Rosh Hashanah: The Jewish New Year. It is symbolic that the Book of Life is opened on Rosh Hashana and closed on Yom Kippur. On Rosh Hashana we are commanded to hear the shofar’s blows. The days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, people ask for forgiveness for when they might have wronged a family member or friend.
Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish year. On Yom Kippur those over age thirteen will fast and refrain from water and work for 25 hours.
Sukkot: The festival of the Harvest. On Sukkot, it is customary to eat all of your meals and sleep in the Sukkah, a hut with three walls and partially open roof so you can see the stars. During the sukkot celebration, you shake the etrog and lulav in a ritual celebration of the bounty.
Shemini Atzeret: The eighth and final day of Sukkot.
Simchat Torah: The celebration of completing another year of the Torah’s cycle and beginning again. The Torah scrolls are typically opened up and people dance in the center in celebration.
Chanukah: The festival of lights is celebrated for eight days. Chanukah means dedication, we celebrate the victory and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Fried foods are especially popular during chanukah including latkes, potato pancakes and sufganiyot, doughnuts.
Tu B’shevat: The Jewish New Year of the Trees. Many people will have a seder and plant trees.
Purim: Meaning Lots, on this Holiday we read the Book of Esther. Esther saved the Jewish people from an evil man named Haman. On Purim, many people get dressed up in costumes and consume alcohol. It is customary to use noisemakers or boo when Haman’s name is read. Many people also give gift baskets to their friends or donate to charity. Some people participate in the Fast of Esther the day before.
Pesach: Also known as Passover. Passover is an eight day holiday and includes two seders, religious meals. Pesach tells the story of Moses and the Israelites fleeing Egypt. During the Passover seder, the seder plate holds the symbols of the holiday expressing the Jewish people’s triumphs and sadness. During the eight days Jewish people are not supposed to eat leavened bread and instead have Matzah.
Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Remembrance Day. On Yom Hashoah, the Yahrzeit candles are in memory of the 6 million plus lives lost in the Holocaust. In Israel, a siren is blown and there is a two minute long national moment of silence.
Yom Ha’atzma’ut: Israel’s Independence Day. This holiday celebrates the formal founding of the modern state of Israel. It is popular to have community fairs and to eat falafel.
Lag B’omer: The thirty-third day of the Omer. It is customary to celebrate by spending the day outside, dancing, and lighting a bonfire.
Shavuot: The day on which the Torah was given to the Jewish people on Mt. Sinai. Many people will stay up late studying Torah together. It is also customary to a have dairy meal or cheesecake. On Shavuot, we also read the Book of Ruth, the story of an interfaith Jewish family.
Tisha B’av: This fasting holiday commemorates the destruction of the Temple and the resilience of the Jewish people.
Shabbat: The Sabbath or the day of rest. Beginning at sun down on Friday evening through Saturday night, concluding with Havdalah symbolizing the start of the work week. The symbols of Shabbat include challah, wine, and candles. In some communities, people do not drive or use electronics on Shabbat.