Category: Holidays

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

We usher in Rosh Hashanah with lighting candles, just as we do on Shabbat. On Rosh Hashanah we use a special festival blessing

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.

Blurry image of havdalah set with the words: Havdalah: An Overview

Havdalah: An Overview

Havdalah, the concluding ceremony for Shabbat, serves as a dramatic reminder of the beauty and emotional power of Judaism.

Home and Synagogue Shavuot Observances

Home and Synagogue Shavuot Observances

Candle-lighting, Torah readings, the Book of Ruth, and Yizkor are all a part of celebrating Shavuot at home and at synagogue.

Image of mountains with the words What is Shavuot about?

What is Shavuot about?

Like Sukkot and Passover, Shavuot is a multi-dimensional holiday, embracing profound historical, spiritual, and agricultural aspects.

Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikkaron, Yom Haatzma'ut, and Yom Yerushalayim

Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikkaron, Yom Haatzma’ut, and Yom Yerushalayim

What are the commemorative holidays of Yom HaShoah, Yom haZikkaron, Yom Haatzma’ut, and Yom Yerushalayim and what do we do on them?

blurry image of a concert with red and blue lights with the words: Omer Mixtape Gevurah Week 2

Omer Mixtape: Gevurah Week 2

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

Gevurah/Discipline Intention: Omer Week 2

Gevurah/Discipline Intention: Omer Week 2

Rabbi Meir Goldstein offers a discipline (gevurah) intention for the second week of the counting of the omer.

sunset image with the words: Friday Night Services at Synagogue: An Explainer

Friday Night Services at Synagogue: An Explainer

Friday night services on Shabbat include both Kabbalat Shabbat, a joyous recitation of psalms, and a Shabbat Maariv, the evening service.

blurry image of shabbat candle sticks and the words: Shabbat Candles and the Beginning of Shabbat

Shabbat Candles and the Beginning of Shabbat

Shabbat begins with the lighting of candles, in part, because they are symbolic of the spiritual light that Shabbat can bring into our lives.

blurry image of a shabbat table with the words: The 3 Categories of Shabbat Preparation

The 3 Categories of Shabbat Preparation

There are three major categories of Shabbat preparation that must be attended to: physical setting, food preparation, and personal grooming.

blurry image of a concert with Red lights with the words: Omer Mixtape Chesed Week 1

Omer Mixtape: Chesed Week 1

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

Super Simple Guide: How to Count the Omer

Super Simple Guide: How to Count the Omer

Counting the omer is an accessible mitzvah, commandment, that each of us can do. Here you will find the simple instructions on how to do it.

blurry image of two hands making a heart shape with the words: Chesed/Loving-Kindness Intention: Omer Week 1

Chesed/Loving-Kindness Intention: Omer Week 1

Rabbi Meir Goldstein offers a loving-kindness (chesed) intention for the first week of the counting of the omer.

blurry image of dishes and the words The Important Thing That Keeps our Family “Doing Jewish”

The Important Thing That Keeps our Family “Doing Jewish”

The most important thing to teach the next generation is how to make a seder, including what comes before the festival candles are even lit.

Blurry image of a calendar on the right with the words to the left that read: What is Counting the Omer

What is Counting the Omer

Counting the omer reflects the agricultural dimension of Passover and Shavuot and this is how we observe sefirat haomer today.

Blurry image of an open ark with four Torahs and the words: The Concluding Days of Passover

The Concluding Days of Passover

What do we do in synagogue on Passover? What Torah readings and haftarot do we read? We outline that for you here.

Blurry image of a Torah scroll and the words Passover Torah Readings: An Explainer

Passover Torah Readings: An Explainer

Though Pesach is thought of as the quintessential home-based holiday, the Torah is read on each of the mornings of Pesach in the synagogue.

Blurry image of an open ark with four Torahs and the words: Passover in the Synagogue

Passover in the Synagogue

What do we do in synagogue on Passover? What Torah readings and haftarot do we read? We outline that for you here.

blurry image of someone cleaning a table with the words When the COVID Plague Threatens Your Seder (Again)

When the COVID Plague Threatens Your Seder (Again)

Here are 10 tips on how to make Pesah meaningful and kosher (enough) even when the plague of COVID continues to threaten our celebrations.

blurry image of a table with the words The Four Children and Racial Justice

The Four Children and Racial Justice

We approach the Haggadah at a time of profound racial reckoning in our country. How might the four children help us relate to racial justice?

Blurry image of a firepit and the words Biur and S’mores: Have Fun As You Get Rid of Hametz

Biur and S’mores: Have Fun As You Get Rid of Hametz

There is lots to do to get ready for Passover. We may ask, where am I going to have Seder? How long or short will …

Blurry image of countryside with the words Mah Nishtanah: How Is This Moment Different?

Mah Nishtanah: How Is This Moment Different?

Mah Nishtanah: How is This Moment Different by Rabbi Rachel Ain is a reflection on her recent trip to Ukraine in 2022.

blurry image of a book with the words The Sunflower on Our Seder Table

The Sunflower on Our Seder Table

The Sunflower on Our Seder Table by Rabbi Ilana Garber on behalf of the people in Ukraine in 2022.

blurry image of a book with the words All Who Are Hungry: A Prayer for Action, A Prayer for Ukraine

All Who Are Hungry: A Prayer for Action, A Prayer for Ukraine

All Who Are Hungry: A Prayer for Action, A Prayer for Ukraine by Rabbi Mark Greenspan on behalf of the people in Ukraine in 2022.

blurry image of a set table How to Make a Seder for Everyone

How to Make a Seder for Everyone

The key to hosting a successful seder for everyone is to articulate a bold purpose in gathering and map the journey.

blurry image of a book with the words Dedication for First Cup of Wine

Dedication for First Cup of Wine

Dedication for the First Cup of Wine at the Passover Seder by Rabbi Martin S. Cohen on behalf of the people in Ukraine in 2022.

close up image of gas stove with the words Leveraging Anger for Change this Passover

Leveraging Anger for Change this Passover

While anger and frustration can lead to stress and dissatisfaction, mindful approaches to our anger can move our lives out of complacency.