The Jewish Calendar (PPT)

Report
The Jewish Calendar
Hebrew
English
Month Number
Length of Month
Gregorian equivalent
‫נִיסָן‬
‫ִאי ָר‬
‫סִיוָן‬
‫תַּ ּמּוז‬
‫ָאב‬
‫אֱלּול‬
‫ׁשרי‬
ִ ִ‫ת‬
‫ׁשוָן‬
ְׁ ‫ֶח‬
‫ִכ ְׁסלֵו‬
‫ֵטבֵת‬
‫ׁשְׁ בָט‬
‫אֲדָ ר‬
‫אֲדָ ר‬
(‫)אֲ דָ ר ב׳‬
Nisan
1
30 days
March-April
Iyar
2
29 days
April-May
Sivan
3
30 days
May-June
Tamuz
4
29 days
June-July
Av
5
30 days
July-August
Elul
6
29 days
August-September
Tishri
7
30 days
September-October
Cheshvan
8
29 or 30 days
October-November
Kislev
9
30 or 29 days
November-December
Tevet
10
29 days
December-January
Shevat
11
30 days
January-February
Adar I (leap years only)
12
30 days
February-March
Adar (called Adar Beit in leap years) 12 (13 in leap years) 29 days
February-March
Nisan
• Pesach
• Yom HaShoah
Pesach
Date: Nisan 15-22 (falls in March or April of Gregorian calendar)
Pesach is the festival of freedom. It commemorates Moses freeing the
Israelites from their enslavement under the Pharaoh in Egypt.
The festival lasts for eight days and during that time no 'leavened' food
may be consumed. Jews who come from the Middle East, known as
Sephardi Jews, will eat rice and pulses, but European Jews (known as
Ashkenazi Jews) won't.
Pesach
Actions:
On the first two nights of Pesach, a service known as a Seder is held here the story of the Passover and the Jewish exodus from Egypt is
told, using a book called the Haggadah.
At a Seder, it is customary for those attending to lean to their left to
show that they are no longer bound by the restrictions of slavery
imposed by the Pharaoh of Egypt and may sit however they please.
Four cups of wine are also drunk during the service, and a celebratory
meal is eaten.
Pesach
Home ritual/symbol:
Preparation - The process of cleaning the home of all chametz in preparation
for Pesach is an enormous task taking several weeks! After the cleaning is
completed, the morning before the seder, a formal search of the house for
chametz is undertaken, and any remaining chametz is burned.
The day before Pesach is the Fast of the Firstborn, a minor fast for all
firstborn males, commemorating the fact that the firstborn Jewish males in
Egypt were not killed during the final plague.
When Pesach occurs immediately after Shabbat... This complicates the
process of preparing for Pesach, because many of the preparations normally
undertaken on the day before Pesach cannot be performed on Shabbat. The
Fast of the Firstborn, normally observed on the day before Pesach, is
observed on Thursday instead. The search for chametz, normally performed
on the night before Pesach, is performed on Thursday night.
Pesach
Symbol:
• Chametz – or the avoidance of it! This commemorates the fact that the
Jews leaving Egypt were in a hurry, and did not have time to let their bread
rise. It is also a symbolic way of removing the "puffiness" (arrogance,
pride) from our souls. We may not eat chametz during Pesach; we may not
even own it or feed it to pets or cattle. All chametz, including utensils used
to cook chametz, must either be disposed of or sold to a non-Jew (they can
be repurchased after the holiday). Pets’ diets must be changed for the
holiday, or the pets must be sold to a non-Jew (like the food and utensils,
the pets can be repurchased after the holiday ends).
• Seder plate – the seder plate holds at least six of the ritual items that are
talked about during the seder: the shankbone, karpas, chazeret, charoset,
maror, and egg.
Pesach
Pesach
The Seder Plate explained:
• A roasted lamb shankbone (zeroah) commemorates the paschal (lamb) sacrifice made the
night the ancient Hebrews fled Egypt. Some people say it symbolizes the outstretched arm
of God (the Hebrew word zeroah can mean “arm”). Instead of a bone, a roasted beet can
be used. This isn’t a new idea; the great Biblical and Talmudic commentator Rashi
suggested it back in the eleventh century.
• A roasted egg (baytsah) is a symbol in many different cultures, usually signifying
springtime and renewal. Here it stands in place of one of the sacrificial offerings which
was performed in the days of the Second Temple. Another popular interpretation is that
the egg is like the Jewish people: the hotter you make it for them, the tougher they get.
This egg isn’t eaten during the meal; the shell just needs to look really roasted.
• A bitter herb (maror) – horseradish is the most common. Bitter herbs bring tears to the
eyes and recall the bitterness of slavery. The seder refers to the slavery in Egypt, but
people are called to look at their own bitter enslavements, whether addiction or habit.
• Charoset, which is the opposite of the maror. Charoset is a sweet mix of apples, nuts,
wine and cinnamon which represents the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to make
bricks.
Pesach
The Seder Plate explained:
• Karpas – a green vegetable, usually parsley (though any spring green will do). While karpas may
symbolise the freshness of spring, others say people eat it to make them feel like nobility or aristocracy.
Some families still use boiled potatoes for karpas, continuing a tradition from Eastern Europe where it
was difficult to obtain fresh green vegetables.
• Chazeret – a second bitter herb, most often romaine lettuce, but people also use the leafy greens of a
horseradish or carrot plant. The symbolism is the same as that of maror.
• Salt water – this symbolizes the tears and sweat of enslavement. Paradoxically, it’s also a symbol for
purity, springtime, and the sea – the mother of all life. Often a single bowl of salt water sits on the table
into which each person dips their karpas during the seder. Then, it’s traditional to begin the actual seder
meal with each person eating a hardboiled egg (not the roasted egg!) dipped in the bowl of salt water.
• Matzah – perhaps the most important symbol on the seder table is a plate that has a stack of three pieces
of matzah (unleavened bread) on it, covered with a cloth. There are numerous interpretations for the
three matzot. Some say they represent the Kohen class (the Jewish priests in ancient times), the Levis
(who supported the priests), and the Israelites (the rest of the Jews). What symbolism you attribute to
this trinity isn't all that important, as long as you’re thinking about it.
• An orange – the orange is a recent addition to the seder plate and not one that is used in every Jewish
home. It is a symbol that represents including women and homosexuals in Jewish tradition as both
groups have often been marginalised.
Pesach
Other symbols at Pesach:
During the struggles of Soviet Jewry, a fourth piece of matzah was added to
the seder plate to symbolize the struggles of Jews who were not yet free
enough to celebrate the Passover. Today, some families still use that fourth
matzah as a way of remembering all people who are not yet free to celebrate
as they wish.
Wine cups and wine (or grape juice): Everyone at the seder has a (usually
very small) cup or glass from which they drink four cups of wine.
Traditionally, the four cups represent the four biblical promises of
redemption: “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians,
and I will rid you from their slavery, and I will redeem you with an
outstretched arm, and with great judgments. And I will take you to me for a
people . . .” Others say the four cups represent the four letters in the
unspeakable Name of God.
Pesach
Colour:
Although there is no traditional colour, some consider the colour of
Pesach to be brown. This is indicated by the roasted meat, the matzah,
and the barley and wheat whose harvests are beginning. Brown is the
colour of the desert and of Israel's parched summer landscape.
The brown of Pesach is contrasted with the green of Sukkot six months
later.
Yom HaShoah
Date: Nisan 27 (falls in April or May of Gregorian calendar)
A day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who
were killed in the Shoah (Holocaust). In Israel, it is a national
memorial day. It was inaugurated in 1953.
Yom HaShoah is held on the 27th of Nisan, unless the 27th would be
adjacent to Shabbat, in which case the date is shifted back or forward
by a day.
Yom HaShoah
Actions:
Conservative and Reform communities have incorporated Yom HaShoah
liturgies into their siddurim (prayerbooks).
These liturgies typically include the lighting of a candle (often each member
of the congregation lights one), modern poems, El Malei Rahamim (which is
a funeral prayer from the Ashkenazi tradition) and the Mourner's Kaddish.
Orthodox Judaism has taken an interesting, alternative stance. Orthodox
Jews (as a general rule) do not mourn for victims of the Shoah on 27 Nisan
because Judaism has specific laws prohibiting fasting and mourning in the
month of Nisan, which is considered to be a month of happiness. Another
view, is that contemporary Jews do not have the power to institute new days
of mourning or commemoration for future generations. Orthodox Jews
instead remember the Shoah on 10 Tevet, which is a fasting day.
Yom HaShoah
Symbol:
Although there are no particular symbols associated with the actual day of
Yom HaShoah, symbols of remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust are
used year-round.
These include transcriptions of lists of names of the victims and eternal
flames, such as one that burns in the Hall of Remembrance (Ohel Yizkor) in
Yad Vashem, Israel.
Iyar
• Yom Ha’atzmaut
• Lag Ba’Omer
Yom Ha’atzmaut
Date: Generally 5 Iyar (falls in April or May of Gregorian calendar)
Yom Ha’atzmaut is the national day of Israel, commemorating the
Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.
The original ‘Western’ date was the 14th of May, 1948.
Yom Ha’atzmaut
Actions:
Conservative Judaism instituted the reading of a Torah portion for the
day, Deuteronomy 7:12–8:18, as well as the inclusion of a version of Al
Hanisim (a prayer for miracles, similar to those recited on Chanukah
and Purim). Some Conservative synagogues also read the haftarah
(reading from a prophet) of Isaiah 10:32–12:6, which is also read on
the last day of Pesach in the Diaspora (the Jewish community outside
of Israel).
The Reform Movement usually includes Ya'aleh V'yavo, a prayer
which is also included on Rosh Chodesh (the New Month), Shalosh
Regalim (the Pilgrimage Festivals), Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur.
Yom Ha’atzmaut
Home ritual/symbol:
There is not yet an accepted "tradition" of how to celebrate this
holiday. Over time, no doubt, certain customs, foods, prayers, and
melodies will be linked in the Jewish mind with Yom Ha'atzmaut.
However, for Jews around the world, joining with Israelis celebrating
Yom Ha'atzmaut has become a concrete link in the Jewish connection
to the land of Israel.
Yom Ha’atzmaut
Symbol:
Synagogues, Jewish schools or community centres will sometimes host
an Israel fair or concert.
The traditional food on Yom Ha'atzmaut is Israeli food, such as pitta,
fallafel and hummus.
Yom Ha’atzmaut
Colour:
Blue and white – like the Israeli flag.
In Israel, flags are hung from every available window and lamp-post.
Lag Ba’Omer
Date: 18 Iyar (falls in April or May of Gregorian calendar)
Lag Ba'Omer is a joyous holiday but no one is quite sure exactly what it
celebrates!
Some suggest that Lag Ba'Omer is connected to Rabbi Akiva's support of
Simon Bar Kokhba, a Jewish rebel leader against Rome. The Romans
responded to Bar Kokhba's revolt with incredible brutality, but perhaps Lag
Ba'Omer was a day when either the Jews won a victory or there was a brief
respite from the violence. (Ultimately, Bar Kokbha's rebellion failed.)
The Talmud also mentions a plague that is thought to have killed 24,000 of
Rabbi Akiva's students during this time, and some have suggested that Lag
Ba'Omer is celebratory because the plague abated on the 33rd day.
It also celebrates the anniversary of the passing of the great sage and mystic
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar.
Lag Ba’Omer
Actions:
Although the Counting of the Omer (the days between Pesach and
Shavuot) is a semi-mourning period, this is lifted for Lag Ba’Omer.
Tachanun, the prayer for special Divine mercy on one's behalf is not
said, because when God is showing one a "smiling face," so to speak, as
God does especially on the holidays, there is no need to ask for special
mercy.
Some synagogue schools have turned Lag B'Omer into a day for
honouring their religious school teachers. Special assemblies and
parties are held, and awards are often given to the teachers.
Lag Ba’Omer
Home ritual/symbol:
Because all restrictions of mourning are lifted on Lag Ba’Omer,
weddings, parties, listening to music, and haircuts are commonly
scheduled to coincide with this day.
Families go on picnics and outings.
Children go out to the fields with their teachers with bows and rubbertipped arrows.
People also often gather for large bonfires.
Lag Ba’Omer
Symbol:
Bonfires - On Lag Ba’Omer, people often gather for large bonfires. The
fires represent the light of the Torah.
Bow and arrows – Two differing theories!
1) The legend that rainbows did not appear during the lifetime of
Shimon Bar Yochai because he was such a good person. The word for
"bow" in Hebrew is the same as the word for "rainbow," therefore
children play with bows and arrows to remember Bar Yochai.
2) That the students of Rabbi Akiba deceived the Romans by carrying
bows and arrows to pretend that they were hunting, when in fact they
were studying Torah, which the Romans had forbidden.
Sivan
• Shavuot
Shavuot
Date: 6 Sivan (falls in May or June of Gregorian calendar)
Shavuot is a harvest festival which also marks the giving of the Torah
to Moses on Mount Sinai.
The Book of Ruth is recited as part of the program of study for Shavuot
night. Additionally, in many synagogues it is read publicly on the
second day of Shavuot.
Shavuot
Actions:
At synagogue services on Shavuot morning, the biblical book of Ruth is read.
On the night of Shavuot, it is customary to study all night in Tikkun Leil
Shavuot, which means “an act of self-perfection on the night of Shavuot”.
Shavuot
Actions:
Why Ruth?
Ruth was a non-Jewish woman whose love for God and Torah led her to
convert to Judaism. The Torah intimates that the souls of eventual converts
were also present at Sinai, as it says: “I am making [the covenant] both with
those here today before the Lord our God, and also with those not here
today.” (Deut. 29:13)
Ruth also became the ancestor of King David. Tradition tells that King David
was born on Shavuot and died on Shavuot.
Finally, the scenes of harvesting described in the book of Ruth are
appropriate to the Festival of Harvest.
Shavuot
Home ritual/symbol:
• Eating dairy foods (often cheesecake) on Shavuot. There are four potential reasons for
this:
• The Biblical book Song of Songs (4:11) refers to the sweet nourishing value of Torah by saying: "It
drips from your lips, like honey and milk under your tongue."
• The verse in Exodus 23:19 juxtaposes the holiday of Shavuot with the prohibition of mixing milk and
meat. On Shavuot, we therefore eat separate meals – one of milk and one of meat.
• Upon receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai, the Jews immediately became obligated in the laws of
Sh'chita – slaughter of animals. Since they did not have time to prepare kosher meat, they ate dairy
instead.
• The numerical value of milk – chalav – is 40. This hints to the 40 days that Moses spent atop Mount
Sinai, and the 40 years the Jews spent wandering the desert.
• Pilgrimage to the Western Wall in Israel. Following the Six Day War in 1967, the Western
Wall first became open to visitors on the day of Shavuot. Over 200,000 visitors travelled
there on foot. This has become a recurring tradition. Biblically, this tradition also has
precedence. Shavuot is one of Judaism's three main pilgrimage festivals, where the entire
nation would gather in Jerusalem for celebration and study.
Shavuot
Symbol:
It is customary to decorate the synagogue with branches and flowers. This is
because Mount Sinai blossomed with flowers on the day the Torah was
given.
Tamuz
No holidays!
Av
• Tishah Be’Av
Tisha B’Av
Date: Generally 9 Av (falls in July or August of Gregorian calendar)
The 9th of Av, Tisha b'Av, commemorates a list of catastrophes in
Jewish history. Tradition holds that this day must therefore be a day
specially cursed by God.
Tisha B'Av is never observed on Shabbat. If the 9th of Av falls on a
Saturday, the fast is postponed until the 10th of Av.
Tisha B’Av
History:
• In the year 1313 BCE, the Israelites are in the desert, recently having
experienced the miraculous Exodus, and are now poised to enter the
Promised Land. That night, the 9th of Av, the people cry out of worry that
they will be slaughered by the Canaanites. God, displeased by this public
demonstration of distrust in God’s power, keeps that generation of
Israelites from entering the Holy Land. Only their children have that
privilege, after wandering in the desert for another 38 years.
• The First Temple was also destroyed on the 9th of Av (423 BCE).
• Five centuries later (in 69 CE), the Second Temple was destroyed the same
day as the first.
Tisha B’Av
History:
• When the Jews rebelled against Roman rule in 133 CE, the Jewish rebels
were brutally butchered in the final battle at Betar on the 9th of Av.
• One year after their conquest of Betar, the Romans plowed over the
Temple Mount, the nation's holiest site.
• The Jews were expelled from England in 1290 CE on Tisha B'Av.
• In 1492, the Golden Age of Spain came to a close when Queen Isabella and
her husband Ferdinand ordered that the Jews be banished from the land.
The Hebrew date on which no Jew was allowed any longer to remain in the
land was the 9th of Av.
Tisha B’Av
History:
• World War II and the Holocaust is often considered by historians to be the
conclusion of World War I that began in 1914. Germany declared war on
Russia, setting the First World War into motion, on the 9th of Av.
• During the Shoah, the first trains to go east to Auschwitz in 1942 did so on
the eve of Tisha b’Av.
Tisha B’Av
Actions:
Lights in the synagogue are dimmed, candles are lit, and the curtain is removed from the
Ark. The cantor leads the prayers in a low, mournful voice.
The Book of Eicha (Lamentations) is read both at night and during the day.
In the morning, the Torah portion of Deuteronomy 4:25-40 is read, containing the prophecy
regarding Israel's future iniquity and exile. This is followed by the Haftorah (reading from
the Prophets) from Jeremiah (8:13, 9:1-23) describing the desolation of Zion.
In the afternoon, Exodus 32:11-14 is read. This is followed by the Haftorah from Isaiah 5556.
Since Tallis and Tefillin represent glory and decoration, they are not worn at Shacharit.
Rather, they are worn at Mincha, after certain mourning restrictions are lifted.
Prayers for comforting Zion are recited.
Tisha B’Av is a fasting day.
Tisha B’Av
Home ritual/symbol:
During the afternoon prior to Tisha B'Av, it is customary to eat a full meal in
preparation for the fast. At the end of the afternoon, Jews eat the Seudah
Hamaf-seket – a meal consisting only of bread, water, and a hard-boiled
egg.
The restrictions on Tisha B'Av are similar to those on Yom Kippur: to refrain
from eating and drinking (even water); washing, bathing, shaving or wearing
cosmetics; wearing leather shoes; engaging in sexual relations; and studying
Torah. Work in the ordinary sense of the word [rather than the Shabbat
sense] is also restricted.
Many of the traditional mourning practices are observed: people refrain
from smiles, laughter and idle conversation, and sit on low stools.
Tisha B’Av
Symbol:
The egg in the Seudah Hamaf-seket meal has two symbols: The round
shape reminds us of a sign of the cycle of life. Also, the egg is the only
food which gets harder the more it is cooked – a symbol of the Jewish
people's ability to withstand persecution.
Food eaten at the Seudah Hamaf-seket (the meal above) is dipped in
ashes, symbolic of mourning.
The meal should preferably be eaten alone, while seated on the ground
in mourner's fashion.
Tisha B’Av
Colour:
The ark (the special cabinet where the Torah is kept) is draped in
black.
Elul
No holidays!
Tishri
• Rosh Hashanah
• Yom Kippur
• Sukkot
• Simchat Torah
Rosh Hashanah
Date: 1 Tishri (usually falls in September of Gregorian calendar)
Rosh Hashanah is commonly referred to as the Jewish New Year.
On Rosh Hashanah, God writes the fate of each person for the coming
year into the “book of life”. God waits until Yom Kippur (10 days later)
to ‘seal’ this fate.
Rosh Hashanah
Actions:
On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Genesis 21 is read – Isaac’s birth and his growth
to manhood; Abraham’s banishment of Ishmael; and Abraham’s peace treaty with
Abimelech. This portion is chosen for Rosh Hashanah because Isaac was born on
Rosh Hashanah. The Haftarah (reading from the Prophets) on the first day of Rosh
Hashanah is from the first part of the Book of Samuel.
Genesis (22: 1-24) is read on the second day. It deals mainly with the binding of
Isaac. Abraham obeys the voice of God and offers Isaac as a sacrifice; Isaac willingly
complies. The second day’s Haftarah is from the Book of Jeremiah.
Prayers at Rosh Hashanah are read from a special prayerbook called a Machzor.
Hallel (joyful psalms of praise to God) are not said on Rosh Hashanah - it is felt
inappropriate to say Hallel during the Days of Awe when we are very conscious that
God is sitting in judgment over us.
Rosh Hashanah
Home ritual/symbol:
• Eating sweet foods! It is customary to eat apples dipped in honey. The
apples remind Jews of the ‘roundness’ of the year and the hope that the
coming year will be fruitful. The honey represents the wish for a sweet
year. Sweet carrots, cooked with sugar, raisins or prunes are served with
the Rosh Hashanah meal, again in the hope of a sweet year.
• Eating pomegranate – a pomegranate is said to have 613 seeds, which
corresponds with the number of mitzvot (commandments or good deeds)
in the Torah. Eating pomegranate on Rosh Hashanah shows a hope that we
will perform all the mitzvot of the Torah during the coming year.
• Sending Rosh Hashanah cards to wish others a happy and sweet new year.
A common greeting on Rosh Hashanah is: “L’shanah tovah tikateivu” –
“May you be inscribed (in The Book of Life) for a good year”.
Rosh Hashanah
Symbol:
The shofar is the most important symbol of Rosh Hashanah. It is a horn or trumpet
made from the horn of a kosher animal (but not from a cow – that would be
associated with the sin of the Golden Calf).
The shofar is sounded on both days of Rosh Hashanah, a minimum of 30 times (but
commonly 100 times or 101 times). The Shofar is blown using four different calls:
• Tekiah – one long sound
• Shevarim – three shorter blasts
• Teruah – nine fast toots
• Tekiah Gedolah – a sustained blast, if possible 27 beats long
The Shofar is NOT sounded if it is also Shabbat.
Rosh Hashanah
Colour:
On Rosh Hashanah, many Jews wear white as a symbol of purity.
The curtain across the ark and the Torah covers are also white. They show
that mistakes will be “whitened like snow”.
Yom Kippur
Date: 10 Tishri (falls in September or October of Gregorian calendar)
Yom Kippur (also known as the ‘Day of Atonement’) marks the end of
the Ten Days of Repentance. These days begin with Rosh Hashanah,
the Jewish New Year. On Rosh Hashanah, God writes the fate of each
person for the coming year into the “book of life”. God waits until Yom
Kippur to ‘seal’ the fate.
Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar – it is considered
‘Shabbat Shabbaton’ – the Sabbath of Sabbaths (Leviticus 23:32).
Scripture link: "For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that
you be cleansed from all your sins before G-d" (Leviticus 16:30).
Yom Kippur
Actions:
There is a prohibition to engage in the five Innuyim ("afflictions“). This
prohibits Jews from eating and drinking, washing one’s body, anointing
one’s body, wearing leather shoes and engaging in sexual intercourse during
the 26 hours of Yom Kippur.
These things aren’t considered ‘bad’ or ‘sinful’, nor is it a punitive measure to
prohibit these activities. Rather, the five afflictions are all external things
concerned with the body, rather than the soul. Atonement is ‘at-one-ment’ –
returning to one’s self (in the form of the inherent purity of one’s soul).
On Yom Kippur, every Jew becomes like an angel – a completely spiritual
being, closer to God because of the lack of earthly distraction.
Yom Kippur
Home ritual/symbol:
• Because fasting on Yom Kippur is not supposed to be about punishment or
suffering, it is considered a mitzvah (commandment) to eat well on the day
before Yom Kippur. Therefore, the final meal before Yom Kippur should be
a joyful one. At the end of the meal, children are blessed by their father
with a special blessing.
• Before leaving home to go to the Kol Nidre service at synagogue, Jews light
a memorial (yahrzeit) candle. This candle burns in the home for 24 hours.
It reminds Jews of all those people who have died, in individual families
and in the world. After Yom Kippur has finished, the yahrzeit candle is
used to light the havdalah candle as part of the havdalah ceremony to
mark the end of the day.
Yom Kippur
Symbol:
The number five is strongly connected with Yom Kippur and atonement.
• There are five afflictions (prohibited activities for Yom Kippur day)
• There are five Books of the Torah which are accepted without allowing physical
needs to intervene
• There are five senses with which people performs mitzvot (obligations) and
commit transgressions
• The term nefesh (soul) is mentioned five times in the Yom Kippur Torah reading
• At the time of the Temple, there were five immersions of the Kohen Gadol (High
Priest) on Yom Kippur
• There are five prayer services on the Yom Kippur day
Yom Kippur
Colour:
On Yom Kippur, many Jews wear white as a symbol of purity.
The curtain across the ark and the Torah covers are the white ones that have
been used since Rosh Hashanah. They continue to show that mistakes will
be “whitened like snow”.
Sukkot
Date: 15 Tishri (falls in September or October of Gregorian calendar)
For forty years, the Israelites wandered the Sinai Desert prior to their
entry into the Holy Land, miraculous "clouds of glory" surrounded and
hovered over them, shielding them from the dangers and discomforts
of the desert. Sukkot commemorates God's kindness and reaffirms
Jewish trust in God’s providence by dwelling in a sukkah – a hut of
temporary construction with a roof-covering of branches – for the
duration of the autumn Sukkot festival.
During the Festival of Sukkot, for seven days and nights, Jews eat all
meals in the sukkah, recite a special blessing and otherwise regard it as
their home.
Sukkot
Actions:
On each day of the festival (except Shabbat), during the daytime hours, we take the
Four Kinds, recite a blessing over them, bring them together in our hands and wave
them in all six directions: right, left, forward, up, down and to the rear. (The Four
Kinds are also an integral part of the holiday's daily morning service.)
Every day of Sukkot, including Chol Hamoed, we recite the complete Hallel,
Hoshanot, and Musaf, and the Torah is read during the morning service.
The seventh day of Sukkot is called Hoshanah Rabbah ("Great Salvation").
According to tradition, the verdict for the new year – which is written on Rosh
Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kippur – is not handed down until Hoshanah
Rabbah. On this day we encircle the bimah (synagogue reading table) seven times
while holding the Four Kinds and offering special prayers for prosperity during the
upcoming year.
During the course of the morning prayers it is also traditional to take a bundle of
five willow branches and beat them against the ground five times.
Sukkot
Home ritual/symbol:
Sukkot runs from the 15th through the 21st of Tishrei. The first two days
of this festival (in Israel, only the first day) are a major holiday, when
most forms of work are prohibited. On the preceding nights, women
and girls light candles, reciting the appropriate blessings, and we enjoy
nightly and daily festive meals, accompanied by the Kiddush.
The remaining days of the festival are Chol Hamoed ("intermediate
days"), when most forms of work are permitted. We try to avoid going
to work, writing, and certain other activities – many families use this
time to enjoy fun family outings.
Arba Minim is a man's obligation. For women, it's optional but
encouraged.
Sukkot
Symbol:
The Arba Minim – the Four Kinds:
A palm branch (lulav), two willows (aravot), a minimum of three
myrtles (haddasim), and one citron (etrog). The first three kinds are
neatly bundled together.
Jewish unity is one of the central themes of Sukkot. The four kinds are
supposed to symbolise four types of Jews, with differing levels of
Torah knowledge and observance. Bringing them together represents
our unity as a nation—despite our external differences.
Sukkot
Colour:
The colour of Sukkot is green, indicated by the colours of the Four
Kinds (including the etrog, which ripens from green to yellow), and of
the green branches covering the sukkah. Green is also the colour of
Israel's lush, rain-drenched winter landscape.
Sukkot finds itself on the opposite side of the Jewish calendar as
Pesach. As such, the green, lush landscape of Sukkot represents the
opposite of the brown, parched landscape of the time of Pesach.
Simchat Torah
Date: 22 Tishri (falls in September or October of Gregorian calendar)
Sukkot is immediately followed by the holiday of Simchat Torah.
At Simchat Torah, death and life are closely linked.
The Torah reading cycle reaches its final episode at the end of
Deuteronomy, the death of Moses. Just a moment later, the cycle is
restarted “In the beginning”, affirming life through Bereshit (Genesis),
the Creation of the world.
Simchat Torah
Actions:
The main celebration of Simchat Torah takes place in the synagogue during
evening and morning services.
The Simchat Torah festivities begin with the evening service. All the
synagogue's Torah scrolls are removed from the ark and are carried around
the sanctuary in a series of seven hakafot (circuits). The dancing and singing
with the Torah often continues much longer, and may overflow from the
synagogue onto the streets.
In the morning, the last parashah of Deuteronomy and the first parashah of
Genesis are read in the synagogue.
On each occasion, when the ark is opened, all the worshippers leave their
seats to dance and sing with all the Torah scrolls in a joyous celebration that
often lasts for several hours and more.
Simchat Torah
Symbol:
The Torah - The Torah scrolls are placed proudly on show. The Torah
is honoured, kissed, turned to, and passed lovingly around.
The number seven - All the synagogue's Torah scrolls are removed
from the ark and are carried around the sanctuary in a series of seven
hakafot (circuits). These seven circuits are reminiscent of the seven
circles at a wedding, symbolising the joining together of a couple
which continues the work of Creation, completed in seven days.
Cheshvan
No holidays!
Kislev
• Chanukah
Chanukah
Date: 25 Kislev (falls in December of Gregorian calendar)
Chanukah celebrates the ‘miracle of the oil’ and marks the rededication of
the Temple of Jerusalem after its recapture from the Syrian Greeks 165 BCE.
The legend of a miracle is recorded in the Talmud – the burning of a day's
supply of pure olive oil for eight days, until fresh jars of clean oil could be
brought into the temple.
The Book of Second Maccabees, one of the earliest sources on the origins of
Chanukah, connects the eight days of the festival with the eight-day
observance of Sukkot. According to the text, the first Chanukah in 164 BCE
was celebrated as a delayed Sukkot, since the Maccabees had been unable to
observe the holiday properly while they were fighting in the hills.
Chanukah
Actions:
Jews don’t need to go to synagogue because Chanukah is celebrated at
home.
However, there is often a synagogue (or community) celebration on
the first night of Chanukah. There is also often a special service at the
synagogue on the first night and/or eighth night of Chanukah.
Chanukah
Home ritual/symbol:
Every community has its unique Hanukkah traditions, but there are some
traditions that are almost universally practiced:
• Lighting the chanukkiyah – the chanukkiyah is lit every night for eight
nights. The idea is, each night, to bring more light into the world.
• Spinning the dreidel – a popular Chanukah game is spinning the dreidel,
which is a four-sided top with Hebrew letters written on each side.
• Eating fried foods – because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil, it is
traditional to eat fried foods such as latkes and sufganiyot during the
holiday.
Chanukah
Symbol:
• Chanukkiyah
• Light
• The Dreidel, with the Hebrew letters ‫( נ‬Nun) ‫( ג‬Gimel) ‫( ה‬Hei) ‫ש‬
(Shin), which together form the acronym for “Nes Gadol Hayah
Sham” – “a great miracle happened there”).
• Chocolate coins for children – ‘Chanukah gelt’
• Oily foods – latkes (potato pancakes), sufganiyot (jelly donuts)
Chanukah
Colour:
There are no traditional, biblical colours for Chanukah.
However, because of the influence of Christmas (and the fact that
Christmas has traditional colours), the colours of the Israeli Flag (blue
and white) are used as Chanukah colours. This practice is only about
40 years old.
The blue and white (or sometimes silver) that are often seen in
Chanukah decorations represent Judaism in general. In ancient times,
a blue dye called tekhelet was very sought after, and became one of the
colours in Jewish prayer shawls and in the Israeli flag.
Tevet
No holidays!
Shevat
• Tu B’Shevat
Tu B’Shevat
Date: 15 Shevat (falls in January or February of Gregorian calendar)
Tu B’Shevat (meaning the 15th of Shevat) is the ‘New Year for Trees’.
This is the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in Israel begin a
new fruit-bearing cycle.
It is a minor post-biblical festival.
As there are a number of rules in the Torah apply to the fruit of trees,
such as tithing, Tu B’Shevat is, essentially, an ‘accounting period’ - the
point at which a budding fruit is considered to belong to the next year
of the cycle is the 15th of Shevat.
Tu B’Shevat
Actions:
We mark the day of Tu B’Shevat by eating fruit, particularly from the
kinds that are singled out by the Torah in its praise of the bounty of the
Holy Land: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. On this day
we remember that each human is “a tree of the field” (Deuteronomy
20:19), and reflect on the lessons we can derive from nature and
biology.
Jews typically take part in a Tu Be’Shevat seder – either at home or in
a community seder at a synagogue.
As Tu B’Shevat is a festival of trees, at this seder, Jews drink four cups
of wine or grape juice, plus 15 different types of fruits and nuts.
Tu B’Shevat
Home ritual/symbol:
There is a very strong tradition of donating money to buy trees in
Israel, so as to enrich the soil and to prevent erosion as well as to
provide fruit and shade.
Another variant of this tradition is to plant trees in one’s own country,
which can be combined with honouring famous people or deceased
relatives.
Tu B’Shevat
Symbol:
Fifteen is the numerical value of the Hebrew letters spelling “TU” (Tet and Vav). For
this reason, 15 different types of fruit and/or nut are eaten on Tu B’Shevat. These
fruits and nuts are typically things that grow in Israel.
Five from each ‘category’ is eaten:
• Fruits or nuts with an inedible outer shell and an edible inner core. These include
pineapple, coconut, orange, banana, walnut, pecan, grapefruit, starfruit, pinenut,
pomegranate, papaya, brazil nut, pistachio, or almond. (The whole fruit or nut is
purchased so that the outer shell can be removed during the seder).
• Fruits with edible outer flesh and pithy, inedible cores. These include olive, date,
cherry, peach, apricot, persimmon, avocado or plum. (The whole fruit is
purchased so that the pit or core can be removed during the seder).
• Fruits which are edible throughout. The symbolic fruits may be eaten entirely and
include: strawberry, grape, raisin, fig, raspberry, blueberry, cranberry or kiwi.
Adar
• Purim
Purim
Date: 14 Adar (falls in February or March of Gregorian calendar)
Purim recalls the story of Esther, a Queen who foiled a plot by one of
her advisors, Haman, to kill all the Jews.
Purim is such a popular holiday that the ancient Rabbis declared that
it alone would continue to be celebrated after the Messiah comes! All
other holidays will not be celebrated in the messianic days.
Purim
Actions:
The Scroll of Esther (also called the Megillah) is read in synagogue.
During the reading, whenever Haman’s name is mentioned, people
boo, howl, hoot and shake noisemakers (called groggers) to express
their dislike of him. Hearing the Megillah reading is a mitzvah that
applies to both women and men.
At the conclusion of the Megillah reading, many synagogues will put
on plays that re-enact the Purim Story and poke fun at the villain.
Many synagogues also host Purim Carnivals.
Purim
Home ritual/symbol:
Jews must send mishloach manot to others. Mishloach manot are baskets
filled with food and drink. According to Jewish law, each basket must
contain at least two different kinds of food that is ready to eat.
Jews are also commanded to be especially charitable during Purim, giving to
charities and needy people.
On Purim, Jews are supposed to enjoy a festive meal as part of the holiday
celebration. After the meal, pastries called Hamentaschen (‘ears of Haman’)
are eaten - these are triangular and filled with poppy seeds, jam or fruit.
One of the most interesting commandments related to Purim has to do with
drinking. According to Jewish law, adults of drinking age are supposed to
drink until they can't tell the difference between Mordechai (a hero in the
Purim story) and Haman (the villain).
Purim
Symbol:
Purim is a day for parties and celebrations, and fancy dress is
traditional. Even the Rabbi will dress up in a silly costume for the
service! The tradition of dressing up is based upon the way Esther
concealed her Jewish identity at the beginning of the Purim Story.
On Purim, the wine (or other alcohol) itself is not symbolic. Therefore,
the nature of the obligation is not defined by volume, but rather, by the
effect upon the drinker.

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