Holidays

 

Beth Israel welcomes you and your family to join us in observance of each Jewish holiday in its season.

OBSERVE

Celebrating Holidays

Beth Israel celebrates Judaism in all stages of life throughout the year with a variety of holiday celebrations and observances, family and community gatherings including a Rummage Sale, Hanukkah Bazaar, Passover Seder, and Independence Weekend Kosher BBQ.

 

Shabbat Services are offered at 7:30 Friday night and 9:30 Saturday morning every week (please check the calendar for service specifics).  The Rabbi and Congregation provide personal & community observance for every Jewish holiday and festival.

Rosh Hashanah

Hebrew: רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה, literally meaning the “beginning of the year” is the Jewish New Year. The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah (יוֹם תְּרוּעָה), literally “day of shouting/blasting”, sometimes translated as the Feast of Trumpets. It is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days (יָמִים נוֹרָאִים Yamim Nora’im), which usually occur in the early autumn of the Northern Hemisphere.

Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration, which begins on the first day of Tishrei. Tishrei is the first month of the Jewish civil year, but the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year.

Rosh Hashanah customs include sounding the shofar (a hollowed-out ram’s horn), as prescribed in the Torah, following the prescription of the Hebrew Bible to “raise a noise” on Yom Teruah; and among its rabbinical customs, is the eating of symbolic foods such as apples dipped in honey to evoke a “sweet new year”.

Yom Kippur

Hebrew: יוֹם כִּיפּוּר or יום הכיפורים), also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.

Sukkot

Hebrew: סוכות‎‎ or סֻכּוֹת, is a biblical Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei (varies from late September to late October). The Hebrew word sukkōt is the plural of sukkah, “booth” a walled structure covered with s’chach (plant material such as overgrowth or palm leaves). Sukkah is the name of the temporary dwelling in which farmers would live during the harvest, also reminiscent of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and many people sleep there as well.  On each day of the holiday it is mandatory to perform a waving ceremony with the Four Species.

Shmini Atzeret

Hebrew: שְׁמִינִי עֲצֶרֶת a Jewish holiday celebrated on the 22nd day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, usually coinciding with late September and/or early October. It directly follows the festival of Sukkot which is celebrated for seven days, and thus Shemini Atzeret is literally the eighth day. It is a separate—yet connected—holy day devoted to the spiritual aspects of the festival of Sukkot. Part of its duality as a holy day is that it is simultaneously considered to be both connected to Sukkot and also a separate festival in its own right.

Simchat Torah

Hebrew: שִׂמְחַת תּוֹרָה, “Rejoicing of/with the Torah” is a Jewish holiday that celebrates and marks the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle. The main celebration of Simchat Torah takes place in the synagogue during evening and morning services. In Orthodox as well as many Conservative congregations, this is the only time of year on which the Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark and read at night. 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, the worshipers leave their seats to dance and sing with the Torah scrolls in a joyous celebration that can last for several hours.

Hanukkah

Hebrew: חֲנֻכָּה is a Jewish holiday commemorating the re-dedication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem . Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.  

The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched menorah (also called a Chanukiah/Hanukiah), one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night.  Other Hanukkah festivities include playing dreidel and eating oil-based foods such as doughnuts and latkes.

Tu B'Shevat

Hebrew: ט״ו בשבט‎ is a Jewish holiday occurring on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat. It is also called “Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot” (Hebrew: ראש השנה לאילנות‎‎), literally “New Year of the Trees.” In contemporary Israel, the day is celebrated as an ecological awareness day, and trees are planted in celebration. Its role is important to the concept of Chadash.

Purim

Hebrew:  פּוּרִים is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, who was planning to kill all the Jews. This took place in the ancient Persian Empire. The story is recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther.  Purim is celebrated annually according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, the day following the victory of the Jews over their enemies. In cities that were protected by a surrounding wall at the time of the Biblical Joshua, Purim is instead celebrated on the 15th of the month of Adar on what is known as Shushan Purim, since fighting in the walled city of Shushan continued through the 14th day of Adar. Today, only Jerusalem and a few other cities celebrate Purim on the 15th of Adar.

Pesach

Hebrew פֶּסַח is an important, biblically derived Jewish festival. The Jewish people celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation by God from slavery in Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses. Passover commences on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan and lasts for either seven days or eight days for Orthodox, Hasidic, and most Conservative Jews.  The rituals unique to the Passover celebrations commence with the Passover Seder when the 15th of Nisan has begun. It is one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays.

Yom HaShoah

Hebrew יום השואה and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is observed as Israel’s day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accessories, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. In Israel, it is a national memorial day. It was inaugurated in 1953, anchored by a law signed by the Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion and the President of Israel Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. It is held on the 27th of Nisan (April/May), unless the 27th would be adjacent to the Jewish Sabbath, in which case the date is shifted by a day.

Yom HaAtzmaut

Hebrew: יום העצמאות‎‎  “Day of Independence” is the national day of Israel, commemorating the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. It is celebrated either on the 5th of Iyar, according to the Hebrew calendar, or on one of the preceding or following days, depending on which day of the week this date falls on. Yom Hazikaron, the Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day is followed by Independence Day.

Lag B'Omer

Hebrew: ל״ג בעומר‎‎, a Jewish holiday celebrated on the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar.  This day marks the hillula (celebration, interpreted by some as anniversary of death) of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a Mishnaic sage and leading disciple of Rabbi Akiva in the 2nd century, and the day on which he revealed the deepest secrets of kabbalah in the form of the Zohar (Book of Splendor), a landmark text of Jewish mysticism. This association has spawned several well-known customs and practices on Lag BaOmer, including the lighting of bonfires, pilgrimages to the tomb of Bar Yochai in the northern Israeli town of Meron, and various customs at the tomb itself.

 

Shavuot

Hebrew: שבועות‎‎ known as the Feast of Weeks in English is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (may fall between 14 May–15 June).  Shavuot has a double significance. It marks the wheat harvest in the Land of Israel and it commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the entire nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai.

The holiday is one of the three Biblical pilgrimage festivals.  Its date is directly linked to that of Passover. The word Shavuot means weeks, and the festival of Shavuot marks the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and Shavuot.

Tisha B'Av

Hebrew: תשעה באב or ט׳ באב is an annual fast day in Judaism which commemorates the anniversary of a number of disasters in Jewish history, primarily the destruction of both the First Temple by the Babylonians and the Second Temple by the Romans in Jerusalem.

 Tisha B’Av is regarded as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar and it is thus believed to be a day which is destined for tragedy. Tisha B’Av falls in July or August in the Western calendar.  The observance of the day includes five prohibitions, most notable of which is a 25-hour fast. The Book of Lamentations, which mourns the destruction of Jerusalem is read in the synagogue, followed by the recitation of kinnot, liturgical dirges that lament the loss of the Temples and Jerusalem. As the day has become associated with remembrance of other major calamities which have befallen the Jewish people, some kinnot also recall events such as the murder of the Ten Martyrs by the Romans, massacres in numerous medieval Jewish communities during the Crusades and The Holocaust.