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Holidays and Festivals

Tu B'Shevat 
Biblical in origin, a holiday that celebrates springtime renewal and growth. Traditions include eating fruit and planting trees.

A joyous holiday commemorating the rescue of the Jews of Persia by Queen Esther and her uncle Mordecai from the evil Haman. The story is read aloud and when Haman is mentioned in the Megillah (scroll) of Esther, people scream and turn noisemakers called "groggers" to drown out his name. Traditions include parties, dances, putting on plays (shpeils), mishloach manot (gift-giving), and eating hamentashen (three-cornered, fruit-filled pastries).

Celebrates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. At the seder (service and festive meal), the Haggadah (collection of texts and commentaries on the Exodus) is read and symbolic foods are eaten. In remembrance of the departure of the Israelites, who could not wait for their bread to rise before fleeing, matzah (unleavened bread) is eaten for the eight days of Passover. This holiday stresses the value of moving from slavery to freedom for all who are oppressed or enslaved.

Yom HaShoah 
Day chosen by the Israeli Knesset in 1951 to mourn the millions killed in the Holocaust. Often commemorated with speeches by survivors and the reading of names.

Lag Ba'Omer 
An omer refers to an ancient Hebrew measure of grain. Biblical law forbade any use of the new barley crop until an omer was brought as an offering to the Temple in Jerusalem.  This led to the practice of the Sefirat Ha'omer, or the forty-nine days of the "Counting of the Omer." The omer is counted from the second day of Passover and ends on Shavuot.

Lag Ba'Omer is celebrated to commemorate the day a plague ended in which thousands of students of Rabbi Akiba, a Talmudic scholar, died during the Counting of the Omer. The period of counting is traditionally observed as a period of mourning. The mourning, however, is set aside on Lag Ba'Omer, making it day of special joy and festivity.  It is a traditional wedding day.

Shavout & Confirmation 
Celebrates the giving of the Torah at Sinai and the spring harvest. Traditionally, Jews read the Ten Commandments and the Book of Ruth and eat dairy products. Tenth graders in the Midrasha program participate in Confirmation, a ceremony of dedication to the teachings of Torah and to the Jewish community.

This evening service prepares the spirit for the upcoming High Holydays through meditation and reciting prayers of forgiveness. This year we will also have a coffee and discussion. High Holyday melodies are introduced and the service concludes with the sounding of the shofar.

Rosh HaShanah  
A festive celebration during which individuals contemplate past, present and future actions. Traditional foods include round challah and apples with honey, symbolizing wholeness and sweetness for the new year. The Ten Days of Awe follow, which culminate on Yom Kippur.  

Yom Kippur 
One of the holiest days of the Jewish year. Through fasting and prayer, Jews reflect upon their relationships with other people and with God, atoning for wrongdoings and failures to take right action.  Ends at sunset with a blast of the shofar (ram's horn).

A seven-day holiday commemorating the fulfillment of God's promise to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land after forty years of wandering.  Many people build a sukkah (booth), a temporary structure with a roof made of branches, modeled after the huts constructed in the desert. We also give thanks to God for the bounty of the Earth with prayers and a symbolic shaking of the lulav (an assemblage of palm, willow and myrtle branches) and etrog (a lemon-like fruit).

Simchat Torah 
Celebrates the completion of the annual Torah-reading cycle. After finishing the last sentence of the chapter Devarim (Deuteronomy), the Torah is joyously paraded around the synagogue. The new cycle begins immediately with a  reading from Bereshit (Genesis).

An eight-day holiday commemorating the ancient Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks and the miracle of the rededication of the Temple, when oil meant to last for one day burned for eight. Celebrated by lighting candles in a chanukiah (a nine-branched candelabrum), eating latkes (potato pancakes), playing with dreidels (spinning tops) and giving money or gifts.  This holiday celebrates the importance of religious freedom.  Click here for Hanukkah blessings, recipes, games, etc.

Thu, July 29 2021 20 Av 5781