Jewish Culture and Customs

Coming for His Bride

Townspeople lined the street as the handsome young bridegroom rode slowly by on a donkey. He looked like a king—dressed all in white, with a gold cloth wrapped around his waist. A white, Bedouin-style cloth covered his head; and he wore sandals (more like slippers) decorated in splendid, ornamental lace.

Sukkah Shalom: An Invitation

The most joyous season in ancient Israel was that of the Feast of Tabernacles. It fell during the time of year when hearts were naturally full of thankfulness, joy, and expectation…

Hanukkah in Israel

On December 16, Jewish people around the world will light the first candle in the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah. This joyous holiday commemorates the cleansing of the…

The Four Cups

As we sat around the Passover table, my host took us back in time to the days when his grandfather conducted wonderful seders that would last for…

How to Make Charoset

Charoset (also spelled haroset) is a mixture of apples, nuts, honey, and a little cinnamon. It is one of the elements on the seder plate, symbolizing the…

Why Unleavened Bread?

If there is one Passover food that can present a dining challenge, it would be matzoh, or unleavened bread. Though it really shines at breakfast when…

Looking for Elijah

Every seder table has an extra place set for the prophet Elijah. A specially designated wine cup, Elijah’s cup, is filled to the brim for him. Malachi 4:5 says…

The Marvelous Afikomen

One of my most vivid childhood memories of celebrating Passover with my family is of finding the hidden afikomen and demanding my reward…

The Seder Plate

These are the elements that belong on the seder plate: Betzah (egg). The egg speaks of winter yielding to spring and life reemerging from seeming…

A Hanukkah Menorah

The menorah is the very heart of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Here is a true story about a treasured menorah whose light will shine brightly this holiday season.

The Sound of the Shofar

When Jewish people hear the shofar, they know it’s a call to their people. In ancient days, it called them to prayer, safety, or war or to hear God’s Word. In June…

The Holiday of Purim

Fun, fun, fun! That’s the theme of the Jewish holiday of Purim. Special foods, floats, costumes. Learn how people celebrate today, both in the United States and Israel.

Hanukkah: A Story of Courage

It’s rarely easy being Jewish. From the time the Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s Temple in 586 B.C., the Jewish people have been under Gentile domination. Even today every country on Earth thinks it has…

Christian Love and Latkes

A few weeks before Easter this year, Susan was playing a video game in the privacy of her own home. She had received an opponent by sending her signal out into cyberspace.

Jewish Pseudo Messiahs

History is filled with people who envisioned themselves to be greater than they really were. Here are a number of Jewish men who either saw themselves as God’s promised Redeemer…

Once There Was a Wicked, Wicked Man

Yes, the villain Haman is still remembered year after year as Jewish children sing this little song. The lyrics help them learn the story from the biblical book of Esther as they celebrate…

It Happened in Persia

If I perish, I perish! Those words probably mean little in Western society where people routinely use expressions like “I’ll just die” or “kill me now” when encountering the least…

Shavuot: Shadows of the Savior

As Jerusalem and the Temple came into view, the ancient pilgrims sang for joy. It was the Festival of Weeks, or Shavuot. The Israelites carried on their shoulders beautiful baskets filled…

My Seder Memories

One of my mother’s favorite singers is Barbra Streisand. A recording of her singing “The Way We Were” played in the background when we celebrated my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary…

It’s Potato Latke Time!

It’s not difficult, and it teaches both children and adults how God protects His people and how important it is to stand up for what you believe. Hanukkah also has prophetic significance because…

Can You Stay for an Extra Day?

It is the last day of your long-awaited vacation. And you think, I’d just love another day. Or you’re a grandparent hosting the out-of-town grandchildren. And when it’s time for them to leave…

Why Tabernacles is Important for You!

Sukkot, or Tabernacles, begins this year on October 13 at sundown, five days after Yom Kippur, and commemorates God’s provision and protection of the Jewish people during their 40-year trek through the wilderness.

The Most Sacred Day

The most sacred day in the Jewish High Holy Days observance is Yom Kippur. Held in the fall, it is the sixth of the seven observances recorded in Leviticus 23. The words Yom Kippur mean…

A Time to Blow the Shofar

Modern Judaism calls the fifth of seven observances recorded in Leviticus 23 Rosh Hashanah. The words mean “head of the year.” And the holiday—which begins at sundown on September 29—is considered a New Year…

The Jewish ‘Doomsday Clock’

The Doomsday Clock (see doomsdayclock.org) has graced the cover of each issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago since the magazine’s inception in 1947. Midnight symbolizes total nuclear destruction…

Drama Around the Triclinium

Reasonable, educated speculation based on an understanding of the Jewish seating custom can help us appreciate the drama in the Upper Room at Jesus’ final Passover more than 2,000 years ago.

Expectancy–Prayer

My God, the soul which Thou hast placed in me is pure. Thou hast fashioned it in me; Thou didst breathe it into me, and Thou preservest it within me…

A Tale of Two Holidays

Two Jewish holidays seem to have strikingly similar origins: A man arises who hates the Jewish people and decides they must be dealt with. One such enemy enslaved them, while the other sought…

Israel’s True Tikvah

They looked for Him throughout all their agonies and heartaches, through centuries of oppression and persecution. The Hebrew Scriptures clearly told of His coming. So what happened?

Solving the Sin Problem

So reads The Friends of Israel’s doctrinal statement. Although sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, the knowledge of sin came through the Mosaic Law given to the Jewish…

A Better Sacrifice

When I was a boy, my grandmother would take me downtown to a butcher who sold live chickens. This was an important trip for her. She took great pains…

Happy Hanukkah

On December 15, as it grows dark, our family will gather around the dinner table to light the first candle on a nine-armed candelabra and sing Maoz Tzur Yeshuati: “The Strength of My Rock…

The World of the Hasidim Conclusion

Without question, Rabbi Israel Ben Eliezer (also known as the Besht and the Ba’al Shem Tov) left a permanent mark on Judaism. The Hasidic (ultra-Orthodox) movement flourished under his care. But all Hasidic…

The Roots of Nazism

How could a country that gave the world the great reformer Martin Luther also produce Adolf Hitler? The answer may shock you.

Holocaust Revisionism’s Big Deniers

If the names Paul Rassinier, Austin J. App, and Ernst Zundel don’t ring a bell, this article may be especially interesting to you.

The World of the Hasidim Part Two

Rabbi Israel Ben Eliezer, known as the Ba’al Shem Tov (“Master of the Good Name”), is such a significant figure in Jewish history that even today his name evokes admiration and respect…

Definitions

Rabbis teach that God gave Moses not only the written Law of the Torah but also an oral law that was passed down verbally from Moses and began to be recorded…

The Mysteries of the Kabbalah

Mysticism—the pursuit of ultimate truth through mysterious rites and subjective experiences—has enchanted mankind for centuries. Claiming to offer insights into the deep, dark secrets of the universe, mysticism pledges inclusion…

The Vilna Gaon: A Mystical Genius

Rabbi Elijah was born in 1720. He was a brilliant Torah scholar and kabbalist who left indelible marks on Judaism—not all of them good.

Moses Mendelssohn

Nine years after the Vilna Gaon’s birth in Lithuania, another man was born whose influence opened the door to assimilation. He is known as the father of the Jewish Enlightenment, the Haskalah…

The Ancient Sopherim

From the ancient world to today, scribes (Hebrew, sopherim) have played a crucial role in preserving Jewish culture. Other ancient civilizations also had scribes. But Israel’s were unique. In ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia…

The Dead Sea Scrolls’ True Treasure

The law of the Lᴏʀᴅ is perfect. More to be desired are they than gold,…and in keeping them there is great reward. The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands…

If the Maccabees Had Lost

Each year around December, wherever there is a significant Jewish population, television screens across America flash the greeting…

Tisha B’Av — Israel’s Day of Tragedies

People often have days when nothing, absolutely nothing, goes right. The Jewish people have such a date, when so many tragedies occurred that they established a national day of sadness, fasting, mourning, and remembrance.

One Holiday, Two Birthdays

Thousands of Jewish people will make their traditional trek on foot to the Western Wall later in May to celebrate one of…

The Passover Lamb

“Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). Using clear imagery rooted deeply in the Jewish experience, God identified His servant the Messiah as a lamb…

Tikkun Olam

It is our duty to praise the Lord of all things, to ascribe greatness to Him who formed the world in the beginning, since He hath not made us like the nations of other lands…

Workmen’s Circle

The children of Israel provided an interesting name for the heavenly bread sent to them from the Lord. They called it manna, which means “What is it?” (Ex. 16:15). The same question is asked today…

Play Ball!

Sports radio, a relative newcomer in the arena known as talk radio, is a result of the mutual admiration between professional athletes and the fans who watch them. The last names of the people who produce…

Jewish Music: Capturing the Heart of a People Conclusion

In Old Testament days, Jewish worship revolved first around the Tabernacle and later the Temple. Crucial to that worship was music, particularly the skill and purpose of
its presentation. In accordance with 2 Chronicles…

Blessings on Your Head

At the beginning of the movie Fiddler on the Roof, Jewish people in the little Russian village of Anatevka ask their rabbi if there is a special blessing for the czar. The czar ruled…

Akiva: Ascension to Prominence

Joseph Akiva is known by Jewish people around the world as the famous Rabbi Akiva. Though he lived from A.D. 50 to 135, he is deeply revered among Jews today for his amazing insights…

Is the New Testament Anti-Semitic?

If I had been asked, “Is the New Testament anti-Semitic?” during my university years, I would not have hesitated a moment before answering, “Yes!” My formative years were spent surrounded by people whose perception…

A Day for Remembering Yom Hashoah

Some of the most disturbing words in all of Scripture are found in the book of Esther: There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom…

Pondering the Question of Evil

Why is there so much evil in the world? That question has challenged philosophers and scholars since time began. Spend just 30 minutes watching the national news—with its usual display of wars, man’s injustice…

When You’re Dead, You’re Dead!

A number of years ago, I attended the funeral of a dear Jewish friend named Max. I had met him through mutual friends shortly after his right side had become crippled by a stroke.

Camping Out Under the Stars

So you don’t like camping? You may change your mind after you get a glimpse of life in today’s sukkot.

A Look at the Fall Festivals

Rosh Hashanah marks both the beginning of the Jewish high holidays and the civil year on the Jewish calendar. It’s a good time to wish your Jewish friends leshana tova (happy New Year)…

So, What Exactly is That?

Meeting new people is a regular part of my job. Usually it takes just a short time before I find myself asking the inevitable question, “What do you do?” Sometimes (not often, I hope)…

Chosen? for What?

Were you ever the first one onto the baseball diamond but the last to be chosen for a team? Or worse, maybe you were never chosen at all? Maybe, though, you were the best player…

Aliyah for the People of the Book

The People of the Book.” Whom do you think of when you hear that phrase, which so clearly distinguishes a specific people? Which people and what book? The people are the Chosen People, the Israelites…

Organized for Service

In 1843 twelve Jewish men, each one an immigrant, met on the Lower East Side of New York City. Their purpose was to form an organization to help their own people in need—a type of

People for a Land

You would think that such a want ad would yield few, if any, applicants. Yet just after the turn of the twentieth century, forty thousand Jewish people made aliya (immigration to Israel)…

Lost Hope Reclaimed

Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off on our part…

The First Line of Defense

Once a year an Orthodox community in Israel assembles to honor the boys from fatherless families who are ready for bar mitzvah. The fathers of these boys all lost their lives in service to their…

From Badge to Banner

Vexillology. Most people have never heard the term; but according to World Book Encyclopedia, it is the study of the history and symbolism of flags. Its root can be traced to the Latin word for…

The Man Who Brought Hebrew Back to the Land

For its first issue of the year 2000, The Jerusalem Report, a prominent international Jewish magazine, published the results of a poll in which it asked its readers to choose the one hundred greatest Jews…

Jewish Humor

The obstetrician wanted to be sure. His patient had told him the date she expected her baby to be born. Taking into account her age, size, and weight gain…

Judaism vs Jewishness

He could have been a poster boy for a Jewish magazine. Reared in an observant home, he had celebrated bar mitzvah at age 13. He graduated from Hebrew school at the age of 18, and it was clear he had a firm grasp of Jewish history and culture as well as…

Giving and Receiving the Blessing

Do you remember the old TV program Star Trek? In that series, the expression “Live long and prosper” became a familiar utterance. It was used by First Officer Spock as a greeting and a farewell to special people visiting the starship…

Try It—You’ll Like!

For many of us, food is an emotional experience. The sights and aromas of various food items evoke wide-ranging passions, both positive and negative. It is not uncommon to observe grimaces and other contortions as people view…

Baptism or Mikveh

“Steve, I can’t do it, I just can’t do it. I know all about the plans we’ve made, but this is not going to happen. I’m Jewish; this would be too much for my family.” The voice on the other end of the phone was quivering with emotion. This was not…

Politics And Politicians

From the time of Israel’s inception as a modern state 51 years ago, the United States has been its consistent and loyal friend. In our country, many issues seem to be based on political affiliation. The treatment of Israel has not been one…

“I Was Born a Jew, and I Will Die a Jew.”

There are many religions in the world. While some seem to overlap and even share common beliefs and practices, most have distinctive characteristics that mark them out or set them apart. Many have unique, identifiable practices, including…

The Joy of Hanukkah

Potato latkes, sufganiyot (Hebrew for jelly donuts), special songs, special food, and special times with family and friends are all part of the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah, a festival that commemorates the Jewish victory over…

Who Killed Jesus?

Picture this: A Jewish family spending quality time decorating a Christmas tree. Does this sound odd to you? When I was 17, I was invited to a Christmas tree decorating party at the home of a Jewish acquaintance. Confusion would best describe my initial reaction…

The Call of the Shofar

Have you ever been driving along the highway when, seemingly out of nowhere, you hear the shrill sound of sirens? At first you are startled as the high-pitched sound seems to engulf you from almost every direction. Instinctively you try to…

What’s In a Name?

One of the wonderful things about becoming parents is the ongoing debate between husband and wife over what to name the child. What couple hasn’t purchased a book of names and then uttered the words, “Hey, what about…?”

The Tattoo Is Taboo

Our neighborhood boasted a penny candy store ingeniously located on my route to school. In addition to the tempting and inexpensive candy, one of the most popular items in the store was the individualized tattoo. The shopper had a choice of…

Wanting to Be a Somebody

Written in the flyleaf of one of my books are the words, “Great to be a somebody. I’m most grateful for everything. T. G. [Thank God].” A friend of mine wrote those words in 1960. When he wrote that note, Max was indeed a somebody. An immigrant child whose…

The Pioneering Spirit

The pioneering spirit has always captivated me. Remnants of wagon trails can still be seen in various Western states. The courage and tenacity displayed by those trailblazers are lessons for all of us. Yet, as much as I admire those brave Americans who…