- Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippor, the anniversary of the Creation of the World, and the day of atonement for our sins.
- Succot (Succus, Succos, Sukkot, Succoth, Festival of Tabernacles, Feast of Booths). The Sinai or fall harvest pilgrimage festival. Live or at least eat in a booth (succah), wave
your lulav, smell an etrog, parade a Hoshana, read Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) and remember the fragility of human institutions, the vanity of vanities and the need for openness.
- Hoshana Rabba, Simhat Torah. Shake your lulav, dance all night: A people is founded on law with aspirations to justice. The Torah is given on Sinai and we begin reading it in shul.
Guaranteed aliyahs for all who stay to finish the reading of the Torah and begin it again.
- Chappy Chanukah.
- Christmas. Huh?! Christmas isn't a Jewish holiday, but it is a holiday for most everyone else around here, so in many places the Jewish community staffs Christmas
Dinner at the Homeless Shelter. Call your local synagogue or JCC to volunteer.
- Tu B'Shvat. New Year of the trees. Eat the fruits of the Land, plant a tree, have a campfire, roast potatoes, sing songs, buy a tree in Israel,
write a letter to the President or your congressperson on an environmental issue. Or, for the kabbalists among you, have a full Tu B'Shvat seder. This new/old holiday is in a state of creative
ferment. Read a Jerusalem Report article on the rise of modern Tu B'Shvat celebrations. Download Tu B'Shvat seder texts prepared by the Berkeley
Reform chavura or COEJL: the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. Download jbop,
a terrific game (designed for elementary schoolers by JeMM) to learn about Tu B'Shevat and have fun at the same time.
- Purim. The Festival of Lots. Read the Book of Esther and celebrate victory over injustice and oppression, survival against the odds, a God who doesn't guarantee the victory of good
- It's carnival time:
- Write a perform a Purim Spiel (the traditional spoof play, often but not necessarily the Book of Esther in drag or local satire).
- Celebrate overturnings by dressing up and partying; get so drunk you can't tell Hamen from Mordechai.
- All the local congregations have megillah (Esther) readings, mostly designed to be kid friendly (kids and grownups invited to come in costume).
- Give gifts of food to your friends and money to the poor.
- Make your own hamentashen (Hamen's hat cookies; Hamen's ears to the Sephardim).
- And today, you should let someone give you the whole megillah.
- Purim Bibliography:
- Passover (Pesah, Pesach), our time of Freedom. You were strangers in Egypt and must, therefore, free the oppressed. Our Passover page includes Passover
shopping, Pesah recipes, Passover bibliography, web links, etc.
- Holocaust Week, Mideast Week, Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day).
- Lag B'Omer. Hide in caves, shoot bows and arrows, flee Romans, secretly study Torah, get a haircut, pray at a mystic's grave. Calling for freedom to learn!
- Shavuot (Shavuos, Shavuoth, The Feast of Weeks). Read the Book of Ruth, defend the poor, foreigners and the oppressed. Make blintzes or Hungarian Cheese
Latkes and study the law of the corners of the field -- the obligation to support the poor. Many congregations meet for a late night study & blintz session (tikkun) on Erev
- Tisha B'Av. Read Eicha (Lamentations). Fast for the destruction of the First and Second Temple, the expulsion from Spain and other disasters.
- Roshei Hodesh: The new moon. Join a Women's Group. Or organize a group to say Birkat HaLevana.
- Hillel International Center Web Site Holiday Resources (go to "Jewish Resources", then "Holidays".)
- JTS (one of the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Seminaries) distance learning site
on the holidays, including history, study, practice guides, spiritual resources, gifts, greeting cards, games, etc.
- Rabbis For Human Rights-North America has put together a High Holiday Resource Packet, including liturgical texts (new prayers
and commentary on traditional ones), contemporary voices on the current conflicts, and study texts on the creation of humans in the image of God, the place of suffering and tears, and the
commandment of tochekha (moral criticism).
- Booklets explaining the structure of the service and other synagogue customs, a transliterated service, and vocabulary.
- Richard Siegel, Michael Strassfeld and Sharon Strassfeld, The Jewish Catalog: A Do-It-Yourself Kit. (Jewish Publication Society). Still the best introduction to doing it yourself.
- Michael Strassfeld, The Jewish Holidays A Guide and Commentary. (1985: Harper and Row). Readable and sophisticated discussions of the traditions and customs of all the holidays.
- Kerry M. Olitzky and Ronald H. Isaacs, The How To Handbook For Jewish Living (1993 KTAV Publishing). Simple directions for the choreography of Jewish life: the basic blessings,
how to wave a lulav, how to make havdalah, when to bow in the Amidah, making matzoh, and so on.
- Anita Diamant, Living a Jewish Life. The author of the best book on Jewish weddings is expanding her repertoire.
- The Yo-Yo Guide to the Jewish Holidays, from David Bader's "How To Be An Extremely
- Jewish Holiday Jokes, from Lori's Mishmash Jewish Jokes page.
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