The rhythm of Jewish life is determined by its calendar. Jewish existence is given structure and meaning by the passage of time. There are rituals, celebrations, and holidays that are observed on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Time itself assumes a sacred function in Judaism, as is echoed in the blessing; Who sanctifies Israel and the seasons. The first chapter of the Book of Genesis already imposes a weekly and daily structure on Jewish life. On the first day of creation, God creates the essential unit of time, the day. Seven days constitute a week, which culminates in Shabbat, the sacred day of rest.
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High Holidays: Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur
Yamim Nora’im literally means the “Days of Awe.” This refers to the High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and is marked by a ten-day period of time during which we engage in prayer, introspection, t’shuva, and fasting.
As soon after the conclusion of Yom Kippur as possible, often on the same evening, one is enjoined to begin building the sukkah, or hut, that is the central symbol of the holiday. The sukkah is a flimsy structure with at least three sides, whose roof is made out of thatch or branches, which provides some shade and protection from the sun, but also allows the stars to be seen at night. It is traditional to decorate the sukkah and to spend as much time in it as possible. We encourage CBJ members to invite their friends and neighbors for a holiday meal in their sukkah.
Shemini Atzeret & Simchat Torah
Simchat Torah is a joyous festival when we “rejoice in the Torah.” We celebrate the completion of our annual cycle of Torah reading by removing all of the scrolls from the ark and singing and dancing as they are carried throughout the congregation.
Join us for Rabbi Ezray’s annual “Tour of the Torah,” your chance to view the entire Torah scroll unrolled. See the Ten Commandments, the Song of the Sea, your own Bar/Bat Mitzvah portion, and more!
During the Torah service, we read the last section of the Book of Deuteronomy and the beginning of the Book of Genesis as we start the annual cycle of Torah reading once again. This is our affirmation of our commitment to celebrate and learn Torah.
Chanukah, or the Festival of Rededication, celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its defilement by the Syrian Greeks in 164 BCE. Although it is a late addition to the Jewish liturgical calendar, the eight-day festival of Chanukah has become a beloved and joyous holiday. It is also known as the Festival of Lights. Join us each year for our Chanukah Festival, usually held two weeks before the holiday.
Purim, or the Feast of Lots, is a joyous holiday that recounts the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre during the Persian period (539-330 BCE). The story of Purim is recounted in the Book of Esther, whose eponymous heroine plays the leading role in saving her people. The holiday is traditionally celebrated with wild abandon and with the giving of gifts to friends and the poor. Our annual CBJ Purim carnival is filled with games, activities and tasty treats.
Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is one of the three major pilgrimage festivals of ancient Israel. Originally a combination of a couple of different spring festivals, it is a commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt–especially the night when God “passed over” the houses of the Israelites during the tenth plague–and of the following day, when the Israelites had to leave Egypt hurriedly. Centered on the family or communal celebration of the seder (ritual meal), Passover is one of the most beloved of all Jewish holidays.
If you need a place at a seder table, or if you have an extra place at your table, please let the CBJ office or one of the clergy know and we will help connect people.
Yom HaShoa, Yom Hazikaron, Yom Ha'atzma'ut, Yom Yerushalayim
Yom Hazikaron: Israel’s Memorial Day
This day honoring those who fell in Israel’s wars falls just before Israel Independence Day.
Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Memorial Day
A day honoring Holocaust survivors and remembering those who perished.
Yom Yerushalayim: Jerusalem Day
Jerusalem has been considered the capital city of the Jewish people since the time of King David, but the special day in honor of the city was established after the Israeli army’s victory in the Six-Day War in June 1967.
Yom Ha-atzmaut, the “day of independence”, is the Jewish holiday celebrating Israel’s attainment of statehood. Israel’s Independence Day commemorates its establishment once again as the homeland of the Jewish people.
Lag Ba Omer
Lag Ba Omer is a minor Jewish holiday that focuses on the importance of study and learning. Lag Ba Omer is celebrated on the 33rd day of the 50 days of the counting of the “omer”, or the measure of the newly ripened barley. The Lag Ba Omer holiday provided a break from this serious harvest time.