Jewish Holidays & Services
As Fall approaches, Jews throughout the world prepare for a unique ten-day period of prayer, self-examination, fasting, and repentance. It is time for the Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe, the High Holy Days: Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. These holidays are preceded by a month of reflection: the Hebrew month of Elul. During this time, morning worship includes special penitential prayers and concludes with the blowing of the shofar as a reminder of the approaching season of atonement. High Holy Day services at The Temple are led from Mishkan Hanefesh, the new Machzor of Reform Judaism, Creative Children’s Services feature storybook themes, and Classical Services are led from the Sinai Edition of the Old Union Prayer book.
Sukkot, a Hebrew word meaning “booths” or “huts,” refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the Fall harvest, as well as the commemoration of the forty years of Jewish wandering in the desert after Sinai. Sukkot is a time when we remember that there are people less fortunate and do not have the resources to eat nutritiously in our community with a Food Drive and participation in the Hunger Walk.
Simchat Torah, Hebrew for “rejoicing in the Torah”, celebrates the completion of the annual reading of the Torah. Simchat Torah is a joyous festival, in which we affirm our view of the Torah as a tree of life and demonstrate a living example of never-ending, lifelong study. At The Temple we welcome our first grade students with a service of Consecration, the Torah scrolls are taken from the ark and carried or danced around the synagogue in a special family oriented service that is shared by all.
Hanukkah, meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, refers to the joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Macabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and “re-dedication” of the Temple in Jerusalem. Our brotherhood Hanukkah supper is the stuff of legends. 1000 latkes are prepared, songs and games for all ages are shared, and a visit from Jeremy Klotz, director of GUCI is welcomed.
Or the “New Year of the Trees” is the birthday of the trees. The holiday is observed on the fifteenth (tu) of the month of Shvat. Scholars believe that Tu B’Shvat was originally an agricultural festival, marking the emergence of Spring. Here at The Temple we celebrate Tu B’Shvat with a chocolate Seder of mystical origins which connects us to the earth and the land of Israel.
Purim is celebrated by the reading of the Scroll of Esther, known in Hebrew as the Megillat Esther, which relates the basic story of Purim. Under the rule of King Ahashuerus, Haman, the King’s prime minister, plots to exterminate all of the Jews of Persia. His plan is foiled by Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai, who ultimately save the Jews of the land from destruction. The reading of the megillah is typically a rowdy affair, punctuated by booing and noise-making when Haman’s name is read aloud. Our Purim Carnival is always loads of fun with costumes, games and family fun for all ages.
Pesach, known as Passover in English, is a major Jewish Spring festival, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt over 3,000 years ago. The ritual observance of this holiday centers around a special home service called the seder (meaning “order”) and a festive meal; the prohibition of chametz (leaven); and the eating of matzah (an unleavened bread). The Temple offers a variety of Passover Seder experiences for women, families, young people and more.
Yom HaShoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day. Shoah, which means catastrophe or utter destruction in Hebrew, refers to the atrocities that were committed against the Jewish people during World War II. This is a memorial day for those who died in the Shoah. The Temple Yom Hashoah Shabbat is led by our sixth grade class as a culmination of their yearlong study of the Holocaust.
Yom HaZikaron & Yom HaAtzmaut
Since the establishment of the State of Israel, four new holidays have been added to the Jewish calendar – Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day), Yom HaAatzmaut (Independence Day), and Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day). In Israel, these holidays are observed as national holidays.
Shavuot is a 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. Confirmation of our 10th grade students occurs on Shavuot Eve in a special service which students and their families prepare for the entire congregation.
Learn about the Jewish holidays and explore the customs and traditions of Reform Judaism.
*Information courtesy of URJ.org, 2012 and ReformJudaism.org.uk, 2012