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Jewish Holidays

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Tashlich on Rosh HaShanah & our Yom Kippur break fast are highlights of our year.


The High Holy Days in a nutshell:

Celebrated on the first day of the Hebrew month of "Tishrei," Rosh Hashanah represents a period of renewal, and important activities include attending synagogue to hear the blowing of the shofar, a sacred ram's horn, and eating apple slices with honey. Apples represent hopes for fruitfulness, and honey symbolizes the desire for a sweet year.

Rosh Hashanah is believed to mark the date of the creation of the world, and it begins the "Days of Awe," a 10-day period culminating in Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is both the holiest day of the Jewish calendar and also one of the most somber. It's the time for repentance and includes fasting and prayer.


Our annual Hanukkah communal candle lighting is an intergenerational event.


Hanukkah in a Nutshell:

In 167 B.C., the Syrian king Antiochus IV began to outlaw Jewish religious practices and forced Jews to adopt Greek rituals.  His men took control of the Jews' Holy Temple in Jerusalem, looted it and erected an idol of a Greek god there.  One Jewish family, the Hasmoneans (led by Mattityahu and his five sons), decided to take a stand against the persecution.  The Greek forces arrived in the town of Modiin, near Jerusalem.  It was here that after refusing to violate his own religion by praying to the Greek god Zeus, Mattityahu attacked the Greek soldiers.

This action began the Jewish rebellion. Mattityahu and his sons became known as the Maccabees, which means "men who are as strong as hammers" in Hebrew.  The small army, led by Mattityahu's most famous son, Judah Maccabee, fought sizeable Greek forces.  In 165 B.C., the Maccabees were triumphant. On the 25th of the Hebrew month Kislev, the Maccabees reclaimed the Holy Temple.

They decided to rededicate the temple -- the word "Hanukkah" means dedication.  The Jewish army was unable to find enough oil to light the Menorah, or candle holder, to be used in the service.  The Maccabees found only one bottle of oil, enough for only a single night.  Miraculously, the oil lasted eight nights, giving the Jews time to produce more oil.

The holiday of Hanukkah commemorates this miracle.  By lighting candles for eight nights, beginning every year on the 25th of Kislev (usually in December on the Western calendar, but not always), Jews celebrate the triumph of the Maccabees, the rededication of the Holy Temple and the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days.


Shavuot is often our last service before the summer break and is observed with traditional dairy foods.


Shavuot in a nutshell:

Shavuot is celebrated on the sixth day of Sivan, in late spring. This holiday is the Time of the Giving of Our Torah. We praise God for the gift of revelation. Shavuot is also the Festival of the First Fruits. We thank God for the end of the grain harvest in the Land of Israel and for the harvest of the first ripe summer fruits.

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