The Jewish home is the heart of our culture. It’s incredibly important to the Jewish family to create a sense of stability and permanence in a home. Jewish families typically settle in large properties that they grow into rather than grow out of and our children are raised there without consideration of moving whenever possible. Our homes are a great source of pride and joy and symbolic of our success. Jewish people may be accused of being cheap in many ways but when it comes to our homes [and cars!] we push the boundries to get the best.
Jewish homes are marked at the door by a Mezuzah. It’s a small case that holds a verse from the Torah inside. The blessing just asks to keep our home and our family safe. It’s placed on the right hand side of the door frame angled toward the door. When people move house they are obliged to put a Mezuzah on their door frame as soon as possible and it’s often given as a housewarming present. Religious families tend to place mezuzahs on all doorframes inside their home too [sans closets and bathrooms] but most families only have them at the front and sometimes the back door.
The kitchen is the most important room in the Jewish home. Jewish traditions tend to center around food and as a result Jewish families spend a lot of time in the kitchen together. The male head of the house is typically a good cook and will often be responsible for many of the meals. The Jewish wife is often the ‘baker’ in the home and will regularly bake with her children [especially bread on Friday!] Even with modern lives these traditional roles often maintain in the kitchen.
Jewish kitchens are kosher which signifies there are rules for handling and preparing the food. There are varying degrees of ‘kosher’ in a kitchen and many families keep to some of the rules if not most of them. [In the 'Traditions' section of this site I've provided a lot more details about what makes a kitchen kosher.]
When Jewish families move to a new home, they often book the Rabbi to come and ‘kosherize’ the kitchen which is one of the obligatory services a Rabbi provides. It involves his coming out to the home with a small blow torch [think creme brule!] and burning away any food in cooking prep areas including the inside of the oven. He also oversees the dipping of all cooking equipment, accessories, dishes and utensils in a Mikveh [natural pool of water] to prep the kitchen for kosher practice. Kitchen gadgets are often given as housewarming presents for Jewish families.
The garden is also an important part of the Jewish home. Not only is outdoor, fresh air space important for reinforcing a magical childhood, but the garden must have a space suitable for the Sukkot in the Autumn, as well as space for a vegetable and herb garden. If there isn’t ground space, Jewish families are often very good at container gardening. [ That's what we do in my home as we don't have any ground soil in our outdoor spaces!] Fresh ingredients are important for creating delicious meals.