We just bought our first home and will be moving in another few weeks. We wanted to make a house-warming party. Is there anything like this in Jewish tradition?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
A Chanukat HaBayit (literally "dedication of the house") is a Jewish house-warming party.
In a technical sense, the Chanukat HaBayit is when the Mezuzah is affixed to the front door, which should be done immediately upon moving into a new home. (If you're only renting, and the house or apartment is located in the diaspora, then a mezuzah can be put up within 30 days.) See details of how to affix a mezuzah, as well as an instructional video.
Besides that, it is a tradition to infuse the start of a new home with blessings, warmth and holiness. So after you've moved in and unpacked your boxes, invite family and friends to join you for a Chanukat HaBayit celebration. A festive meal is served, words of Torah are spoken, and Psalm 30 is recited. The full ceremony and other details of the Chanukat HaBayit are printed in the book "Sefer HaBayit," by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Lerner.
This is also a good time to appreciate the importance of the Jewish home. It surprises many people to find out that most of the essential functions in Jewish life take place not in the synagogue, but rather in the home -- such as the Passover Seder, the Sukkah, candle-lighting on Shabbat, the Chanukah menorah, and the mezuzah. The continuity of Judaism rests on the home more than anything else.
A "Chanukat HaBayit" can also be held when moving into a new office. This is a good time to remember that Jewish ethics are not confined to the synagogue or holiday celebrations, but rather punctuate every moment of our lives -- including standards of business ethics. There are Jewish laws dealing with employee relations, unfair competition, charging interest, damage to possessions, etc. A Chanukat HaBayit is a good time to commit to following these guidelines, with the hopes that one's business dealings will reflect honesty and integrity, serving as a model for others to follow.