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House Blessings

A home is a place of significance in any culture, and especially in the Jewish tradition, and so it should come as no surprise that house blessings are among the most popular and important pieces of Judaica.

Home blessings in both Hebrew and the vernacular languages of different nations are a great way to do this, giving your place of residence an unmistakable piece of Judaica which in turn links you to the greater Jewish community near and far, past and present. These house blessings are generally engraved with a traditional Jewish prayer focused on home and family. There are several different blessings which may be employed here. The Shema Yisrael is, of course, one of the most important invocation in all Judaism, connects back to both Israel today and in Biblical times, and is featured engraved on many home blessings today. The Birkat HaBayit is another popular home blessing, which to “Let no sadness come through this gate” and that one’s home instead “be filled with the blessing of joy and peace.” Both of these prayers, along with others, are featured on many home blessings, and represents the hope and communal spirit so characteristic of the Jewish community.

There are Jewish communities throughout the West and Middle East which have stood for centuries. The Jewish Quarter in Amsterdam, for example, served for centuries as one of the great bastions of Jewish life, while everywhere from Los Angeles and London to Toronto and Tel Aviv contain significant, lively Jewish communities. Both this constant moving around and yearning for a homeland has created a unique sense of home for Jews as being both a specific, tangible place and a feeling of communal Jewishness across the globe. Israel today stands as a home for the Jewish people, “the hope of two thousand years” realized. Meanwhile, within the Diaspora, the impetus remains for Jewish families to make their home a Jewish one, culturally, wherever that home may be.

Some of the most popular designs for a house blessing are those which place them on hamsas. An ancient symbol of good luck and an antidote to evil presences, hamsas are prevalent throughout the Middle East, making it one of the most emblematic items from that region and, as a result, one of the most popular. These hamsa home blessings range from stainless steel to silver to glistening gold, and are a great way to link your Jewish home to a different and likely older representation of Jewishness, as well as its beginnings in the Middle East. Hamsas also often feature iconic items of Judaica in the middle of the palm or around the fingers, including Hoshen gems, pomegranate, reliefs of the skyline of Jerusalem, and copies of the Ten Commandments, in short items which enhance that feeling of being tied to both Israel today and the combination of ancient and modern Jewishness for which it stands.

Marking a home as definitively Jewish has long been an important tenant of Jewish identity. God passes over homes marked as belong to Jews during the Final Plague in Exodus, and the adversity the Jewish people faced throughout the millennia, moving from one place to another, their ability to remain a culturally distinct people began in the home. Mezuzahs marks a home as Jewish, containing the all-important Shema Yisrael, and thus can serve as a great example of a home blessing when hung.

A house blessing is a great way to fill a room with love and a sense of connection and meaningfulness.