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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.
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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
Our Next Major Holiday
Begins sunset of Thursday, December 7, 2023
Ends at nightfall on Friday, December 15, 2023
work is permitted
Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of lights, lasting for more than eight days and traditionally a time for gift-giving.
The word Hanukkah itself means ‘re-dedication’ and is intended to remind Jews of a time over 2,000 years ago when their ancestors won a battle against the Greeks to practice their religion freely. They lit an oil lamp to celebrate, with only enough oil to burn the candle for one day—yet miraculously, it burned for eight.
It’s a fun time for children who will receive gifts and Hanukkah money, while some families give each other a small present each of the eight nights of the festival. Other traditions include lighting the menorah each night, playing dreidel games, and eating foods cooked in oil.