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JEWISH HOLIDAYS

HIGH HOLY DAYS - As fall approaches, Jews throughout the world begin to prepare for a unique 10 day period of prayer, self-examination, fasting, and repentance.  It is time for the "Days of Awe", the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
 
Rosh HaShanah (literally, "Head of the Year") refers to the Jewish New Year celebration initiating the High Holy Days.  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.  After services, we enjoy a special "Rosh HaShanah Oneg" (reception) which is sponsored by the Women of Congregation B'nai Israel.  At services the next morning, we look forward to the blowing of the Shofar, which heralds in the New Year.
 
Yom Kippur, the "Day of Atonement," 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, there is a musical performance, and there is a Yizkor Memorial Service.  At the end of the day, after Shofar is sounded, we join together to break the fast.
 
 
SUKKOT - 5 days after Yom Kippur, on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, we celebrate Sukkot, "the feast of booths."  This holiday which is an expression of thanks to God for our blessings is celebrated by spending time and eating outdoors in the Sukkah.  Every year, we hold our Religious School Sukkot Picnic on the Sunday in Sukkot. 
 
SIMCHAT TORAH - This is the Hebrew for "Rejoicing in the Law."  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. 
 
CHANUKAH -  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 games such as "dreidel," and eat foods fried in oil such as potatoe latkes and sufganyot (doughnuts).  At CBI, we have Chanukah parties for our children in the Religious School as well as for the adults.
 
PURIM - 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 CBI, we have a special service at which we read the Megillah and sound our graggars (noise makers) in an effort to blot out the name of Haman.  Come make a "L'chayim" and enjoy our Purim Spiel, while you nosh on some delicious 'Hamentaschen.' 
 
PASSOVER - This is major spring festival that Jews all over the world celebrate: the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Congregation B'nai Israel holds a Community Passover Seder each year on the second night of Passover. The seder is open to non-Temple members. Reservations are required.
 
SHAVUOT - This is the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.  In addition to studying Torah on Shavot (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.  At services on Shavuot, we celebrate the Confirmation of our tenth graders who after many years of study in our Religious School are ready to confirm their membership in the Jewish people. 

 

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