Tag Archives: Jewish holidays

Shavuot: Festival of Weeks

Image from our Hebrew Illuminations 2016 wall calendar featuring artwork by Adam Rhine. Click image for more info.

Image from our Hebrew Illuminations 2016 wall calendar featuring artwork by Adam Rhine. Click image for more info.

This Jewish holiday celebrated fifty days after Passover (and thus the Jewish equivalent of Beltane) is also known as the Festival of Weeks, the Festival of Revelation, and the Festival of Harvest. This year it will begin at sunset on the evening of June 11.

In ancient times, two kinds of offerings were made at the Temple: two loaves of bread made from the first harvest of wheat and seven kinds of first fruits: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. Later this date was identified as the day God gave the Jews the Torah. Weddings that have been delayed during the Counting of the Omer can be celebrated. Continue reading

Passover Seder

Hebrew Illuminations 2016 wall calendar

Image from our Hebrew Illuminations 2016 wall calendar featuring artwork by Adam Rhine. Click image for more info.

This year, the eight days of Passover begin at sunset on the evening of April 22. This holiday commemorates a historical event, the Exodus, the freedom of the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt.

Before the holiday begins, houses are thoroughly cleaned, as with many New Year festivals. All traces of leaven (alcohol, bread, grain, cereal, cornstarch) are removed. A palm branch or feather is often used to brush the last crumbs out of the door, with the following words: “All leaven I have not seen or removed or that I don’t know about is hereby null and void and ownerless as the dust of the earth.” Continue reading

Rosh Hashanah

Hebrew Illuminations 2016 wall calendar

Image from the Hebrew Illuminations 2016 wall calendar featuring artwork by Adam Rhine. Click image to see more.

I love that there are so many New Years in the year and especially when the New Year lines up with what feels like a new beginning for me: the autumn season and the start of the school year. In the Jewish calendar, the New Year is called Rosh Hashanah and begins with the new moon of the seventh month, which usually falls in September. This year, Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown the evening of September 13. Continue reading

Tisha B’Av: A Day of Remembrance

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I Hold You In My Heart greeting card from our Renée Locks card series.

This Jewish holiday, which falls on the ninth of Av, will be celebrated in 2015 from the evening of Saturday, July 25, through the evening of Sunday, July 26. It is one of those holidays that seems to capture the oppressiveness of summer heat.

It was probably derived from a Babylonian festival, held on the ninth of Av, a day of dread and sorrow, the climax of a month-long celebration focused on torches and firewood. According to Arthur Waskow in Seasons of Our Joy, my favorite book on Jewish holiday customs, the Jews may have chosen this day with its emphasis on fire to commemorate the burning of the Temple. The holiday has come to be associated with other tragedies as well, for instance the massacre of Jews during the Crusades and the Holocaust. Continue reading

Hanukkah: A Festival of Lights

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Hebrew Illuminations 2015 wall calendar by Adam Rhine

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, like the stringing of Christmas lights on trees and houses and the lighting of the Advent candles, celebrates light during the darkest time of the year. The Jewish holiday calendar is a lunar calendar, which means that the theme of light and dark can play out in the timing of the moon as well as the sun. Hanukkah always begins on the 26th of Kislev, three days before the new moon closest to the full moon that is closest to the Winter Solstice—so, at the darkest time of the moon and at the darkest time of the sun. Continue reading