Learn more about how we celebrate and share during the year for all Jewish holidays and observances.
Shabbat — The Sabbath
The Jewish New Year, is regarded as the birthday of creation. Rosh Hashanah is the first day of a 10-day holiday period called the “Ten Days of Repentance” which ends with Yom Kippur. On this day, services that are held in the synagogue begin with the blast of a trumpet made from a ram’s horn, called a Shofar, unless it falls on the Sabbath.
The Day of Atonement ends the “Ten Days of Repentance” and is the most solemn day of the Jewish year. Yom Kippur is a very serious day, which includes fasting for healthy adults, praying in the synagogue and holding memorial services.
A festival of thanksgiving for the harvest which spans eight days. A custom associated with this holiday is the building of a booth called a “sukkah”. By doing so, we commemorate the building of booths by farmers in the fields of Canaan so they would not have to return to their homes in the village during the harvest. The sukkah is made of green branches, which are decorated with flowers and fruit.
This holiday occurs on the eighth day of Sukkot and is considered a holiday in itself. It is a solemn day with special prayers for rain (geshem). This is the beginning of the season which determines the fertility of land in the year to come.
This holiday is observed on the second day of Shemini Atzeret and emphasizes the continuity of Jewish learning. Throughout the year, passages of the Torah are read aloud in the synagogue. On Simchat Torah, the reading is completed (with the last two chapters of Deuteronomy), then immediately begun again (with Genesis). This symbolizes the fact that study of the Torah has no beginning and no end. Children also join adults in carrying specially decorated flags in a series of seven processions (Hakafot) around the synagogue. The seven processions are in honor of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. The children create their own flags and parade around the building.
Passover commemorates the Exodus from Egypt over 3,000 years ago. The ritual observance of this holiday centers around a special service conducted at home called the Seder (meaning “order”) which includes a festive meal. At the Seder, a book is read. This book is called the Hagaddah, meaning “telling,” which contains the order of prayers, rituals, readings and songs for the Pesach Seder. The holiday continues for 8 days when only unleavened foods shall be eaten.
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Hebrew word meaning “weeks” and refers to the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Shavuot, like so many other Jewish holidays began as an ancient agricultural festival, marking the end of the spring barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. Shavuot was distinguished in ancient times by bringing crop offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem.