Holidays, Fasts, Festivals

Shavuot commemorates the spring harvest and the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

Shavout also know as, the “Feast of Weeks,” is celebrated seven weeks after Passover (Pesach). Since the counting of this period (sefirat ha-omer) begins on the second evening of Passover, Shavuot takes place exactly 50 days after the (first) seder. Although its origins are to be found in an ancient grain harvest festival, Shavuot has long been identified with the giving of the…

Sukkot is a festive time meant for gathering together. A few facts to help you.

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, most solemn of Jewish religious holidays – Just a few facts!

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…

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Rosh Hashanah – a few facts and insights

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-Bishavat

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…

A Chanukah tradition – latkes (The story behind them and receipe

Let me teach you a bit about the origins of the food customs associated with the eight days of Hanukkah – potato latkes.  Early texts recount the rebellion, the recapture of the temple and rededication ceremony, but references to the “miracle” connected to Hanukkah do not appear until nearly 600 years later. We learn that the remaining supply of consecrated…

The Real Short Version of the Passover Story

Passover or Pesach is the second most important holy day of the Jewish year and The Seder is the most commonly celebrated Jewish ritual, performed by Jews all over the world.   Passover commemorates the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt and the “passing over” of the forces of destruction, or the sparing of the firstborn of the Israelites, when…

The Story of Hamantaschen

Every 14th day of Adar on the Hebrew calendar Jewish people celebrate Purim. It’s a joyous holiday that marks the time the Persian Jewish population was saved from genocide. Okay, while Purim does have rather dark underpinnings, it really is supposed to be a fun celebration of survival full of wine, noisemakers and hamantaschen – the triangle cookie-like pastry with…

A Telling of the Purim Story

The Basic Purim StoryA Brief Retelling of the Book of Esther (Megillah)   A Fateful Party It all began in Ancient Persia in the fourth century BCE. The Holy Temple that had stood in Jerusalem was destroyed more than 50 years earlier, and the Jews were subjects of the mighty Persian empire that extended over 127 lands. Three years after…

The Most Important Jewish Holidays

Rosh HashanahThe Jewish New Year, the beginning of ten days of penitence or teshuvah culminating on Yom Kippur. Traditionally celebrated with sweet or round foods such as apples and honey, and the blowing of the shofar, a hollowed-out ram’s horn, during religious services. A customary greeting is shanah tovah or “happy new year!” Yom KippurThe Day of Atonement; a very solemn day devoted to fasting,…