Category: Holidays

What is Purim and When is it Celebrated?

What is Purim and When is it Celebrated?

Purim is about the struggle of identity against assimilation, the value of tolerance, and to live proudly as Jews in an ocean of non-Jews.

The Secrets of Tu Bishvat

The Secrets of Tu Bishvat

A Tu Bishvat secret: If managed carefully, the seven species can go a long way to keeping a person fed for a whole year.

Blurry orchard with the words What is tu bishvat?

What is Tu Bishvat?

Tu Bishvat, the new year for Trees, can remind us that the world is God’s sacred gift to humanity, a precious legacy entrusted to our care.

The Mystery of “Eyn Keloheinu”

The Mystery of “Eyn Keloheinu”

What is the mystery of Eyn Keloheinu? How do we unravel the contradiction that seems to be present within this prayer?

Miracles: The Power of One Letter

Miracles: The Power of One Letter

Conservative/Masorti prayer books include the Hebrew letter “vav” in the blessing for the miracle of Hanukkah. What is its secret?

DIY Hanukkah and the Potato Menorah

DIY Hanukkah and the Potato Menorah

DIY Hanukkah: My custom of making a potato menorah and why DIY Judaica can provide a crucial connection to Judaism.

Liturgy on Ḥanukkah

Liturgical Changes on Hanukkah

Liturgy on Hanukkah includes Hallel and additions to the Amidah. There are also special Torah readings, maftirs, and haftarot.

Songs for Hanukkah

Songs for Hanukkah

Hanukkah songs include those that follow candle lighting, as well as S’vivon sov sov sov, Hanukkah O’Hanukkah, and Neir Li.

The Menorah

The Menorah

The central mitzvah of Ḥanukkah is the lighting of the menorah at home and in the synagogue. This brings light to the darker winter months.

Customs for Hanukkah

Customs for Hanukkah

Beyond lighting the menorah, Hanukkah customs include special foods, the dreidel and gift-giving, especially when spending time with family.

Hanukkah Candle Lighting

Hanukkah Candle Lighting

Read here for the procedure for lighting candles for Hanukkah. This includes the blessings, song ideas, and order for lighting candles.

Hanukkah: History and Context

Hanukkah: History and Context

What is Hanukkah’s historical context? What does it actually commemorate? Who was Judah and the Maccabees?

The Arba•ah Minim

The Arba·ah Minim

Besides dwelling in a sukkah, the other significant mitzvah of Sukkot is the taking up of the arba·ah minim, literally “the four species.”

Sukkot at Home

Sukkot at Home

While celebrating Sukkot at home, rituals include lighting candles, sitting in the sukkah, and customs related to the sukkah.

Sukkot in the Synagogue

Sukkot in the Synagogue

On the mornings of Sukkot, Shacharit and Musaf follow the standard festival format. The lulav and etrog should be shaken.

Intermediate Days of Sukkot

Intermediate Days of Sukkot

The intermediate days of Sukkot, the weekdays, combine some features of festival days and normal weekdays to create wholly unique day.

Hoshana Rabbah

Hoshana Rabbah

Although the fifth intermediate day of Sukkot is known as Hoshana Rabbah, it is technically just the last day of ḥol ha-mo·eid.

Sh'mini Atzeret

Sh’mini Atzeret

The final two days of Sukkot are a totally separate holiday called Sh’mini Atzeret. Liturgy includes Yizkor and the prayer for rain.

Simḥat Torah

Simḥat Torah

Simḥat Torah means “the joy of Torah” and is the name for the day on which the annual cycle of Torah readings begins and ends.

Sh'mini Atzeret Candle Lighting

Sh’mini Atzeret Candle Lighting

The laws for lighting candles on Sh’mini Atzeret are similar to those for Shabbat. These laws also apply to Simḥat Torah.

Rituals of Sukkot

Rituals of Sukkot

Sukkot, one of the shalosh r’galim, the three pilgrimage festivals is celebrated five days after Yom Kippur.

The Sukkah

The Sukkah

The sukkah for Sukkot has some very basic requirements, but beyond these rules its construction is left to one’s imagination and creativity.

Sukkot Candle Lighting

Sukkot Candle Lighting

The laws for lighting candles on Sukkot are almost identical to the laws for Shabbat candle lighting, with the exception of covering eyes.

Ne'ilah

Ne’ilah

Ne’ilah is an additional service, recited only at the conclusion of Yom Kippur. It signifies the sealing of the Book of Life.

Minḥah on Yom Kippur

Minḥah on Yom Kippur

Minhah, the Afternoon Service, begins with the Torah service, including selections from Leviticus and the haftarah on the Book of Jonah.

Yom Kippur Musaf Service

Yom Kippur Musaf Service

The Yom Kippur Musaf Service includes two services: the Avodah service and the Martyrology service. Musaf follows Yizkor and Torah reading.

Yom Kippur Candle Lighting

Yom Kippur Candle Lighting

Following the Yom Kippur meal, candles are lit in a similar fashion to those lit on Rosh Hashanah. A Yizkor candle is also lit.

Yom Kippur Evening Service

Yom Kippur Evening Service

Maariv, the evening service, following Kol Nidrei on Erev Yom Kippur, is similar in many ways to daily Maariv but has notable differences.

Yom Kippur Morning Services

Yom Kippur Morning Services

The Yom Kippur morning service is similar to Rosh Hashanah, with the exception of the Amidah and the selections for the Torah service.

Erev Yom Kippur and the Customs Preceding It

Erev Yom Kippur and the Customs Preceding It

Preparations on Erev Yom Kippur are intrinsic to the awe-inspiring observance of the day: a special meal, candle lighting, and charity.

Kol Nidrei and Being Imperfect Together

Kol Nidrei and Being Imperfect Together

Yom Kippur begins with the dramatic Kol Nidrei service, intended to annul vows made between yourself and God.

Yom Kippur Yizkor Service

Yom Kippur Yizkor Service

The Memorial Service, Yizkor, is recited on Yom Kippur, one of four times throughout the year, to remember loved ones and Jewish martyrs.

Shemini Atzeret: Chilling with God

Shemini Atzeret: Chilling with God

Shemini Atzeret is a holiday that has left Jews puzzled for generations, but it’s really about our intimate relationship with God.

Jewish Halloween: Hoshana Rabbah

Jewish Halloween: Hoshana Rabbah

Rather than prohibit Halloween (and turn Jewish kids off), we have an opportunity to talk about Hoshana Rabbah and our heritage of ghost stories.

What’s Water Got to Do With It?

What’s Water Got to Do With It?

How does the imagery of water and rain connect Shemini Atzreet and Simchat Torah? What can we learn from this?

Just the Tip of the Etrog

Just the Tip of the Etrog

Reflecting on the idea that a tiny, fragile protuberance can make an entire ritual object unfit for use is absurd. Here’s what it teaches us.

What Does it Mean to Dwell in the Sukkah?

What Does it Mean to Dwell in the Sukkah?

Living in the Sukkah can mean just living in an outdoor hut for a week, but it can also bring so much more meaning into your life.

Navigating Yom Kippur with Toddlers and Young Children

Navigating Yom Kippur with Toddlers and Young Children

Yom Kippur with young children can be a challenge. Here are some tips for making the holiday meaningful for them and for you.

Why Do We Read Jonah On Yom Kippur?

Why Do We Read Jonah On Yom Kippur?

With lessons on failure, the value of admitting our mistakes, and allowing ourselves and others to apologize, the Book of Jonah has much to teach us.

Tashlikh: A Quick Overview

Tashlikh: A Quick Overview

One of the beautiful customs associated with Rosh Hashanah is Tashlikh, a brief service that takes place by a body of water.

Are There Only Ten Days of Repentance Each Year?

Are There Only Ten Days of Repentance Each Year?

Teshuvah in the 10 days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are sacred days, but what about the days before and beyond those?

5 Myths about T’shuvah

5 Myths about T’shuvah

Five myths that we tell ourselves about t’shuvah that keep us from doing it skillfully or doing it at all.

What is Tashlich?

What is Tashlich?

What is Tashlich? How do you do it, what is its history, what are the environmental concerns and, of course, why I love Tashlich.

Dress to Impress Yourself…Into the Book of Life

Dress to Impress Yourself…Into the Book of Life

Sara Beth Berman teaches us: Everything you need to know about clothing the body that holds your precious soul for the High Holidays.

What to Read to Prepare for the High Holidays this Year

What to Read to Prepare for the High Holidays this Year

Rabbi Mordechai Rackover recommends these reads to help you prepare for the themes, liturgy, and spirit of the High Holidays.

Rosh Hashanah Musaf Service

Rosh Hashanah Musaf Service

The Musaf Service for Rosh Hashanah contains familiar opening and closing blessings of the Amidah with the usual High Holiday interpolations.

The Shofar on Rosh Hashanah

The Shofar on Rosh Hashanah

Sounding of the shofar is a characteristic mitzvah of Rosh Hashanah. The holiday is alternatively called the Day of Sounding the Shofar. 

Rosh Hashanah Torah Reading

Rosh Hashanah Torah Reading

Rosh Hashanah Torah reading includes Abraham, Sarah, and the Binding of Isaac. Haftarot tell the story of Samuel and other relevant themes.

Rosh Hashanah Synagogue Services

Rosh Hashanah Synagogue Services

For most people, Rosh Hashanah means a lot of time spent praying in the synagogue. These are the complex explanations behind those prayers.

Could The Terminator Do Teshuvah?

Could The Terminator Do Teshuvah?

Rabbi Dan Ornstein teaches us: human freedom is ineradicable and that our dignity is predicated upon our moral responsibility.

My Bangin’ Rosh Hashanah Seder

My Bangin’ Rosh Hashanah Seder

Emily Jaeger explains to us: What is the Rosh Hashanah seder, how do we perform it, and why you might consider doing one too.

Being Called by God

Being Called by God

When we say hineni to ourselves and our lives have a spiritual center, our existence will be more meaningful, and we’ll live a more purposeful life.

Rosh Hashanah At Home

Rosh Hashanah At Home

Personal and at-home Rosh Hashanah rituals include candle lighting, eating apples with honey, and sharing meals.

Candle Lighting for Rosh Hashanah

Candle Lighting for Rosh Hashanah

When and how to do Rosh Hashanah Candle Lighting. We usher in Rosh Hashanah by lighting candles, just as we do on Shabbat.

Why Do We Ask for Forgiveness in Elul?

Why Do We Ask for Forgiveness in Elul?

Asking for forgiveness not only cultivates empathy and humility, but it provides an opportunity for renewal.

The Days Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

The Days Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the Ten Days of Repentance and include the Fast of Gedaliah.

Elul’s Shofar: A Poem

Elul’s Shofar: A Poem

Elul’s shofar blasts daily remind us of all we need to do to prepare spiritually for the upcoming holidays and the start of the new year.

How do I observe Selichot?

How do I observe Selichot?

It is said that Selichot opens the gates of heaven for the High Holy Days. This Selichot, do what opens your heart to the gates of heaven.

The Challenge of Faith

The Challenge of Faith

In faith: What matters in such things is the attitude of the one who is asking the question. What matters is an orientation of faithfulness.

Customs before Rosh Hashanah

Customs before Rosh Hashanah

There are customs in order to prepare for Rosh Hashanah, including Selichot, physical changes in the synagogue, and immersing in the mikveh.

Living With No Regrets

While introspection is healthy, too much regret can discourage us from embracing our unchangeable past and our openness to future choices.

(Not) Announcing Rosh Hashanah

(Not) Announcing Rosh Hashanah

On Rosh Hashanah, we do not recite the traditional blessings announcing a new month for a variety of different reasons.

What are selichot?

What are Selichot?

Selichot are special prayers recited in anticipation of the High Holidays introducing us to the themes of the upcoming holidays.

When is the Jewish New Year?

When is the Jewish New Year?

There are four New Years, each with its own purpose. That said, the counting of the new year begins with Rosh Hashanah, in the seventh month.

Non-Ritual Ways of Preparing in Elul

Non-Ritual Ways of Preparing in Elul

There are many ways to spiritually prepare in Elul for the Yamim Nora’im, the Days of Awe, also known as the High Holidays.

Rituals and Prayers Recited in the Month of Elul

Rituals and Prayers Recited in Elul

The ritual preparations for the High Holidays begin a full month in advance with the onset of the month of Elul.

Seliḥot: What do we recite?

Seliḥot: What do we recite?

Seliḥot, a series of penitential prayers, are recited in anticipation of Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Repentance. Here’s what to recite.

What If I Can’t (or Don’t Want to) Fast on Tisha B’Av?

Rabbi Ilana Garber offers us her nine ways to make the 9th day of Av meaningful that do not involve fasting.

Luaḥ for Tish’ah Be’av

Luaḥ information for the observance of erev Tish’ah Be’av and the following day generously provided by Rabbi Miles Cohen.

Tisha B’Av and Our Present-Day Fight Against Hate

Tisha B’Av and Our Present-Day Fight Against Hate

Why is this time, surrounding Tisha B’Av, so important to the modern-day fight against antisemitism, and other forms of hatred and bigotry?

What is Rosh Hodesh and How is it Observed?

What is Rosh Hodesh and How is it Observed?

Rosh Hodesh, the first day of every lunar month, is primarily observed through additional prayers and a special Torah reading,

What are the Jewish Fast Days? What do we do?

What are the Jewish Fast Days? What do we do?

There are three kinds of fasts in Judaism rooted in history and spiritual practice with changes to prayer services.

What is Tishah Be’av and how is it observed?

What is Tishah Be’av and how is it observed?

Tishah Be’av is the saddest day of the Jewish year. We fast, read the Book of Lamentations, and reflect on history.

Juneteenth 5782: Kiddush Over Red Drink

Juneteenth 5782: Kiddush Over Red Drink

Gulienne Rollins-Rishon reflects on Juneteenth which commemorates the complete ending of legal slavery in the United States.

Shabbat Morning Services: What to Expect

Shabbat Morning Services: What to Expect

We thank God, spend time in community, sing heartily, read holy texts, and revel in rest. What can I expect at a Shabbat morning service?

What do I do on a long Shabbat Afternoon?

What do I do on a long Shabbat Afternoon?

Long Shabbat afternoons can be intimidating, here’s how Rabbi Sydni Rubinstein spends her time and why it’s her favorite time all week.

Friday Night Kiddush: The Deeper Meaning

Friday Night Kiddush: The Deeper Meaning

Rabbi Dina Shargel teaches that the Friday night Kiddush sets a mood to welcome Shabbat by connecting it to Creation and to the Exodus.

What are the Shavuot Torah Readings About?

Rabbi Mitch Berkowitz explains the meaning of the Torah passages that we read on Shavuot and the connection to revelation and the harvest.

10 Reasons Shavuot Might Be Your New Favorite Holiday

10 Reasons Shavuot Might Be Your New Favorite Holiday

Rabbi Tova Leibovic-Douglas offers us 10 great reasons why Shavuot might be your new favorite Jewish holiday.

Malchut/Nobility Intention: Omer Week 7

Rabbi Meir Goldstein offers a nobility (Malchut) intention for the seventh week of the counting of the omer.

Shavuot: Z’man Matan Torateinu

Ariel Barry discusses Shavuot and receiving the Torah from Sinai. What does it mean to be “MiSinai”, from Sinai and how can we relate today?

Memorial Day 2022

This Memorial Day, in the wake of the Uvalde shooting, let us stop and reflect on the violence that has become a part of our daily lives.

Yesod/Foundation Intention: Omer Week 6

Rabbi Meir Goldstein offers a foundation (Yesod) intention for the sixth week of the counting of the omer.

Hod/Humility Intention: Omer Week 5

Rabbi Meir Goldstein offers a humility (Hod) intention for the fifth week of the counting of the omer.

How to See and Be Seen: Choosing Judaism

How to See and Be Seen: Choosing Judaism

Shavuot is the holiday of choosing Judaism. We choose to see the beauty of the tradition and be seen holding it with full hearts and hands.

Learning about Mental Illness from Ruth

Learning about Mental Illness from Ruth

Risa Sugarman teaches that comparing Ruth’s strengths to owning our own positive attributes as primary instead of our mental illness.

image of mount sinai at sunset with the words: Questions of Revelation: A Poem

Questions of Revelation: A Poem

Rabbi Suzanne Brody shares her poem that embraces a variety of midrashim about what happened at Sinai when we received the Torah.

Image of a do-not-enter sign with the words The Shabbat Prohibitions

The Shabbat Prohibitions

Shabbat comes with specific limitations. These Shabbat prohibitions help us create a separation from the rest of the week.

darkened image of a sunset with the words The Shabbat Afternoon Service

The Shabbat Afternoon Service

The Minhah Service on Saturday Shabbat afternoon contains a number of significant additions to the weekday Afternoon Service.

Image of a Torah scroll with the words The Saturday Morning Shabbat Service

The Saturday Morning Shabbat Service

How is the Saturday morning Shabbat service constructed? What prayers are included? Check out our overview on Shabbat morning services.

Blurry image of candlesticks, challah, and a kiddush cup with the words: Friday Night Shabbat at Home

Friday Night Shabbat at Home

Friday night Shabbat at home includes blessings over children, the song Shalom Aleichem, kiddush, and the blessing over bread, the motzi.

Blurry image of a havdalah set with a hand reflecting off of the candle with the words: Super Simple Guide: How to do Havdalah

Super Simple Guide: How to Do Havdalah

This is a super simple guide on how to do the ritual of Havdalah including the blessings in Hebrew, English, and Transliteration.

Blurry image of a bonfire and the words: Lag Ba-omer and Pesah Sheini

Lag Ba-omer and Pesah Sheini

Lag Ba-Omer, the 33rd day of the omer, and Pesah Sheini, are two commemorative moments during the Counting of the Omer.

Mountain with fog and the words: Revelation: A Poem

Revelation: A Poem

Yakira Keshet offers a poem to commemorate Shavuot, her journey to Judaism, and the presence of our souls at Mount Sinai.

Image of the legs of runnings with the words: Netzach/Endurance Intention: Omer Week 4

Netzach/Endurance Intention: Omer Week 4

Rabbi Meir Goldstein offers an endurance (netzach) intention for the fourth week of the counting of the omer.

blurry image of a concert with orange lights with the words: Omer Mixtape Netzach week 4

Omer Mixtape: Netzach Week 4

Rabbi Jenna Stein Turow counts the omer and explores the inner self by connecting divine elements to songs that hold special meaning.

image of stones at the beach with a stack of stones on the right with the words: Tiferet/Harmony Intention: Omer Week 3

Tiferet/Harmony Intention: Omer Week 3

Rabbi Meir Goldstein offers a harmony (tiferet) intention for the third week of the counting of the omer.

blurry image of a concert with yellow lights with the words: Omer Mixtape Tiferet Week 3

Omer Mixtape: Tiferet Week 3

Rabbi Jenna Stein Turow counts the omer and explores the inner self by connecting divine elements to songs that hold special meaning.

Blurry image of a concert with blue lights and the words:Omer Mixtape 2022.

Omer Mixtape 2022

Rabbi Jenna Stein Turow counts the omer and explores the inner self by connecting divine elements to songs that hold special meaning.

blurry image of a backyard at night with the words Havdalah Solo: My (Slightly Awkward) Spiritual Self-Care

Havdalah Solo: My (Slightly Awkward) Spiritual Self-Care

My Havdalah candle, wine, spices, and I did my own Havdalah ceremony all alone in my backyard. It was my own form of spiritual self-care.