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Holidays

JEWISH HOLIDAYS

All Jewish holidays begin at sundown on the evening before the date shown.

Shabbat:
Every week, from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday.
The Sabbath, known as the most important holiday, commemorates God’s day of
rest on the seventh day of Creation.

Rosh Hashanah: September 20-September 22, 2017
Literally means “head of the year.” Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish calendar yea. It begins a 10-day period of repentance and prayer that ends on Yom Kippur. The holiday is celebrated with feasts and apples dipped in honey to symbolize the hope for a sweet year to come. It is marked by communal prayer.

Yom Kippur: September 30, 2017
The Day of Atonement is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, marking the end of the 10 days of repentance. It is spent in fasting and prayer as a community. Sounding of the shofar signals the end of the holiday.

Sukkot: October 5-11, 2017
The harvest festival, or Feast of Tabernacles, is named for the temporary dwellings, decorated with fruit and vegetables, set up to recall the booths in which the Jews lived during their journey from Egypt. The holiday also is marked by processions with the lulav (palm branch with myrtle and willow) and etrog.

Shemini Atzeret: October 12, 2017
The eighth day of Assembly. Either the final day of Sukkot, or a distinct holiday immediately following Sukkot, depending on which interpretation is followed. Historically, it allowed an extra day in Jerusalem for Jewish pilgrims to go to the Temple.

Simchat Torah: October 13, 2017
The day after Sukkot, Simchat Torah marks the end of the annual Torah reading cycle and the beginning of the cycle for the coming year. The holiday is celebrated with singing, dancing and processions of men and women carrying Torahs and children waving flags. Note: some congregations celebrate Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah together on the dates listed here for Shemini Atzeret.

Chanukah: December 25-January 1, 2017; December 13-20, 2017
In 179 BCE (Before the Common era), the Maccabees led a band of Jews in battle against invading Syrian Greek warriors who had desecrated the Temple and extinguished the altar’s eternal light. The victorious Maccabees only found enough oil to keep the light burning for one night, but the oil lasted eight days until more could be made. The Chanukah menorah is lit for eight nights to celebrate that miracle. Children play with dreidels, foods fried in oil are customarily served and gifts are exchanged.

Tu B’Shevat: January 26, 2017; January 31, 2018
This holiday, the New Year of the Trees, marks the coming of spring in Israel. It is celebrated by having picnics, planting trees and eating fruit.

Purim: March 25, 2017; March 2, 2018
The Feast of Lots recalls the rescue of the Jews of Ancient Persia for annihilation at the hands of Haman, who cast lots to choose this day for his plot. Queen Esther and her cousin, Mordechai, foiled his plan. On Purim, the Megillah of Esther is read, and the holiday is celebrated with festivity, costumes and noisemakers (greggors). Hamantaschen (three-cornered pastries) are the traditional food, and misloach manot (gift packages) are exchanged.

Passover: April 11-18, 2017; March 31-April 8, 2018
The exodus of the Jews form Egypt is celebrated with the eight-day festival of Passover. Ridding the home of chometz (leavened food) and eating only unleavened items commemorate the haste in which the former slaves fled Egypt, leaving them too little time for their bread dough to rise. Jews traditionally give maot chitim (charitable contributions) to the poor at Passover and invite others to join their Seders. The second night of Passover initiates a 49-day period (the Omer) that recalls the receiving of the Torah at Sinai.

Yom Hashoah: April 24, 2017; April 12, 2018
The day is marked by memorials and dedications to those who perished in the Holocaust.

Yom Hazikaron: May 1, 2017; April 18, 2018
Memorial Day for all who died serving Israel. Concludes with a siren blast as stars appear and Independence Day begins.

Yom Ha’aztmaut: May 2, 2017; April 19, 2018
Jews around the world celebrate Israel Independence Day. Israel celebrates with parades, singing, dancing and fireworks.

Lag B’Omer: May 14, 2017; May 3, 2018
This holiday is a tribute to Jewish martyrs and mystics, and marks the 33rd day of the Omer, which breaks-up the seven weeks of semi-mourning between Passover and Shavuot. Children parade as soldiers to commemorate the Bar Kochba Rebellion, and synagogues are decorated with candles. Children often participate in a field day of athletic competition.

Shavuot: May 31-June 1, 2017; May 20-21, 2018
Shavuot marks the end of the counting of the Omer, which recalls Moses receiving the Torah from God at Sinai. The Megillah of Ruth is read, and all-night Torah study is customary. Confirmation ceremonies, dairy foods, honey and floral decorations are traditional.

Tisha B’Av: August 7, 2017; July 22, 2018
This solemn holiday is a reminder of the destruction of the First and Second Temples and the loss of the Jewish state to the Romans. Lamentations is read and it is traditional to fast.

Work is restricted on most holidays.