September 16, 2019

Jewish Amulets for All Your Parenting Needs

“When I went for my 37-week pregnancy checkup, my doctor informed me that I was walking myself straight over to Labor and Delivery for an induction. While I waited to be admitted, my husband ran home to walk the dog and check off items on my birthing “to do” list, which included packing my hospital suitcase.

As he frantically completed these errands, my husband also found time to prepare something else for me: a Hebrew amulet with a protective prayer. Perhaps this wasn’t on your packing list, but my husband, a lawyer by day, also trained as a sofer, or Jewish ritual scribe. In his spare time he is writing a Torah. So on that November morning he just happened to have parchment, ink and quills on hand in our small Manhattan apartment.

Although the word “amulet” makes me think of dragons and “Game of Thrones,” the word — both in English and Hebrew (“kamea”) — really just means a small ornament used to give protection or ward off danger. In fact, many people have amulets without really thinking about it – a chai necklace, with the Hebrew letters for the number 18, which represents “life,” is a kind of amulet; a mezuzah, which Jews are commanded to place on their doorposts, is a kind of guardian for a home’s entrance.”

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