The Synagogue

On entering a synagogue, all males, including visitors, are expected to wear kippah or skullcaps or at least cover their heads. Women usually do not offer a handshake to a rabbi. One is expected to dress modestly.

Worship/Belief

Jews usually observe their Sabbath, which begins at sunset on Friday and lasts until Saturday night. It is a day of rest with no work and Jewish families devote their time to prayer and Torah study.

Three daily services are conducted in the synagogue; Morning prayer, Afternoon prayer, and Evening prayer. These times coincide with the times when sacrifices were offered in the ancient Temple.

An important Jewish prayer is the Shema: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our G-d is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your G-d with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) Another important part of the service is the silent prayer consisting of 18 blessings.

During the morning services, Tefilin (phylacteries) and the Tallit (prayer shawl) are worn. The Torah (first five books of Moses) is read on The Sabbath, festival days as well as on Monday and Thursday morning services.

Festivals

Rosh Hashanah or New Year observes the birthday of the human race and is a day of judgement for all mankind while Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement ten days after the New Year. Sukkot the Feast of the Tabernacles is celebrated five days thereafter culminating with Simchat Torah, which celebrates the completion of the yearly cycle of the reading of the Torah. Hannukah is the victory celebration over the Syrian Greek oppression and Purim celebrates the victory over Haman and deliverance from extermination. The Passover is the seventh or eighth day celebration of freedom from bondage in Egypt and Shavuot commemorates the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

Diet

Food that conforms to the Jewish dietary law is called Kosher. Only meals, which have been prepared in accordance with the kosher dietary laws, should be served. All processed foods such as wine, bread and cheese as well as meats must be strictly kosher. Such food is marked with a hechsher (Kosher supervision seal), which certifies it as kosher.