The flavor of Judaism

By Glen Pickus, Temple Beth Or | Jun 06, 2012

Judaism offers a myriad of ways to connect with God. Upon waking up in the morning, our liturgy offers a litany of blessings thanking God for everything from opening our eyes to allowing all of our body parts to work correctly.

Upon death, the Jewish memorial traditions include always staying with the body until it is buried, washing the body, then clothing it in a simple white garment without pockets, and burying the deceased within 24 hours of death.

The Jewish liturgy and Torah have so many names for God they cannot be counted. Sometimes the Eternal is referred to in the feminine and in the masculine. Sometimes God’s name is warrior-like and sometimes it is peaceful. It can be plural or singular, anthropomorphic or nature-based. One name is simply, “The Name.”

During Jewish worship services there are times to stand and there are times to sit. At times while standing we bow our knees. At other time we take three steps back followed by three steps forward. Each of these aspects of service choreography offers us a physical reminder of ways to draw close to the Eternal.

These and other rituals and practices give Judaism its flavor. But they don’t just happen simply because that’s the way we’ve always done it. There are purposes and reasons, too. Awareness of these purposes and reasons give Jewish life more meaning and texture.

If you are not up to speed on the meaning behind these practices, Temple Beth Or is offering an 18-week course called “Jewish Learning, Jewish Living.” Temple Beth Or welcomes community members to attend the class.

Students will delve into the world’s oldest monotheistic religion and gain a deeper knowledge of Jewish life.

The class is designed for those new to Judaism as well as for Jewish adults who seek to expand their knowledge of their religion and to deepen their experience of Jewish practices.

Everything from Jewish holiday and life-cycle events, rituals, theology, biblical stories and prayer will be covered providing an emphasis on the intimate meanings behind Jewish practice.

The learning will come from assigned readings, group study, discussions and first-hand experiences.

While the class is an introductory course to Judaism, it is not for those with just a casual interest. Students are asked to commit to attending the entire course in order to foster cohesiveness within the class. Students will be encouraged to attend worship services and holiday celebrations as well.

Classes will be 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, beginning June 20 and alternating every other week through Feb. 27. All classes will be at Temple Beth Or, at 3215 Lombard Ave. in Everett. The course will be taught by Rabbi Jessica Kessler Marshall and educator/member Heidi Piel.

Registration is $75 for members and $250 for non-members.

For more information or to register go to

A syllabus for the class is also available online at

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