|Rosh Hashanah||Sept. 18-20, 2020||Sept. 6-8, 2021|
|Yom Kippur||Sept. 27-28, 2020||Sept. 15-16, 2021|
|Sukkot||Sept. 2-9, 2020||Sept. 20-27, 2021|
|Simchat Torah||Oct. 9-10, 2020||Oct. 27-28, 2021|
|Hanukkah||Dec. 10-18, 2020||Nov. 28-Dec. 6, 2021|
|Tu B’Shevat||Jan. 27-28, 2021||Jan. 16-17, 2022|
|Purim||Feb. 25-26, 2021||March 16-17, 2022|
|Passover||March 27-April 3, 2021||April 15-22, 2022|
|Yom Hashoah||April 7-8, 2021||April 27-28, 2022|
|Yom Ha’atzma’ut||April 15-16, 2021||May 4-5, 2022|
|Shavuot||May 16-17, 2021||June 4-5, 2022|
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 Book of Life is opened before the Divine Being and we become advocates for our personal inscription into this book. We review the choices we have made over the past year, our actions and our intentions, as we attempt to honestly evaluate ourselves.
Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement” and refers to the annual Jewish observance of fasting, prayer and repentance. Part of the High Holidays, which also includes Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. In three separate passages in the Torah, the Jewish people are told, “the tenth day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be a sacred occasion for you: You shall practice self-denial.”(Leviticus 23:27). Fasting is seen as fulfilling this biblical commandment. The Yom Kippur fast also enables us to put aside our physical desires to concentrate on our spiritual needs through prayer, repentance and self-improvement.
Sukkot, a Hebrew word meaning “booths” or “huts,” refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest. It also commemorates the 40 years of Jewish wandering in the desert after the giving of the Torah atop Mt. Sinai.
Immediately following Sukkot, we celebrate Sh’mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, a fun-filled day during which we celebrate the completion of the annual reading of the Torah and affirm Torah as one of the pillars on which we build our lives. As part of the celebration, the Torah scrolls are taken from the ark and carried or danced around the synagogue seven times. During the Torah service, the concluding section of the fifth book of the Torah, D’varim (Deuteronomy), is read, and immediately following, the opening section of Genesis, or B’reishit as it is called in Hebrew, is read. This practice represents the cyclical nature of the relationship between the Jewish people and the reading of the Torah.
Hanukkah meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, refers to the joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and “rededication” of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Tu B’Shevat or the “New Year of the Trees”originated as an agricultural festival, marking the emergence of spring. The holiday also has become a tree-planting festival in Israel, in which Israelis and Jews around the world plant trees in honor or in memory of loved ones and friends.
Purim is celebrated with a public reading—usually in the synagogue—of the Book of Esther (Megillat Esther), which tells the story of the holiday. Under the rule of King Ahashverosh, 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 Persia from destruction. The reading of the megillah typically is a rowdy affair, punctuated by booing and noise-making when Haman’s name is read aloud.
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).
Yom HaShoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, occurs on the 27th of Nisan. 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 Shoah is also known as the Holocaust, from a Greek word meaning “sacrifice by fire.”
Yom HaAtzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, marks the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. It is observed on or near the 5th of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar, which usually falls in April.
Shavuot is the Hebrew word for “weeks” and refers to the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, which occurs seven weeks after Passover.