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Other Holidays and Festivals
Sukkot, which comes on the fifth day after Yom Kippur, lasts for seven days. During that time, we remember the protection God gave the Jewish people during the 40 years they spent traveling in the desert. In the Bible, God instructs the ancient Israelites to "dwell in booths (or tents) for seven days of the holiday of Sukkot, because your ancestors dwelt in them during their sojourn in the desert when they departed from Egypt."
At Solel, we decorate the sukkah on the evening Sukkot begins with a picnic dinner, followed by festive Sukkot family services. Yiskor services are held on Sukkot morning.
Simchat Torah celebrates the yearlong cycle of reading the Torah. On Simchat Torah, we read the very last chapter of Deuteronomy, then roll the Torah back to the beginning and read the very first chapter of Genesis. At Solel, we consecrate our new Religious School students, regardless of age, at our Simchat Torah services. These services are festive and geared toward young families, though all are welcome.
Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt in the second century. It celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. Chanukah begins every year on the 25th of the Hebrew month of "Kislev" (Tuesday, December 20 for 2011).
To download a six page guide to Chanukah, including how to prepare the menorah, the blessings, songs, and the rules for playing Dreidel, click here.
Purim celebrates the downfall of a man who wished to wipe out the Jewish people. The Megillah—the Book of Esther, which is read on Purim—tells us to keep the 14th of Adar as a day of joy and happiness. The Megillah of Esther is read in the synagogue after the evening service on the Eve of Purim and again on the morning of Purim.
At Solel, we hold a Purim Shpiel on the Sunday morning of Purim, when adult congregants entertain our Religious School children and their parents with a Purim parody; the fun continues with a Purim carnival.
Passover is a holiday that commemorates the liberation of the ancient Israelites from 400 years of slavery in Egypt some 3,000 years ago. Since that time, the holiday has come to represent the universal value of freedom. It is the holiday when family and friends gather around the Seder table to celebrate.
At Solel, we hold an Interfaith Seder to commemorate Passover with community friends and we celebrate Pesach at the Religious School.
Shavuot is a spring holiday that celebrates the first harvest, the ripening of the first fruits, and most importantly, the giving of the Torah. In the Bible, Shavuot is called by various other names: Feast of Weeks, Feast of The First Fruits and Feast of the Giving of the Law.
At Solel, our confirmation students lead our joyous Shavuot service, as they complete their confirmation course of study.
The day each new Jewish month begins is a minor festival of Rosh Chodesh. Since the Jewish calendar is based on the cycles of the moon and then adjusted according to the seasons, Jewish months begin on the new moon—that is, when no moon is showing.
Shemini Atzeret ("The Assembly of the Eighth Day"),
Jews complete the annual reading of the Torah on Shemini Atzeret, the eighth day after the start of Sukkot. Shemini Atzeret marks the start of the rainy season in Israel—people recite the Tefillat Geshem (the Prayer for Rain) for the first time of the year starting this day and every day until Passover. In Israel—and by most Reform Jews—Shemini Atzeret is on the same day as Simchat Torah.
Tu B’Shevat is the Jewish Earth Day, the Birthday of Trees. We give thanks for trees and eat fruit native to Israel in appreciation for the harvest.
Known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, YomHaShoahsolemnly memorializes the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered by the Nazis. Jews commemorate those killed by lighting Yahrzeit memorial candles, reading the names of those who perished, attending Holocaust museums and listening to the stories of survivors to help ensure that it will never happen again.
Israel's Memorial Day, Yom HaZikaron, takes place on the 4th of the Jewish month Iyar, the day before Israel's Independence Day. It commemorates and pays tribute to the soldiers who died fighting for Israel's independence and its subsequent wars and battles. It also functions as a remembrance for victims of all attacks against the Jewish and Israeli people, including those victims of recent terrorism. On Yom HaZikaron, Jews around the world think about and pay respect to Israel's fallen heroes.
On Yom Ha'Atzmaut, or Israel's Independence Day, Jews commemorate the 1948 declaration by David Ben-Gurion of the birth of a modern Jewish state in former British-controlled land, ending 2,000 years without a sovereign Jewish Country. Israelis celebrate the formation of their state with parades, parties and fireworks, and Diaspora Jews celebrate in similar ways.
Yom Yerushalayim (or Jerusalem Day)
Yom Yerushalayim, which takes place on the 28th day of the Hebrew month Iyar, commemorates the reunification of Jerusalem. By defeating Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, Israel conquered the Old City of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas of East Jerusalem. These areas were later merged with Israeli West Jerusalem.
On Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, Jews fast and mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples and a host of other tragedies in Jewish history that occurred on this date.