For communities all over the world, keeping Shabbat is one of the most important parts of what it means to be Jewish. With a never-ending cycle of festivals, traditions and practices, why did Shabbat rituals in particular become such a defining part of what it means to be Jewish and why have Jews gone to such great lengths to keep these millenia-old practices going, even in times of danger? Utilize the accompanying educational resources to engage your students.
“The ultimate goal of the entire Jewish ritual system, then, is not simply to enable us to identify with this particular community, as the folkways position would have it but, rather, to capture in our personal lives an elaborate cosmic order which extends to God himself as the ultimate cause and embodiment of that order.”
Reflect on this quote and how it relates to your own life. Are rituals valuable as a way to identify with community or are they valuable for their intrinsic value (ie do you light Chanukah candles because that’s what Jews do and have done for thousands of years or because if it’s spiritual meaning?)