Every stage of a Jew’s life, every week, every day, and every activity of that day, is filled with meaning. That meaning is provided by the practical teachings of Judaism, called halachah, which means “the way.” The way a Jew conducts business, the way a Jew eats, the way a Jew raises a family, the way a Jew rests and the way a Jew gets up—everything is with purpose.

Read: How Do I Know If I Am a Jew?

Below are a few of the more visible practices of the Jewish People. A Jew is responsible to keep all of these and more. Nevertheless, even a Jew who does none of them remains a child of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and a member of the covenant.

Learn more: What Do Jews Believe?


The Jews were the first people to establish compulsory public education. Jews are required to provide their children with a full education in Torah, and to teach them a trade. Adults must study Torah every day, at least something every morning and something every night.

Learn more about the importance of a Jewish education here


To a Jew, charity is not just a nice thing to do—it is a moral obligation. Jews are expected to contribute at least 10% of their earnings to charitable causes. When giving to those who are needy, care must be taken to preserve their dignity. The highest form of charity is to give someone the means to earn their own living.

Learn more about the significance and importance of charity here.

Kosher Food

Pork, shrimp, lobster and many other foods are forbidden. All meat must be slaughtered in a prescribed, humane fashion, and the animal must be free of disease. Any processed foods must be supervised to ensure that the ingredients are kosher.

Learn more: What is Kosher?

Integrity in Business

Hard work, commerce and any profession that benefits society is valued. Acquiring goods or money through deception is strictly forbidden, and a Jew is required to keep his word. Employees must be treated fairly and with dignity.

Read: The Value of Doing Business

Shabbat and Holidays

From sundown on Friday until Saturday night, a Jew does no work. It is forbidden to make a fire, and electricity is treated as such—which means that lights must be left on, or put on a timer, and all electronic devices are put aside. Exceptions are made for life-threatening situations. This is a time to spend with family and community, to pray, to study and to rest. Shabbat is a reminder that we are free people, and that the world is G‑d’s creation.

Learn about Shabbat here.

Other holidays on which Jews are forbidden to work:

Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish New Year. Lasts two days.

Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement. A fast day, and the holiest day of the year.

Sukkot—A festival commemorating G‑d’s protection of the Jewish People when they left Egypt and celebrating the harvest season in Israel. Lasts eight days in Israel, nine outside of Israel. Work is permitted on the middle five days (six in Israel) if there is a great necessity.

Passover—A festival commemorating the liberation from slavery in Egypt and spring in Israel. This lasts seven days in Israel, eight outside of Israel. Work is permitted on the middle four days (five in Israel) if there is a great necessity.

Shavuot—A festival celebrating the Torah and the first crops in Israel. One day in Israel, two outside of Israel.

Other holidays on which work is not entirely forbidden:

Chanukah: Eight-day celebration of the victory of the Jews from the religious oppression of the ancient Syrian Greeks. Work is permitted, and candles are lit each evening.

Purim: Celebrating the Jewish People’s miraculous deliverance from the decree of an ancient Persian king. Business is permitted only in cases of great necessity.

Tisha B’Av: Jews fast to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple by the Babylonians, and later by the Romans. Business is permitted only in cases of great necessity.

There are several other holidays. You can find a more comprehensive list at Jewish Holidays & Festivals.


All boys are circumcised eight days after birth, health permitting. This is called the covenant of Abraham. A celebration is usually held on this occasion.

Learn more about circumcision here.

Bar & Bat Mitzvah

At 12 years of age, a Jewish girl is held responsible for her actions. A Jewish boy is held responsible at 13 years. A celebration is usually held when the child reaches this age.

Learn more about a Bar Mitzvah here.

Learn more about a Bat Mitzvah here.


Jewish men wrap black leather boxes called tefillin on their arm and head once a day (excluding Shabbat and festivals), usually during morning prayers. The boxes contain hand-written scrolls with verses that commemorate our liberation from Egypt and declare the oneness of G‑d.

Learn more about Tefillin here.


Jews pray three times a day. They face Jerusalem and recite prayers that are taken mostly from the Psalms of King David. They thank G‑d for His goodness, request their personal needs, the return of all Jews to Israel and to the Torah, and for peace. Additionally, before and after eating any food, a blessing is said to thank G‑d. There are also blessings recited for smelling fine fragrances, upon seeing a rainbow, upon seeing magnificent scenery, upon hearing thunder and seeing lightning, upon seeing a wise person, and many others.

Learn more about prayer here.


Marriage is the most sacred of spiritual relationships between male and female souls, and is equally valid if either partner was born Jewish or has converted to Judaism according to halachah (Jewish law).

Marriage is considered a sacred institution, the bonding of two souls in mutual love and respect. Raising a family is a holy task, and children are deeply valued.

Learn more: The Jewish Wedding Ceremony


It is possible to join the Jewish People, but this must be done according to the halachah. The convert must accept upon himself or herself all the laws that Jews are required to keep. This is done before a tribunal of accepted Jewish authorities. Men must be circumcised. A convert is considered a Jew and a descendant of Abraham in all ways, and may marry someone who was born Jewish.

Jews do not seek to convert others, and will even discourage those who show an interest in converting. Each person was born with a particular mission in life and it is not necessary to be Jewish to fulfill the purpose G‑d has given you.

Read: Should I Convert to Judaism?


Because every moment of life is a gift from G‑d, euthanasia is forbidden for every human being. The body is considered sacred, since it has housed a soul which is the breath of G‑d. It must be buried respectfully, and not burned or desecrated in any way. Jews believe that the dead will be resurrected in a time to come, when evil and death will disappear and all that was ever good will endure forever.

Learn about the laws of burial here.

What About Everyone Else?

Some of the above practices are particular to the Jewish People, as part of their covenant with G‑d. Others, such as integrity, education and prayer, are universal.

G‑d created a world of diversity, loves all of His creation, and has provided basic rules for all of humanity (Learn more about the Seven Noahide Laws here). Through observance of these rules by each culture in its own way, we can all be proud of our families, our people and our culture, while living in harmony with those who are different from us. The world can sing as one magnificent symphony.