Important Jewish Objects and Symbols



A Tallit is a four cornered garment that is worn during the morning prayers. The important part of a tallit is the tzitzit, or fringes, tied onto each of the corners. The commandment to attach tzitzit to the corners of clothing comes from the Shema. The three paragraphs of the Shema contain the most important statement of belief in Judaism. Here is a portion of the third paragraph of the Shema, Numbers 15:37-41:
The Lord said to Moses: Instruct the people Israel that in every generation they shall put fringes on the corners of their garments…. Looking upon the fringes, you will be reminded of all the commandments of the Lord and fulfill them and not be seduced by your heart or led astray by your eyes. Then you will remember and observe all My commandments and be holy before your God….
Some Jews wear a small four cornered undershirt, called a tallit katan (small tallit), so they can fulfill the commandment of wearing tzitzit all day.


Tefillin (called phylacteries in English) are small leather boxes with straps that can be tied on the arm and around the head. They contain verses on parchment from four sections of the Torah, including the first two paragraphs of the Shema. Tefillin are worn during morning prayers, except on Shabbat and Festivals. Wearingtefillin is a reminder of God's commandments. The tefillin on thearm (see illustration for two wrap methods) represents theopportunity to serve God with the body through doingcommandments, and the tefillin on the head represents the opportunity to serve God with the mind through study and belief. The first paragraph of the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) is as follows (the commandment to wear tefillin is underlined):

Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and withall your might. These words which I command you this day shall bein your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children. Youshall recite them at home and away, morning and night. You shall bind them as a sign upon your hand. they shall be a reminder above your eyes, and you shall inscribe them upon the doorposts of your home and upon your gates.


A Mezuzah is attached to the right side of the doorpost as you enter a room. Many Jews only put a mezuzah on the front doorway, butsome Jews put one on every room of the house (except closets andbathrooms), in accordance with Deuteronomy 6:9 (see the firstparagraph of the Shema on page 37). Inscribed on a small piece ofparchment inside the mezuzah case are the first two paragraphs ofthe Shema.
A Kippah, sometimes called a Yarmelka (Yiddish) or a skullcap, is a small round cap worn on the head. The Kippah is worn by men and women,although in Orthodox synagogues it is only worn by men. Some Jews wearthe kippah all day; some wear it only while eating, praying, or studying; somewear it only during prayer; and some Jews (in Reform synagogues) do notwear one at all. It signifies that human beings are beneath, or dependent on,God
The Shofar is a ram's horn blown during the month prior to Rosh Hashanah (the New Year) as well as during Rosh Hashanahservices and at the end of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) services. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, also known as the High Holidays or the Days of Awe because of their importance, is a time during which each person is judged by God. The purpose of the loud sounds of the shofar is to wake people up and remind them of their responsibility to ask forgiveness for their sins.
If a person hurts another person, the first person must ask the second person for forgiveness before God will forgive him or her. If a person has committed a sin against God, then he or she may ask God directly for forgiveness.

Star of David

The six-pointed star, called a Magen David ("shield of David") is a relatively new symbol of Judaism, becoming popular only in the last 200 years. It is named after King David, whom legend tells us had a shield with this star on it. A Magen David appears on the flag of the State of Israel.