Jewish Home & Community
Since learning sacred texts is a core Jewish value, the Jewish home usually contains a library, which at a minimum includes a prayerbook (for weekdays, Shabbat, and holidays) and a Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). Many libraries also include other classical and modern Jewish texts of law, theology, history, and culture
Jewish Community and its Institutions
Jewish families cannot live in isolation. To live a full Jewish life requires engagement with other Jews, a Jewish community. The community provides services and experiences that the home cannot, and in addition, fellowship and participation in community have inherent spiritual value in Judaism.
While Jews can pray individually, the presence of a minyan (a quorum of 10 or more men, or adults) is required for certain portions of the service. Thus, the synagogue emerged as the central institution of the community. Historically, the synagogue included a beit midrash (a place for study) and often, a guest room for travelers. Many synagogues contain a mikveh (ritual bath) used for people to immerse in and also for readying new dishes and cooking utensils for use in a kosher kitchen. Today, many synagogues house religious schools for community youth, and some have gyms or swimming pools for recreation.
As Jewish communities grew larger, some functions of the synagogue were transferred to separate institutions, including yeshivot or day schools, Jewish homes for the sick or elderly, and social service agencies for charity collection and distribution. Today, many of these activities and others are the function of centralized communal organizations called Federations. Federations support Jewish schools, community centers, family and counseling services, vocational services, residential services for disabled or elderly populations, and philanthropy for agencies that provide these same services to Jews in other lands and in Israel.
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