Jewish Practices 101

How Jews do things that embody the ideals of Jewish tradition.


Mitzvah literally means "commandment" but is often used to mean "good deed."

Classical Understandings

Rabbis, philosophers and mystics offered many ways to categorize the mitzvot and explain their significance.

Justifying the Commandments

The sages proposed additional reasons to obey the mitzvot beyond those offered by the Bible.

Contemporary Thinkers

On history, spirituality, obligation, and standing at Sinai.

Jewish Law

Halakhah (Jewish Law)

The way a Jew is directed to behave in every aspect of life.

Contemporary Attitudes

Jews of different stripes differ greatly with respect to their assessment of the role of Jewish law.

Orthodox Judaism & Halakhah

Orthodox Judaism seeks to preserve Jewish practice as inherited from the pre-modern period.

Halakhah in Conservative Judaism

"Tradition and change" is the Conservative movement's motto.

The Approach Reform

Seeking guidance from the Jewish legal tradition, without a belief in its binding nature.



Holiness (kedushah) in Judaism is a theological concept that has often borne a social agenda.

Biblical Concepts of Holiness

How can we unify the sacred with the profane?

Holiness for All

Is sanctity in this life possible for all of us—or only for a few saintly people?

Kedushah in Rabbinic Judaism

Holy living, achieved through actions that are ritually proper and ethically correct.

Holiness in Time and Space

Insights from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

Holy Actions

Ethical Behavior

Ethical thought in Judaism is as tightly bound to theology as it is to law.

Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World

Tikkun olam (literally, "world repair") has come to connote social action and social justice.

Acts of Lovingkindness

The foundations of Jewish service learning.

Justifying Unholy Behavior

Or, why Bernie Madoff didn't lurk in dark alleys.

Making Sex Holy

Jewish tradition embraces love and sex as part of the human drive for holiness.