Tallit (Prayer Shawl)
When they pray, Jews wear a prayer shawl, called a tallit, around their shoulders or on their head. The shawl has fringes, including long fringes, called tzitzith, in each of the four corners. Jews are commanded to wear these long fringes in the Torah (Numbers 15:37-41) to remind them to keep all of the 613 commandments which is in the Torah.

The tallit is often blue and white in colour. They often have Jewish symbols embroidered on them, like the Menorah (seven-branched candlestick) and the first words of each of the 10 commandments.

Kippah (Cap)

The kippah (sometimes known as the Yamulkah) is worn on the crown of the head by Jews to show respect to God. It is kept in place with clips. Some Jews will wear the kippah at all times, while others will just wear it for prayer and in the synagogue. The kippah can come in various colours and designs. Some are plain whilst others contain embroidered patterns, pictures or symbols relating to Judaism.

The Mezuzah is a tiny scroll of parchment which is made out of animal skin. It contains two hand-written passages in Hebrew from the Torah (part of the sacred writings of the Jews). These two paragraphs are called the ‘Shema’. The Shema begins with the verses: “Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God the Lord is One, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). The Shema summarises the Jewish law.

Jews are commanded to attach the Mezuzah to their doorposts. Deuteronomy 6:9 states, “And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” To do this Jews put the parchment in a small protective plastic or metal case, the Mezuzah case, and nail it on the right hand doorpost. When they enter or leave the house, they touch the case to remember God’s presence and his laws both inside and outside the house. The case is usually decorated with pictures or symbols to do with Judaism and Hebrew writing.

Note, Jews consider the actual Mezuzah parchment to be sacred and it is very disrespectful to handle it. Therefore photocopied words on ordinary paper are provided for use in schools rather than handwritten words written on animal skin. Touching the Mezuzah case is allowed (respectfully, of course, as with all other religious artefacts).