What Makes A House A Jewish Home?

What Makes a House a Jewish Home?

I get this question a lot: How can I make my house more Jewish? So in an attempt to answer this complex question, I’ve put together a little photo essay…

Jewish People

What is a Jewish person? That is really hard to answer. Although many people think you are Jewish by birth, there are certainly Jewish people by choice that often live more Jewish lives than those born into the traditions. In either case, people who self-identify as Jewish (either proudly or not) are the beginnings of a Jewish home!

Jewish Food

One of the easiest ways to feel Jewish and create a Jewish home is by serving Jewish foods. Some Jewish foods are integrated into society so much we forget they are Jewish, like bagels. A friend told me the other day her kugel came out great at Thanksgiving. In a Jewish home, you don’t have to wait for Thanksgivukkah for that!

Jewish Things

This is how I started creating a Jewish home. Judaica products like mezuzahs, hamsas, wall blessings, candlesticks and kiddish cups are a great way to give your house a Jewish feel. Don’t know where to begin, check out my Guide To Stocking a Jewish Home. But artifacts alone aren’t enough. You have to use them, which leads me to…

Jewish Celebrations

I think this is the funnest part of being Jewish and certainly our customs of celebration are what comes to mind when people think of Jews. Passover, High Holidays, Hanukkah…with eight major holidays a year, Jewish life is full of celebrations!

Jewish Thought

This one is hard for me to articulate, but there is definitely a way of thinking that is quite Jewish. Whether it comes from the focus on observance vs belief, years of persecution, or the emphasis on study and inquiry to find answers, Jewish thought is distinct and has led to incredible advancements in science, politics, and the arts.

Jewish Observance

This is the hardest part for many, including myself. Whether it is keeping the sabbath or maintaining kosher, Jewish observance can be as intricate as you want. A rabbi once told me that you have to find your own level of observance because “No matter who you are, there is always someone more orthodox.”

What do you think? Did I miss anything?



Photo credits: Pisgah House by user Los Angeles, text overlay by Chai & Home (CC BY SA 3.0)// Family Portrait by TVZ Design, text overlay by Chai & Home (CC BY 2.0)  * Note this family may not actually be Jewish* // Bagels by user Politkaner, text overlay by Chai & Home (CC BY SA 3.0) // Seder plate by B & G Photography.


  • Jewish music! Our local college station plays Jewish and Israeli music every Sunday morning, and we always listen as I drive the kids to Hebrew school. Just last night at home, while pulling out the menorahs and dreidels, we put on a Hanukkah playlist from Pandora. When it isn’t a holiday, a bit of klezmer gets me in a hallah-baking mood. Music can really set a mood.

  • What a good question to think about…
    I would add : Kindness, learning, a serene and peaceful haven, and reaching out with love and mutual respect.

    HILLEL said:
    If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
    And if I am only for myself, what am I???

    Be among the disciples of Aaron, loving peace, loving people, and bringing them closer to Torah.

    Shammai said:
    Say little and do much; and receive everyone with a cheerful face.
    — Ethics of the Fathers


  • I just wanted to add to the wise words of that rabbi with respect to Jewish observance. I have found in the many decades I’ve been on this earth, that all Jews find themselves in what they themselves are sure is the MIDDLE of a continuum. No matter where they fall on that continuum, they look at themselves and then look around and somehow they conclude that everyone to their left is a Philistine, and everyone to their right is a fanatic. ;)

    Education is so important because it lets you decide for yourself what is right for you based on knowledge,rather than doing what you do by default, habit, or happenstance of birth.

    thank you for your thoughtful website.

  • How about Jewish values? These certainly make a home a Jewish home. Tzedakah is an important Jewish value. Just as a mezuzah is an important Jewish ritual object, every Jewish home should have a tzedakah box. What better way to share what we have with others and to teach our children the importance of giving.

  • What makes us the distinct set apart, chosen one’s — our Creator — and our learning and worship of Him. Everything that we do, centers around Him, from the rising in the morning to laying down at night, giving thanks, finding our purpose in life. That’s Jewish!

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