“The Jewish holidays are not random moments scattered over the year,” says Rabbi Michael Strassfeld, “but purposeful occurrences that draw their power from multiple sources—the natural world and its seasons, myth, religious traditions, folk customs, and decisive historical events in the life of our people” (The Jewish Holidays: A Guide and Commentary). Jewish holidays allow us to celebrate, grieve, play, and sing together as a people. They are full of opportunities to connect with our traditions, our souls and each other. Some of our oldest festivals, such as Passover is a major Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jewish people’s liberation from slavery and Exodus from Egypt. Its Hebrew name is Pesakh. Its name derives from the tenth plague, in which God “passed over” the homes of the Jewish firstborn, slaying only the Egyptian firstborn. Passover is celebrated for a week, and many diaspora Jews celebrate for eight days. The holiday begins at home at a seder meal and ritual the first (and sometimes second) night. Jews tell the story of the Exodus using a text called the haggadah, and eat specific food (matzah, maror, haroset, etc). (Pesakh) and Lit. Booths or huts Sukkot is the autumn harvest Festival of Booths, is celebrated starting the 15th of the Jewish month of Tishrei. Jews build booths (sukkot), symbolic of the temporary shelters used by the ancient Israelites when they wandered in the desert. Traditionally, Jews eat and sleep in the sukkah for the duration of the holiday (seven days in Israel and eight outside of Israel). The lulav (palm frond), willow, myrtle, and etrog fruit are also waved together., have been enhanced by new rituals and feminist voices. Newer holidays, such as Israeli Independence Day (Israel Independence Day, celebrated with parties and parades on the 5th of the Jewish month of Iyar; preceeded by Israel Memorial Day.) and The genocide of millions of European Jews–as well as other ethnic, religious and minority groups–by the Nazis during World War II. The tragic events of the Holocaust are now commemorated each year on Yom HaShoah; established in 1952 by the Israeli government. Shoah (calamity) has become the term used to describe the systemic mass slaughter that occurred during World War II. Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah), are enriched by echoes from our deepest past. Contemporary secular holidays, such as Thanksgiving, offer additional times for reflection, gratitude, and Lit. Repair of the world According to Jewish mysticism, the world is in a broken state. Humanity’s job is to join God, as God’s partners, in its repair. with family and community.
Subscribe for the latest rituals, online learning opportunities, and unique Judaica finds from our store.