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cHANUKAH

The festival of lights celebrates the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem in the Second Century B.C.E. following the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks).  We light the hannukiah, an 8-branched menorah commemorating the miracle that a small flask of oil burned for eight days at the rededication until fresh oil could be sanctified, and enjoy foods fried in oil, especially latkes (potato pancakes), and sufganiyot (jelly donuts).

 


 

worship details:

Throughout the holiday, a brief prayer called Al Hanisim (“on miracles”), which details the story of Hanukkah, is added to the silent Amidah and its repetition as well as grace after meals.

 

service times 5783:

Service times and daily minyan are not affected during Hanukkah.

Purim

The celebratory memory of the triumph of Mordechai, Esther and the Jews against the conspiracy of Hamam in the Persian royal court in the Fourth Century B.C.E. includes dressing in costume, giving of gifts of food, reading of the Book of Esther, eating of tri-cornered hamantashen cakes, and general merriment.  The satirical Purim Shpiel play, near to the holiday in time, is a treasured Shearith Israel tradition. 

pesach (passover)

The best-known and most-widely celebrated of the Hebrew festivals, Pesach commemorates the Exodus from Egypt in approximately the 13th Century B.C.E. ending a long period of enslavement. We cleanse our homes of chametz (leavened grain products) in anticipation of the 8-day holiday, and join family and friends in a festive meal of symbolic foods, during which the story of the Exodus is retold, it’s message of freedom explored, and favorite melodies are sung late into the night. Yizkor prayers for the departed are recited on the seventh day of the festival. 

SHAVUOT

A harvest festival in ancient Palestine, the two-day Shavuot holiday begins 49 omer days after the start of Pesach and is celebrated as the anniversary of the receiving of the Torah at Sinai with (for some: all-night) learning.  As the Israelites refrained from eating meat in the days prior to receiving the law, we favor dairy foods on Shavuot.  As if at Sinai, we stand in synagogue when the Aseret ha’Dibrot (Ten Statements or Commandments) are read aloud; Yizkor prayers are recited on the second day of the festival.

Sukkot & Simchat torah

The fragile huts that are the center of the Sukkot festival are our symbolic homes for seven days reminiscent of the years our ancestors spent wandering in the desert.  Exposed enough to the elements to remind us of our dependence on divine providence, we eat and perhaps sleep in a sukkah, and shake the arba minem (four species): lulav (palm), hadas (myrtle), arava (willow) and etrog (citron), symbolic of parts of our bodies, celebrating the good fortune of the fall harvest.

Reluctant to end the festival, we add an eighth day, Shemini Atzeret, that creates a break before returning to the work-a-day routine world.  Shemini Atzeret includes yizkor prayers for the departed and the geshem prayers for rain.  The day is followed by the conclusion and immediate beginning of the annual cycle of Torah reading on Simchat Torah, filled with song and dance and special honors for two congregants called to the last and first aliyot of the cycle, the Hatan (groom) or Kallah (bride) of the Torah and of Bereishit (Genesis).  

Mon, December 5 2022 11 Kislev 5783