shape.

The Pomegranate is also one of those several foods that are symbolic and include a ritual for Rosh Hashanah dinner. Traditionally, Jews say before the pomegranate seeds eating, “As the pomegranate is full of seeds, may we be as full of mitzvot (commandments).”  On the Rosh Hashanah’s second night, many Jews use Pomegranate since it signifies blessings of a new fruit that people had not eaten for a long time.

Various decorative items are coming in the market pertaining Pomegranate symbol that will always remind you of the importance of this precise species. 

14.  Ketubah

In Jewish cultures, the Ketubah is a significant marriage contract in which the law of the Jewish community says that the groom on his wedding day should provide Ketubah to his bride. There are some vital texts inscribed on it that also have started to come in numerous designs.

How is Ketubah a vital thing?

The Ketubah is mainly considered with a view to protecting the woman by establishing the financial obligations of her in the event of widowhood or divorce.

Besides the financial clauses, Ketubah’s text also outlines further obligations that the groom promises to the bride, as well as traditional matrimonial rights, e.g., shelter, food, and clothing.

The Ketubah is a central and the most crucial part of the marriage ceremony of Jewish. You’ll see Ketubah in every Jewish married couple irrespective of their social status or background.

The authorities of rabbinic measured it fundamental to a Jewish marriage. During the marriage ceremony, traditionally Ketubah is signed by two witnesses (anyone who belongs close to the couple) and then in Aramaic, loudly read-out.

Ketubah Design

Though, different Jewish communities now prefer designs and even shapes for their Ketubah. They try different themes for Ketubah according to the preferences of their localities. Also, the designs of Ketubah are so much in trend that now people are more opting for vivid designs that describe their traditions.

However, in recent years, people are now customizing the designs of Ketubah according to their own choices. For this, they also started to hire artists on a commission base and ask them for the specific design of their Ketubah.

Ketubah designs not only add grace and beautify the inscribe of texts, but they also signify various customs and traditions that are followed in their rituals. Besides, it is also an essential fact that in these, the human figures are prohibited in the decoration of Ketubah, only the themes of plants and animals are delineated on it.

Spring of joy Ketubah
Spring of joy Ketubah – Click here for details
Mystical Jerusalem Ketubah

Mystical Jerusalem Ketubah – Click here for details

Ketubah
Flowing water Ketubah – Click here for details

15.  Chuppah

In every individual’s life, marriage marks a very significant event. Moreover, it is like a second life to them; besides, you can also call it the beginning of a family. Although there are numerous items included at the time of marriage, and one from them is Chuppah. It is present in every Jewish marriage. You can see it in every photo of the couple.

So what exactly is Chuppah?

Let’s reveal it, a Chuppah, also known as Chuppa, Chupah, huppah, or Chipe, is a canopy (shelter like structure) during the wedding ceremony under which a Jewish couple stands.

It includes a cloth or Talits Tat on some occasions. Besides, when it comes to the importance and role of Chuppah, then the Chuppah symbolizes a home that a couple will assemble together in the future. Over time, vivid styles with lavish decorations have now begun to incorporate this Chuppah that adds glory to a wedding ceremony. So overall, this is the deep-seated thing that is present in every marriage.

Final thoughts about what is Judaica

The Jews art, because of its marvelous origin, is getting widely popular among people worldwide. No doubt, what are the things that attract people towards Judaica because it is evident because of the vivid history and major significance of each Jewish item. 

The Jewish religion on its own is very intricate. The various Judaica items can be a great way to experience Judaism without being Jewish, but only through tangible symbols and what they symbolize. Apart from all the above Judaica collection, you’ll also get to see numerous Jewish artworks too. Hope this article helped you to answer what is Judaica!

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