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Welcoming the Shabbat
You may ask why the first mitzvah of Shabbat is the kindling of lights. That is because Shabbat is actually a celebration of the Creator and His Creation. G‑d’s creation of the world follows a seven-day cycle, which peaks each Shabbat and begins anew. At Creation, the first thing that was brought into being was light. Therefore, it is appropriate to kindle lights at the start of Shabbat in commemoration of the first light that was created.
Full PDF CALENDAR OF SHABBATT CANDLE LIGHTING, READINGS, HOLIDAYS AND FAST BELOW
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Sukkot is a weeklong Jewish holiday that comes five days after Yom Kippur. Sukkot celebrates the gathering of the harvest and commemorates the miraculous protection G‑d provided for the children of Israel when they left Egypt. We celebrate Sukkot by dwelling in a foliage-covered booth (known as a sukkah) and by taking the “Four Kinds” (arba minim), four special species of vegetation. Sukkot also means “booths” or “huts” in…
Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement.” It is the holiest and most solemn day of the Jewish year and is a fast day. According to tradition, at the end of Yom Kippur, God “seals” our fates for the coming year (i.e., whether we will be inscribed in the Book of Life). The main themes of this day are sin, repentance…
The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is blowing the shofar (ram’s horn) on both mornings of the holiday (except on Shabbat), which is normally done in the synagogue as part of the day’s services. Rosh Hashanah feasts traditionally include round challah bread (studded with raisins) and apples dipped in honey, as well as other foods that symbolize our wishes for a sweet year. Other Rosh Hashanah observances include candle lighting in the evenings…
Felonious Monk is celebrating Tu Bishvat with a (daydream) hike in the Holyland! He is resting against an olive tree that is hundreds of years old. He reflects on how peaceful it is here with an ancient symbol of peace (remember the dove and the olive branch from the story of Noah?). He says a quiet prayer asking peace for…
Important Upcoming Dates
15 Shevat 2024 (Jan 25)
The New Year for Trees
Traditionally, Tu Bishvat was not a Jewish festival. Rather, it marked an important date for Jewish farmers in ancient times. The Torah states, “When you enter the land [of Israel] and plant any tree for food, you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden for you, not to be eaten” (Leviticus 19:23). The fruit of the fourth year was to be offered to the priests in the Temple as a gift of gratitude for the bounty of the land, and the fifth-year fruit–and all subsequent fruit–was finally for the farmer. This law, however, raised the question of how farmers were to mark the “birthday” of a tree. The Rabbis therefore established the 15th of the month of Shevat as a general “birthday” for all trees, regardless of when they were planted.
Fruit trees were awarded the special status in the Torah because of their importance in sustaining life and as a symbol of God’s divine favour. Even during times of war, God warns the Israelites, “When in your war against a city you have to besiege it a long time to capture it, you must not destroy its trees… Are trees of the field human to withdraw before you into the besieged city? Only trees that you know do not yield food may be destroyed” (Deuteronomy 20:19-20).
It is also called Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot ( ראש השנה לאילנות), literally “New Year of the Trees“.
In Israel, the kabbalistic Tu BiShvat seder has been revived, and is now celebrated by many Jews, religious and secular. Special haggadot have been written for this purpose,
In the Hasidic community, some Jews pickle or candy the etrog (citron) from Sukkot and eat it on Tu BiShvat. Some pray that they will be worthy of a beautiful etrog on the following Sukkot.
Sephardic Jews prepare a dessert made of grains, dried fruits, and nuts, known as Ashure or trigo koço, to celebrate the holiday.