Living Jewish

2 December 2016. BROOKLINE, MA. Behind a candle holder, Fran Pechenick (76) prepares some plates for the Shabbat dinner, the traditional Jewish dinner that takes place on Friday night. Shabbat is the holy day in the Jewish religion, a moment for resting, joining together with family and friends and blessing God for its gifts. Traditionally, it starts with the sundown on Friday night, and it lasts until Saturday night, when the last sunlight fades away. There is an official calendar to follow in order to know the exact time when Shabbat starts, depending on which season of the year and in which part of the world Jews live. According to a saying, when it is not possible to distinguish any more between the pupil and the iris of the eyes, the Shabbat begins. During the day of Shabbat there is an exact set of rules to abide by that tell which activities are not allowed to be performed. Traditionally, women in the family light the Shabbat candles 18 minutes before the Shabbat starts, saying some blessings and prayers over the candles. The candles have then to naturally extinguish and it is not allowed to light them anymore until the end of Shabbat. Photo by Silvia Mazzocchin

LISTEN TO: Fran, a conservative Jewish 

Fran Pechenick (76) speaks with some of her guests during the Jewish Shabbat dinner that she holds occasionally at her place. Fran is a conservative Jewish, part of the confessional division of Judaism considered “the middle of the road”. The other two major confessional divisions of Judaism are orthodox Jews, that follows more strictly traditions and religious rules, and reformed, the more liberal ones. As many conservative Jewish, she follows the dietary Kosher rules. Kosher means “pure”, and the Kosher dietary law define an extremely detailed set of rules for eating, cooking and slaughtering animals. Animals must be slaughtered in accordance with these laws, and must be healthy and tamed. Some parts of the animals can not be eaten, and some food is not considered Kosher, such as for instance shellfish, pigs, hares and some insects. Moreover, meat and diary products can not be mixed. In order to prevent contamination, Jews use two different sets of plates, utensils and cutlery to cook and eat. This tradition comes from the Torah, the Jewish holy book, that commands “Do not cook a kid in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 23:6). In supermarkets, in order to certify that the food is Kosher there are some specific labeled marks (the letters U, K, P inside circles) that can be found on the packages. Photo by Silvia Mazzocchin

LISTEN TO: Shabbat rituals

 

LISTEN TO: Kosher rules

Fran Pechenick (76), left, serves wine in the glass of Nancy, right, one of her guests during the Jewish Shabbat dinner that she holds occasionally at her place. According to the Jewish tradition, Shabbat dinner is divided in different sections, accompanied with certain specific rituals and symbols. Singing plays an important role during the entire dinner. After having gathered around the table, usually families sing together Shalom Aleichem, a song that welcomes the Sabbath angels. Before starting to eat the host serves some sweet wine to the tablemates, and together they sing the Kiddush, the blessing over wine. The blessing recalls the importance of Shabbat as a day of rest. Photo by Silvia Mazzocchin

LISTEN TO: Shabbat dinner

Fran Pechenick (76) washes her hands at the beginning of the Jewish Shabbat dinner that she holds occasionally at her place. After the initial blessing over the wine, the members of the family and the guests stand up and go to the kitchen to wash their hands with a special jug, while saying a blessing. After washing the hands, the custom is not to speak until they are back to the table and everybody eats a piece of Challah, a Jewish traditional sweet bread made with eggs. Photo by Silvia Mazzocchin

LISTEN TO: Cerimonies during Shabbat

Fran Pechenick (76) hands some pieces of Challah to her guest, during the Jewish Shabbat dinner that she holds occasionally at her place. Challah is a traditional Jewish bread. According to the ritual of the Shabbat dinner, after everybody has washed their hands and has come back to the table silently, one of the family member say a blessing to give thanks for the bread. The bread is chunked into pieces and sprinkled with salt or honey, and passed around the table. After having eaten the bread, the guests can start again to speak. Photo by Silvia Mazzocchin

LISTEN TO: Which activities are not allowed during Shabbat

Some Tefillin (Phylacteries, in English) lie on a shelf in a chapel of the Jewish Temple Emeth. The Teifillin are part of the traditional garments that Jews wear when praying during the services in the synagogue. The Torah, the Jewish holy book, says “Bind [the words that I command you today] as a sign on your arm, and they shall be ornaments between your eyes. -Deuteronomy 6:8”. For this reason, the strips are bound around the arms and on the forehead they are used to hold a small box containing four tiny handwritten scrolls of Torah passages. Binding themselves with the Teifillin means committing both their intellect and their physical strength to the fulfillment of the commandments. Photo by Silvia Mazzocchin

LISTEN TO: The story of the temple

 

Enrico Schwimmel reads the Torah during the Friday morning service at the Jewish Temple Emeth. The congregation started in 1947, originally as Jewish community center, over a place that was an horse farm. 400 families are now part of the congregation. Photo by Silvia Mazzocchin

LISTEN TO: Reading the Torah

 

2 December 2016. BROOKLINE, MA. Davin Wolowok (right) shakes the hand of Enrico Schwimmel (left) during the Friday morning service at the Jewish Temple Emeth. Enrico Shwimmel has just finished to chant some parts of the Torah. Photo by Silvia Mazzocchin

LISTEN TO: The roles of the people in the Synagogue

 

Davin Wolowok, prays during the Friday morning service at the Jewish Temple Emeth. Davin works part-time in the synagogue. He wears on his forehead the tefillin with some scrolls of the Torah passages. The ropes hang down on his shoulder and then are bound around his arms. On his shoulder and back he wears a four-cornered shawl called a tallit. Photo by Silvia Mazzocchin

LISTEN TO: Simbols in the synagogue

Enrico Schwimmel removes the tefillin from his arms after the end of the morning service at the Jewish Temple Emeth. Usually during the week the members of the community meet three times (on Saturdays, Wednesdays and Thursday) to read some passages of the Torah and to pray together. Photo by Silvia Mazzocchin


SOURCES

www.jewfaq.org

www.kveller.com

www.chabad.org

 

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