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Judaism in the American Home: Home in Jewish Tradition

A Special Exhibit of decorative, ritual, and household objects from Jewish-American homes featured in the Undergraduate Library April 14, 2013 through May 12, 2013.

The Physical Home in Jewish Tradition


The home in Judaism is more than just a place to eat, sleep, and relax.  It also plays a central role in religious observance and has its own special sanctity.  The objects displayed in the exhibit illustrate the various ways in which the Jews in America envision their homes as a sacred space.  They also illustrate how families instill future generations with an appreciation of Jewish traditions and values. 

Blessing for the Home, (Birkat HaBayit)

Blessing for the Home

Blessing for the Home

by Raphael Abecassis

The Jewish Heritage Collection, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

Often hung on the wall near the entryway or next to a window, the
traditional blessing reads:

Through this gate no sadness should enter,

Through this doorway no troubles should enter,

Through this door no fear should enter,

In this family there should be no conflict,

This place should be filled with blessings and peace.

Mizrach

Mizrach

Mizrach, Chromolithograph

The Jewish Heritage Collection, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

Definition of MIZRACH

1: an ornamental or sacred picture hung on the east wall of a house or synagogue in the direction of Jerusalem toward which Jews face when in prayer
2: the eastern wall of a synagogue
Source Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Mezuzah

mezuzah on doorway


A mezuzah is a piece of parchment inscribed with religious texts and attached in a case to the doorpost of a Jewish house as a sign of faith.

It "serves two functions: every time you enter or leave, the mezuzah reminds you that you have a covenant with God; second, the mezuzah serves as a symbol to everyone else that this particular dwelling is constituted as a Jewish household, operating by a special set of rules, rituals, and beliefs." -My Jewish Learning

Though the exhibit does not contain an example of a Mezuzah, it is an important element of the American Jewish Home.