The Jewish culture has been around for thousands of years since Ancient Israel and you can see that is still being respected even in modern Israel and all over the world. Judaism guides the Jewish people through their lives so they can live both a happy life and the afterlife.
However, there are a few things that might look a bit weird to people who are not familiar with these traditions, and Jews admit too that some of their customs can be pretty strange even if you are familiar with the religion or the culture. So, to help you understand what all of these customs mean and why they do them, we will try to answer every question you have through this article.
Cheer when glass breaks and shout Mazel Tov
This one might be the most confusing for you when you are around Jews because it happens so suddenly and out of nowhere. If you are wondering why everyone around you has started clapping, cheering, laughing and yelling Mazel Tov is because someone has broken glass or a dish. This is because the sound of a glass breaking reminds them of a wedding. So, after so many weddings it basically comes as an instinct to strap clapping and say mazel tov which means congratulations.
So if you are ever around such a company, we recommend that you follow this custom so you can surprise your Jewish friends.
Jewish geography “game”
This is certainly a weird sight to see when two random strangers who have just met suddenly start mentioning names and places out of nowhere. It is a type of tradition that happens when Jews meet for the first time. One person asks the other where they come from and then with that information they start saying random names to guess someone they mutually know.
This is a part of the tradition because even since the time of ancient Israel, they are a type of community that is very close almost like a family. So, to maintain that close bond, they try to make a new friend by associating them with other mutual friends. If someone has a close relationship with your mutual friend, then there shouldn’t be any reason why they cannot be a friend to you too, right?
Jewish people also wear apparel that connects them with the Jewish religion and this type of clothing can certainly be strange for people who are not familiar with the tradition. You could see people wearing turbans, tunics, sandals, cloaks, tallit and a bunch of other pieces of clothing. The one apparel that you have probably already seen is the tallit. You can click here to remind yourself of its appearance and you could even buy one if you want.
Drinking before 12 pm
Well, this certainly turns on the “weird” vibes in everyone. Who doesn’t find it weird when you see someone drinking before they even had their breakfast? You would probably think only certain people would do such a thing, but it is actually part of religious practice. Wine is a very important part of this culture and many people who still practice the religion drink wine during the morning while performing the Kiddush ceremony before an important holiday or Shabbat.
To properly honor the mitzvah, an engraved goblet is preferred, but a regular cup will do the job also. After reciting Kiddush, the person who is reciting needs to drink a bit from the wine and then passes it around the table for other people to take a sip.
Shuckling or shokeling
This is a type of meditative movement that people do during their Jewish prayers. It basically is a Yiddish word that means to shake, which is why they do it in a form of swaying back and forth. Sometimes it can even be from side to side, there really isn’t any right way of shucking.
It is believed that this custom dates back to the eighth century when Rabbi Akiva was praying by himself he would reach from one side of the room to the other because he was kneeling and bowing so much. This is why people believe it increases the strength of your prayer, your concentration, and your emotional stability.
Some people also believe that shucking is also for a way to represent the movement of a flame that is flickering back and forth constantly.
Gather random people on the street for a prayer
Mincha is the afternoon prayer that is followed by a lot of people who still follow strict religious traditions. Unlike other prayers like Shacharit which is done right after you wake up or Maariv which needs to be done just before you go to sleep, Mincha is has a time frame where you can do the prayer. There are strict rules when it comes to Mincha, but a lot of authorities believe that doing it just before sunset is fine too.
However, for this prayer to be done there needs to be a certain quorum fulfilled which consists of at least 10 adults. So, if you are ever walking around the street with your Jewish friend and someone randomly grabs him and pulls him in, don’t be alarmed, it is probably just Jewish people following their tradition and trying to fill their quorum. It used to be that only men could fill the quorum for Mincha, but more modern rules state that women can be counted too.
Most Jews avoid eating meat
There isn’t any religious rule that Jewish people must not eat meat, and there is also no rule that people need to be on vegetarian diets, but they still avoid eating it. You might be wondering why would someone stop eating meat even if they do not have any certain reason to do such a thing. Well, there is a reason. In the Book of Exodus, there are two verses that mention that you may not mix milk and meat together.
This means that if you ever eat meat, you will have to wait several hours or sometimes even a whole day just so you can drink a meal or eat dairy products. You also cannot cook meat or dairy products in the same pan because the taste may transfer from one to another. So, instead of people counting their hours when they will be able to eat meat or dairy products again, they just avoid eating meat completely.