Holiday celebrations are an integral part of Har Sinai Temple. Holidays provide an opportunity for members to pray, learn, and celebrate as a community. See the holidays below to learn the meaning, traditions, and how to participate at Har Sinai Temple.
Literally translated as “Head of the Year,” Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year celebration initiating the High Holy Days. The theme of our services is “renewal” as we begin what we pray will be a year filled with blessing and sweetness. We observe Rosh Hashanah on the 1st day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. Our community joins for services on the eve of the holiday and the next morning, when we hear the blowing of the Shofar, which heralds in the New Year.
Temple clergy, staff and lay leadership have been working to create our High Holy Days experiences amid quickly evolving news regarding the pandemic. We are excited to announce that we will provide a multi-access path, with in-person and online opportunities to pray and to be together. More details on service times, admission process, and holiday learning will be available in the coming weeks. We look forward to sharing the journey together!
Known as the “Day of Atonement,” Yom Kippur is considered by most Jews to be the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. We begin our services in the evening with the chanting of the Kol Nidre, the “annulment of vows.” The next 24 hours is a time for prayer, fasting and repentance. In the afternoon, Rabbi Goldson conducts a study session on the theme of the holiday, and there is a Yizkor Memorial Service. At the end of the day, after the Shofar is sounded, those present will break the fast together.
It is customary to remember deceased relatives at this time of year, and many choose to honor their loved ones with a gift to Temple in their memories. Temple offers an opportunity to submit the names of those loved ones you will be remembering during Yom Kippur Yizkor. These names will be printed in our annual Memorial Book which is handed out at the Yizkor service.
The holiday of Sukkot (literally, “booths”) begins five days after Yom Kippur. It is one of the three pilgrimage festivals, along with Passover and Shavuot, that were originally agricultural celebrations. Also known as the Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot marks the fall harvest, a time when we express thanks to God for our blessings by spending time and eating outdoors in the Sukkah. Its significance, however, goes beyond being a holiday of thanksgiving for the harvest. In the Amidah, Sukkot is described as “the time of our rejoicing.” The special significance and joy of Sukkot cannot be removed from the fact that it falls on the heels of the 10-day period of introspection and repentance beginning with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur, to which it brings a sense of completion and spiritual gratification.
Named for the 15th day of the month of Shevat, the festival of Tu BiSh’vat is known as the New Year of the Trees. Although it’s hard to believe when you live in the United States, this time of year is the beginning of spring in the Middle East. It’s traditional to eat fruits from Israel during Tu BiSh’vat, such as figs, dates, grapes, olives and pomegranates. It’s also traditional to eat fruits you haven’t tasted in a long time (or ever) and to say the Shehechyanu (a prayer for experiencing something new). In the U.S., Tu BiSh’vat is seen as a time to celebrate nature and affirm our relationship to the earth. At Har Sinai Temple, we mark this holiday with activities and seders that have a special focus on fruits and greens of the holiday.
Jews all over the world celebrate this major spring festival, also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Traditionally, a Seder is held at home on one or both of the first two nights. Har Sinai Temple holds a Community Passover Seder each year on the second night of Passover. The seder is open to non-Temple members – reservations are required.
Simchat Torah is the celebration when Jews read the concluding section of the Book of Deuteronomy (the 5th book of the Torah) and start with Genesis once again. We take the Torahs out of the ark and dance joyously prior to the reading. During this service, we also celebrate “Consecration” by blessing our youngest children who are beginning their study of Torah in our Religious School.
The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication” and refers to the joyous eight-day celebration through which Jews commemorate the victory of the Macabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and “rededication” of the Temple in Jerusalem. We light candles at home each night during the holiday, play dreidel, and eat foods fried in oil like potato latkes and sufganyot (jelly doughnuts). At Har Sinai Temple, we have Chanukah parties for our children in the Religious School as well as for the adults.
Candle Lighting How-To
We suggest the following ritual
- Light the Shamash
- Sing or say the traditional blessing
- After the first and second blessings, use the Shamash to light the candles from left to right
(If it’s the first night or your first time lighting this Hanukkah, recite the third blessing—She’hecheyanu.)
- Sing Hanukkah songs, play dreidel and enjoy the lights of Hanukkah!
Some of Our Favorite Chanukah Songs
(Scroll/click right to explore)
The Talmud teaches: “When Adar arrives, our joy increases.” And rightfully so. For the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar marks the holiday of Purim, the paradigm of Jewish deliverance from cruel tyranny. We read the story of Purim in the Book of Esther, also referred to as “the Megillah.” At Har Sinai Temple, we have a special service at which we read the Megillah and sound our graggers (noise makers) to blot out the name of the evil Haman. Come make a “L’chayim” and enjoy our Purim Spiel, while you nosh on some delicious hamentaschen.
This is the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. In addition to studying Torah on Shavuot (we read the Ten Commandments in the synagogue), it is customary to eat dairy dishes such as cheesecake and blintzes. These foods symbolize the sweetness of Torah.