Religious Holidays

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah (literally “head of the year”), the Jewish New Year, is the beginning of the High Holy Days, the ten-day period of penitence and introspection. Services offer participants the opportunity to reflect on the past year and look forward to the year ahead. As in Israel, we observe two days of Rosh Hashanah.

For the first day, we have an Erev Rosh Hashanah service the night before. Then on the first day, we have a morning Rosh Hashanah service followed by a community potluck (luncheon). Later that same day, we have a Tashlich service at Lafarge Lake. On the second day, we have a morning service only.

Our mahzor, the special prayer book used for the High Holiday services, is both English and Hebrew, but does not contain the transliteration (with the exception of the mourner’s kaddish prayer).

As is customary, you need High Holiday tickets to attend our High Holiday services, but no one is turned away. (To purchase tickets, please contact us.) High Holiday tickets are included in Membership fees.


Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is considered the most sacred day of the year, ending the ten days of penitence (and our High Holiday services). Our services include Kol Nidre (the evening before), morning services, an afternoon break, Yizkor (remembrance service), and the N’eilah (concluding service), followed by a community potluck to break the fast.


Sukkot

Sukkot, a week-long holiday that occurs 5 days after Yom Kippur, is the last of the three pilgrimage festivals. This joyous festival commemorates the 40 years of Jewish wandering in the desert.

For this holiday, we erect a small sukkah outside our building. Our community celebration, led by Cantor Steve Levin, occurs during Hebrew School (Sunday morning). Come learn about the meaning of the sukkah and participate in the ritual waving of the lulav and etrog.


Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah

Shemini Atzeret is an independent holiday that directly follows Sukkot, and Simchat Torah is a joyous celebration of the conclusion and restart of the annual cycle of Torah readings.

As in Israel, we combine these two holidays into one day (although we do not always celebrate it on the actual day of the holiday). During our evening service, we dance and carry our two Torahs around inside our sanctuary seven times. We have food, more dancing, food, music, and a fun time. Come help us reroll one of our Torahs back to the beginning.


Hanukkah

Hanukkah, the festival of lights, celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the successful Maccabean revolt by lighting candles each night.

For this holiday, we have a community celebration during Hebrew School (Sunday morning) with a musical production by the Hebrew School students, carnival games, and community candle lighting, followed by a potluck luncheon and lots of homemade latkes.


Purim

Purim celebrates the saving of the Jewish people from extermination, as described in the book of Esther.

For this holiday, we have a community celebration during Hebrew School (Sunday morning), followed by a potluck luncheon. See the musical production by the Hebrew School students, listen to the reading of the Megillah, play carnival games, and participate in the hamantaschen fundraising sale.


Pesach

Pesach, also known as Passover, is a week-long holiday that celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. It is the first of the three pilgrimage festivals. There are several mitzvoth (commandments) unique to this holiday: matzah (the eating of unleavened bread); maror (the eating of bitter herbs) chametz (abstention from eating leaven) b’iur chametz (removal of leaven from the home); and haggadah (participation in the seder meal and telling the story).

For this holiday, we clean our kitchen the weekend before, removing all chametz. (We do seal items we wish to keep in a separate cabinet which is not opened for the duration of Pesach.)

In addition, we host a community seder, led by Cantor Steve Levin. The dinner is a meat meal (no dairy) – the food is kosher, catered, and marvelous. Tickets are required to attend. Members can get an early bird discount. The seder is announced well in advance.


Shavuot

Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and is the second of the three pilgrimage festivals.


Other Special Days

Tu B’Shevat, Tisha B’Av, Yom Ha’atzmaut, Yom Hashoah are also marked by celebrations or services.


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