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Passover

Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is one of the three major pilgrimage festivals of ancient Israel and commemorates the Exodus from Egypt. Its name comes from the miracle in which God “passed over” the houses of the Israelites during the tenth plague. Centered on the family or communal celebration of the seder (ritual meal), Passover is one of the most beloved …

Purim

Purim is a joyous holiday that celebrates the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre in ancient Persia. Purim or the Feast of Lots, is a joyous holiday that recounts the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre during the Persian period (539-330 BCE). The story of Purim is recounted in the Book of Esther, whose eponymous heroine …

Chanukah

Chanukah / Chanukkah / Hanukkah , or the Festival of Rededication, celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its defilement by the Syrian Greeks in 164 BCE. Although it is a late addition to the Jewish liturgical calendar, the eight-day festival of Chanukkah has become a beloved and joyous holiday. It is also known as …

Simchat Torah

Atzeret and Simchat Torah . In Israel and among liberal Jews they are combined into one holiday on the day after the conclusion of Sukkot . Among more traditional Jews outside of Israel, they are observed separately from one another on two consecutive days. Shemini Atzeret means the “Eighth Day of Assembly,” while Simchat Torah means “Rejoicing in Torah.” Shemini Atzeret/Simchat …

Sukkot

Beginning five days after Yom Kippur, Sukkot is named after the booths or huts (sukkot in Hebrew) in which Jews are supposed to dwell during this week-long celebration. Beginning five days after Yom Kippur, Sukkot is named after the booths or huts (sukkot in Hebrew) in which Jews are supposed to dwell during this week-long celebration. According to …

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year—the day on which we are closest to G‑d and to the quintessence of our own souls. It is the Day of Atonement—“For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before G‑d” (Leviticus 16:30). What: Yom Kippur is …

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) is simultaneously a time of great celebration and subtle trepidation. It is a day to celebrate our creation, but also a day of accounting and judgment for our actions. On Rosh Hashanah, we relate to God as the ultimate judge. The symbolic Book of Life is opened and we become advocates for our …

Shabbat

The Sabbath (in Hebrew, Shabbat , pronounced shah-BAHT–or in some communities, Shabbos, “SHAH-bis”) may be Judaism’s most distinctive and characteristic practice, as well as one of its most pervasive and long-lasting gifts to Western civilisation. A weekly 25-hour observance, from just before sundown each Friday through the completion of nightfall on Saturday, Shabbat is more than just a day …