Jewish Values & Beliefs

Learn the most common Jewish values and beliefs.

What is Kosher?

An introduction to kosher, for everyone. Learn why people keep kosher, the basic rules, how to get started, or how to be thoughtful as a guest in a kosher home. A great intro for Jews and non-Jews alike – share with your curious coworker or family member.

What is a Mitzvah?

How can we become a mensch (ethical and caring person)? In the Jewish tradition, it all starts with doing a mitzvah. A mitzvah literally means command or commandment but it can also mean doing a good deed. Watch our video to learn more about the Jewish commandments and how you can bring them into your life in meaningful ways.

Mitzvot (plural or mitzvah) are commandments, traditionally understood to come from G-d and are intended for the Jewish people to observe. There are exactly 613 commandments that are written in the Torah (Hebrew Old Testament).

Not all Jews observe all the commandments but there are several common commandments that many Jews observe like observing the Shabbat, keeping kosher, celebrating Jewish holidays, etc. Many of the commandments are also pretty universal acts in order to be a good person in the world like taking care of the sick or welcoming guests into your home.

This video was written and narrated by Rabbi Jill Cozen-Harel, based in San Francisco.

Chesed, Tzedakah, and Tzedek:
What’s the Difference

Understand the differences between chesed (loving kindness), tzedakah (charitable giving) and tzedek (justice) with Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg and learn how you can use them to change the world for good.

Chesed is the Jewish practice of loving kindness or caring for someone else. It is voluntary and individual. That means that we choose to give something over to someone else out of personal connection. Some examples of chesed are giving food to the hungry or visit someone who is sick.

Tzedakah is the Jewish practice of charitable giving or donating money. Jews are obligated to give some of our money those who are in need.

How do racism, sexism or homophobia contribute to someone falling into poverty or in need of help? Tzedek, or justice, is a Jewish practice that is focused on changing the systems in place in our society so that there is greater equality and resources for those who need it.

How to Talk to Your Kids About God

Lots of parents find it difficult to talk to their kids about God. In this short video, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, an American rabbi and author, gives us some tips for how to approach this conversation and reassures us that it’s okay to not have all the answers.


Abraham’s Tent: Learning about Jewish Hospitality

By The West Coast NCSY

Why is Jewish Hospitality so important? Why was Abraham chosen to drop everything and lead the Israelites back in Bible times? Was it Abe’s willingness to open his house to strangers? Was it his overall openness to listen to those around him? This video aligns the concept of Jewish hospitality or welcoming guests (in Hebrew הכנסת אורחים or Hachnasat Orchim) with historical rabbinic interpretations of Abraham.

This video was created in partnership with West Coast NCSY. A very special thank you to each of the writers, narrators, producers, directors, sound engineers, musicians, educational advisors, artists and animators that contributed to this particular animated interpretation of this biblical tale including Rabbi Moshe Adatto, Barbara Barza, Rabbi David Bashevkin, PJ Cherrin, Josh Cohen, Lom Friedman, Solly Hess, Sarah Lefton, Rachel Levinson, Kevin Macleod, Emily Savage, Jeremy Shuback, Adam Simon, Jeanne Stern, Matthue Roth and Evan Wolkenstein.

Jewish Mindfulness in Action

Being intentional with our actions is hard work! BimBam and B’nai Jeshurun worked together to create this animation with the synagogue’s 2015 B’nai Mitzvah class. In it we look at mindfulness and how it relates to living life with Jewish values always in front you. Keeping this mindset is important in everything from the botched sacrifices of Nadav and Avihu to everyday decisions like not talking on a cell phone while driving or eating (turkey) bacon and eggs. For more films produced with community, check out these videos.

Humility: A Jewish Key to Leadership Success

By Hal M. Lewis and Stu Sufrin

While the worlds of business and sports may reward heavy-handed authority and even arrogance, Dr. Hal M. Lewis argues that “it ain’t the heat, it’s the humility” that is the unexpected key to success.

This video about Jewish humility was produced by ELI Talks in conjunction with BimBam. ELI talks are highly produced, 12-minute presentations on “inspired Jewish ideas.” The talks explore central themes of Jewish literacy, religious engagement and identity, presented in light of their presenter’s own work, personal experiences, or Jewish or secular texts. Dr. Hal M. Lewis wrote this animated short based on his own ELI talk, “It Ain’t the Heat, It’s the Humility: Jewish Leadership for the 21st Century.” ELI talks don’t just simply present what others have said more elegantly or funny or with great A/V support. Instead, they present new ideas to explore, consider and wrestle with. Viewers are meant to come away from an ELI talk thinking anew and seeing from new perspectives.

Produced by Eli Talks in conjunction with BimBam. Many thanks to the Avi Chai Foundation for their support of ELI Talks.

Machloket L’shem Shemayim – the power of constructive conflict

By Daniel Roth

Here is a different way to look at conflict resolution. 2000 years ago, Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai knew how to engage in “Machloket L’shem Shemayim”, meaning “Disagreements for the Sake of Heaven” or constructive conflicts.

Today, we can learn from their example in order to manage our own personal or communal disagreements in a healthy and constructive way. You can watch the video and take action today by joining 9Adar Project: Jewish Week of Constructive Conflict, a project of the Pardes Center for Judaism and Conflict Resolution.

Please visit the Pardes site to download a free lesson plan geared for grades 5-9.

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For the Sake of Heaven

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For the Sake of Heaven

This project was made possible with generous support from The Koret Foundation, as part of its Initiative on Jewish Peoplehood.

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