Religious Practice

Judaism requires separation from the non-Jewish world whilst still living very much within it. In order to follow the laws of kashrut, Jews will normally eat together, they wear clothes which are modest and which follow the laws of shaatnez (wool and cotton may not be mixed in a garment), and the laws of the Sabbath require all work to stop by sunset on Friday and for Saturday to be devoted to the worship of G-d until sunset is reached again.

This idea of separation from the non-Jewish world is not associated in any way with any notion of Jews being better than others or not wishing to have contact with others, simply with Jews having been born with more obligations to G-d which must be observed.

These beliefs can lead to very tight-knit families and communities and in some ways can be seen as Jews shutting themselves off from the world. This is not surprising in view of the results of anti-semitism in the pogroms and Holocaust. However, this is not the intention it is merely that living entirely within the world poses a significant challenge to the preservation of Judaism and the living of an halakhic life.

In worship Jews show their respect for G-d and the Torah. Traditionally, the ark is placed on the east wall of the synagogue so that, when facing the scrolls, Jews are facing Jerusalem.

When praying in the synagogue, Jews stand to face the Ark. In respect to G-d, male Jews cover the heads with a yamulkah or kippah – a skull cap.

During worship the Sefer Torah is taken out of the Ark and is carried through the synagogue before eventually reaching the Bimah (reading desk). After being undressed the scrolls is held high above the head and rotated so that everyone can see the writing on the parchment.

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Judaism

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