How many ritual items can you find at home?

Before the frenzy of the fall season comes around, will you join me in a hunt for items that may bring you joy, and enhance your Jewish ritual practice? Check all the items you can locate, and we will make a plan together for next steps. 

  • Hanukkiah
  • Candlesticks for Shabbat
  • Spice box for Havdalah
  • Challah board
  • Recipe box for favorite festival/holiday favorites
  • Draydel
  • Matchbox for holiday lights
  • Havdalah candle
  • Kiddush cup
  • Bible
  • Prayer book
  • Sukkah building supplies or kit
  • Seder plate
  • Challah cover
  • Yahrzeit candle
  • Wine or grape juice
  • Purim costume
  • Shabbat candles
  • Tzedakah box
  • Pointer or yad
  • Noisemaker for Purim 
  • Hanukkah candles
  • Ketubah
  • Mezuzah
  • Matzo cover
  • Honey pot
  • Container for an etrog
  • Miniature Torah
  • Challah bread
  • Hebrew calendar

How did you do? Give yourself one point for each Jewish item. If you scored 16, for example, that means that at least 16 times during the course of your year you could touch or work with that sacred object. Expanding on the math here, if you checked candles, candlesticks, Kiddush cup, challah cover and challah bread, you could conceivably rack up five points each week. If, on that Shabbat we are talking about, you opened your prayer book to read our prayer to bless a child, and pulled out a special recipe for a favorite noodle kugel, you’re at seven points each Shabbat. Perhaps as the stars began to come out, as Shabbat faded, you wanted to savor the sweetness so you smelled your spices and lit your braided Havdalah candle to bring on the week while you extinguished the flame in that Kiddush cup? Ten points. You touched your mezuzah and kissed your hand as you came back inside your home. Eleven points. Now bring in your multiplication skills for weeks that add up to months, and months that add up to your Jewish year. I know you are clued in at this point.

My invitation is this: Because you’ve taken the time to reflect on those sacred objects, put them within reach this summer. Don’t stop there; put them on display as the most precious objects in your home. Because they are. Perhaps it’s time to purchase that tzedakah box to make a physical practice of giving before you light your candles each Shabbat. Perhaps the summer months can find your family making a family challah cover, or a spice box with your own recipe of spices to smell each week and bring joy.

Every touch of a ritual object is greater than the sum of the sensations of your hands on the object. You are building Jewish memories, paving a way for Judaism to literally come alive using your body. Build that sukkah, hold up that paschal lamb shankbone at Passover and put it back down on the Hebrew of your Seder plate, spin that draydel and turn the page of your prayer book tenderly, as you recite prayers that touch your heart and deepen your relationship with the Almighty. Rack up the points and rack up your joy! And if you happen to get to 18 sacred objects on any holiday, you get the bonus of a shoutout to the heavens, “To Life!”

Debbi K. Levy is an emerging Priestess on her way to smicha (ordination) with the Kohenet Institute. 

Leave a Reply