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Jewish Guide

Jewish Guide to Holidays

This part of the Jewish Guide describes some of the holidays that are significant in Judaism, although there are over 20 (major and minor). All Jewish holidays begin before the date on most calendars. This is because according to Judaism, a day begins and ends at sunset, not at midnight.

Popular Jewish Holidays

  1. Passover. This holiday is celebrated for seven to eight days and commemorates the exodus from Egypt. A seder is performed for the first two nights of the holiday. It is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of Passover. Bread and grain products are avoided in remembrance of the ancestors that left Egypt. They left in such a hurry; they didnít have time to wait for their bread to rise.

    Strictly observant Jews do not work, go to school or engage in any type of business during the first or last day of the holiday.

  2. Rosh Hashanah This holiday is the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah lasts from one to two days. Itís a joyous, festive holiday in which many Jews attend synagogue and have jovial gatherings with relatives. Similar to the American New Year, most Jews look back at the previous year and make resolutions for the upcoming one.

    No work or school is permitted on Rosh Hashanah.

  3. Yom Kippur†Yom Kippur is the day of Atonement. Itís a day of fasting and repenting for the sins or mistakes that were made in the previous year. It usually falls in late September or early October.

    Most Jews take off from work or school on this day. Yom Kippur is the busiest day of the year for synagogues as this is the way most individuals observe this day.

    Strictly observant Jews do not work, go to school or engage in any type of business activity on this day.

  4. Chanukah†Chanukah or Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights in Judaism. The holiday lasts for eight days and eight nights and usually falls between late November to the middle of December.

    It commemorates the redirection of the Temple in Jerusalem after a successful victory against Greek armies in 165BCE. As part of the redirection, the victorious Jews needed to light the templeís menorah or candelabrum, but they only had enough oil to last one day and it would take eight days to prepare more oil. Incredibly, the one-day supply of the oil lasted for eight days. Thus, Chanukah is observed for eight days and nights celebrating the miracle of the oil.

    Unlike other holidays mentioned in the Jewish Guide, work, school and business activities are permitted during this Chanukah.

  5. Sukkoth†The Festival of Booths begins on the 5th day after Yom Kippur and lasts for seven. Unlike Yom Kippur, its very blissful. Jews build shelters in their yards and eat meals or even sleep in it. This commemorates the forty year Biblical period of wandering in the desert and building temporary shelters (called a Sukkoth).

  6. Shavuot This holiday marks the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai over 3,300 years ago. See History of the Jewish Guide. It usually occurs between Memorial Day and Independence Day. On this day, G-dís law, the commandments, are read in the synagogues, just as they were read on Mt. Sinai.