to Jewish Life
from other religions? What are the biblical sources for enigmatic
Jewish observances? What is the meaning of the Hebrew blessings
recited during each ritual? What does it all symbolize?
symbols, and practices have long been associated with the Jewish
People, but few actually understand their biblical origins and
their continuing significance in modern times. "Seven Keys
to Jewish Life" explores the seven pillars of Judaism to
reveal the manner in which Jews still live to this very day and
the meaning behind their way of life.
biblical references and sources for each of the seven pillars
and clarified by the practice of real Jewish families, "Seven
Keys to Jewish Life" solves the riddle of modern-day Jewish
observance for the curious Jew and non-Jew alike. All of the
blessings and prayers recited for each ritual are shown transliterated
(with the Hebrew words in English letters) and translated in
English on the screen as they are recited.
1. The Sabbath: Known as "Shabbat" in Hebrew and "Shabbos"
in Yiddish, the Jewish Sabbath is observed every Friday evening
from one hour before sundown until Saturday evening one hour
after sundown. It is a day filled with prayer, Torah study, family,
and peace that remembers the Seventh Day of Creation, on which
Jews are bidden to imitate the Lord's own rest. It is an occasion
for songs of freedom and social justice praising the Holy One
for removing the Hebrew slaves from oppression in the Land of
Egypt, and for abstaining from the 39 categories of "m'lacha",
labor, which He describes in His Torah.
"Seven Keys to Jewish
Life" invites you to spend a Sabbath with a Jewish family
and to participate in the most important rituals this People
has observed every week since the Exodus from Egypt.
2. What is kosher ? The video takes you into a Jewish kitchen to clearly
explain which foods are kosher and which are not, the biblical
sources for "kashrut" (the Jewish body of Law that
regulates the diet), and the practical observance thereof in
Did you know that every
religious Jewish kitchen contains at least two (and many up to
6!) full sets of dishes? Did you ever notice any mysterious symbols
on the packaging of popular foods you purchase at the supermarket?
These are the modern-day signs that the Chosen People of God
are still observing His "Mitzvot" (Commandments) even
into the 21st century!
3. Chanuka: The "Festival of Lights" is an eight-day
holiday that celebrates, as many know, a miracle of oil that
occurred in ancient Temple times. Crucial to an understanding
of the festivities, though, is the history of the military victory
of the Maccabees over the pagan Greek oppressors who had invaded
the Holy Land.
An evening with a Jewish
family elucidates the traditions, laws, songs, blessings of the
lights and thanksgiving for victory and miracle... even which
Jewish specialties are favorite Chanuka foods!
60 minute (video)
DVD - $19.95
4. The Shofar: "Seven Keys to Jewish Life" takes you
to a shofar-maker to see the step-by-step fashioning of a simple
ram's horn into a majestic biblical instrument (the shofar) whose
sound pleased the Lord and awakened the souls of His People to
righteousness. Discussion of its biblical history and usage as
well as its employment in rituals today is pierced by the sights
and sounds of the blowing of the shofar in actual synagogue services.
5. Mezzuzah: "...and write them (these, My Commandments)
upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates" (Deuteronomy
6:9). This is the biblical source for those beautiful elongated
boxes that grace every Jewish door- way. Inside are hand-written
parchments of Torah passages that proclaim the Oneness and Majesty
of God and this, His Commandment.
Keys to Jewish Life" opens up the mezzuzah case to reveal
its precious contents, travels to a traditional Jewish scribe
to observe the writing thereof, and even stops in at a Jewish
house-warming party, where a crowd of friends and family wait
to enter until the blessing has been recited and the first mezzuzah
affixed to the doorpost of a new Jewish home.
6. Tefillin: "...Bind them as a sign upon your arm and
they shall be for frontlets between your eyes" (Deuteronomy
6:8). This ritual, most often described as simply bizarre by
outsiders, is perhaps one of the most intriguing and symbol-rich
Commandments that Jewish men still observe every morning at prayer.
The little black boxes, called "phylacteries" in English
and "tefillin" in Hebrew, contain similar parchments
to those housed by the mezzuzah but are bound to the arms and
foreheads of Jewish men as opposed to the doorposts of their
Open up these
little black boxes, read their parchments, witness their binding,
watch step-by-step the long and tedious labor that produces a
single set of phylacteries, discover the biblical source for
the Commandment, and hear the same blessings and prayers recited
for centuries every time a Jewish man donned his tefillin.
7. Tzedakah: Often translated as "charity", "tzedakah"
actually comes from the Hebrew root that means "righteousness"
and "justice". The Jewish concept of charity is two-fold:
by observing the Commandment to give, one comes closer to righteousness
through performance of His Law, while the giving itself contributes
to the restoration of social balance in a very unjust world.
feel that all that really matters is that one gives. But the
Rambam (Moshe Ben Maimon, the greatest medieval Jewish rabbi
and scholar) asserted that there are in fact Eight Degrees of
Tzedaka, and that some are indeed better than others. "Seven
Keys to Jewish Life" guides you up the Rambam's ladder of
righteousness and gives vivid examples from the Jewish experience
to illustrate how this Mitzvah (Commandment) has not only been
an individual concern for each and every Jew, but a whole social
organization and way of life for the entire Jewish People ever
since their inception.
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