The holidays are our opportunity, as Jews, to mark time and to infuse our lives with the potential of holiness and meaning.
Purim reminds us of the capriciousness of life, the recognition of the reality that no matter how hard we work to control our lives, no matter how diligently we plan and prepare, life is unpredictable. There is more chaos than order in this world. Amazingly, Judaism tells us to respond to this terrifying reality simultaneously with revelry and with a renewed commitment to social change. We can’t control history, but we must control how we treat humanity.
The start of the new year brings our annual chance to step out of our daily routines and try to recapture a sense of possibility. Happy birthday, world.
Shavuot calls us to celebrate receiving the Torah - the inspiring, challenging, beautiful text of the Jewish people - and we do so by staying up all (or some of the) night, diving into mind- and heart-opening learning.
Shmini Atzeret & Simhat Torah
This is the darkest day in the Jewish calendar, on which we remember many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, such as the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem. It is a day of fasting and sadness and we read the Book of Lamentations.
Coming out of the darkness of Tisha b’Av, the rabbis knew there was only one response: love. Tu b’Av, sometimes called Jewish Valentine’s Day, is a celebration of hope and possibility.
We celebrate the New Year of the Trees by rejoicing in the beauty of nature and expressing gratitude to God for the environment. We plant trees and eat new fruit and recommit to caring for and protecting the earth so that we can continue to enjoy its gifts.
Intensive self-relection – heshbon hanefesh -- is the name of the game on Yom Kippur and the High Holy Days overall. The centerpiece is teshuvah, the idea that change is possible within all living systems. That’s true for individuals, communities and entire societies. For 25 hours we abstain from food and drink, and we wear white and take an honest look inside to reflect on who we have become and who we could be.
A celebration of the formal establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
Holocaust Remembrance Day - which we mark with reflection, the recounting of survivor testimonies, and, in Israel, a two-minute siren that stops commerce and conversation across the State.
Israel’s Memorial Day, to honor its fallen soldiers.
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