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Orthodox Judaism/Jewish religious practices


Dear Rabbi,
Our community theater will be doing a production of Fiddler on the Roof this fall and we do not want to make errors in referencing customs and practices. The script does not have specific directions for certain things. For example there is a song about the Sabbath prayer. Would the family be lighting a candle? the Menorah, or some of the candles on it? Doesn't a Jewish household have a religious object on the door frame? I would appreciate a better understanding. The nearest synagogue is 200 miles. Thank you

Hi Kristine

Fiddler on the Roof should be fun, enjoy :)

I think it's great that you're concerned to do things right, considering that there is no synagogue nearby, which implies that there won't be anyone at the production to check that you're doing it right.

1) Only women and girls light the Sabbath candles. A married woman would light two candles and an unmarried girl one. Some women have the custom to light one additional candle for each of their children as well.

2) The doorway would have a "mezuzah", which is a container (wood, metal, nowadays often perspex) that contains a piece of parchment with the "Shema", Judaism's most central prayer written on it. The "mezuzah" would be placed on the doorpost of every room (other than the bathroom) on the right hand side and would be slightly slanted, with the top facing into the room. Many Jews touch their hand to the mezuzah and kiss it when entering a room.

Please feel free to ask any other questions that you have.

Kind regards and good luck with the production!

Rabbi Shishler

Orthodox Judaism

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Rabbi Ari Shishler


I am a rabbi who loves teaching, through writing and speaking. In 1999, my wife and I started our own Chabad House and it's grown exponentially. I'm also the learning director at Chabad House of Johannesburg, a high school teacher and the father of young children. As you can imagine, I get to answer lots of questions every day. I'd be glad to answer your questions on Judaism, Jewish spirituality and practice.


I have been a practicing Orthodox rabbi since 1997 and have headed my own community since 1999. I teach Talmud at a religious high school in Johannesburg and give daily lectures to adults on Jewish practice, spiritualty, Chassidic philosophy and Kabbalah. I'm the campus rabbi at our two major universities in Johannesburg.

Chabad-Lubavitch South African Rabbinical Association.

Monthly column in Jewish Life magazine, South Africa. Jewish Tradition, South Africa. Jewish Report, South Africa. South African Union of Jewish Students annual Holiday guide. Jewish Observer, South Africa. Nshei Chabad Newsletter, NY. Jewish Online Magazine.

After completing high scool, I spent six years studying in Rabbinical seminaries in South Africa, Israel and New York.

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