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Holidays

The following Jewish Holidays are observed at Beth Tikvah Congregation. Please see below for an explanation of the Holidays as explained on the URJ Website, a description of holiday observance at Beth Tikvah Congregation (BTC), and please check our calendar for all upcoming holiday dates.

Fall

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High Holy Days

See our High Holy Days page for information.

Sukkot

Sukkot, a Hebrew word meaning "booths" or "huts," refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest. It also commemorates the 40-years of Jewish wandering in the desert after the giving of the Torah atop Mt. Sinai. Sukkot is celebrated five days after Yom Kippur, on the 15th of Tishrei, and is marked by several distinct traditions. One tradition - which takes the commandment to dwell in booths literally - is to erect a sukkah: a small, temporary booth or hut. Sukkot (in this case, the plural of sukkah) are commonly used during the seven-day festival for eating, entertaining, and even for sleeping. Sukkot - also called Z’man Simchateinu (Season of Our Rejoicing) - is the only festival associated with an explicit commandment to rejoice. A final name for Sukkot is Chag HaAsif (Festival of the Ingathering), representing a time to give thanks for the bounty of the earth during the fall harvest.

At Beth Tikvah Congregation we celebrate Sukkot by building and decorating a beautiful sukkah, and by inviting guests to eat, drink, and enjoy one another’s company in the beautiful space. The Men’s Club organizes the construction of the sukkah, while the ECC and Religious School students decorate it. We also hold a joyous family-friendly Sukkot Service on the evening of the first night of Sukkot, complete with the waving of the lulav and etrog. On occasion, we also hold a congregational camp-out, during the week of Sukkot.

Sukkot Description and Resources

Simchat Torah & Sh'mini Atzeret

Immediately following Sukkot, we celebrate Sh'mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, a fun-filled time during which we celebrate the completion of the annual reading of the Torah, and affirm Torah as one of the pillars on which we build our lives. As part of the celebration, the Torah scrolls are taken from the ark, and carried or danced around the synagogue seven times. During the Torah service, the concluding section of the fifth book of the Torah, D’varim (Deuteronomy), is read, and immediately following, the opening section of Genesis (or B'reishit as it is called in Hebrew) is read. This practice represents the cyclical nature of the relationship between the Jewish people and the reading of the Torah.

Jewish Holidays Simchat Torah At Beth Tikvah Congregation, we celebrate Simchat Torah with all the joy and energy we can muster! Our Simchat Torah evening service features upbeat, joyous music provided by a band consisting of our musical and talented members. We dance through the aisles carrying the Torah, and at the end of the night each service participant takes hold of a section of parchment as the Torah is unrolled and the last and first sections of the Torah are chanted; signifying the never ending cycle of Torah readings.

Simchat Torah and Sh’mini Atzeret Description and Resources

Winter

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Hanukkah

Hanukkah MenorahsHanukkah (alternately spelled Chanukah) - meaning "dedication" in Hebrew - refers to the joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and "rededication" of the Temple in Jerusalem. The modern home celebration of Hanukkah centers around the lighting of the chanukiyah (a special menorah for Hanukkah); foods prepared in oil including latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts); and special songs and games.

Hanukkah Description and Resources

At Beth Tikvah Congregation we celebrate Chanukah in many ways. One of our most exciting events of the year is our annual Lights & Miracles celebration, which includes a congregational Chanukah dinner and a special Shabbat service filled with music and stories, choral presentations, and the light of many, many menorahs brought from home by service participants and placed on tables in the center of the sanctuary. Also there is a special Chanukah Bazaar, and we often bring our Kolan Children’s Choir and Kol Shirah Teen Song Leaders to perform in public places in the area.

Tu BiSh'vat

tu b shevatTu BiShvat - the "New Year of the Trees" - is Jewish Arbor Day. The holiday is observed on the 15th (tu) of the Hebrew month of Sh'vat. Scholars believe that originally Tu BiShvat was an agricultural festival, marking the emergence of spring. In the 17th century, Kabbalists created a ritual for Tu BiShvat that is similar to a Passover seder. Today, many Jews hold a modern version of the Tu BiShvat seder each year. The holiday has also become a tree-planting festival in Israel, in which Israelis and Jews around the world plant trees in honor or in memory of loved ones and friends.

At Beth Tikvah Congregation, Tu Bish’vat is often celebrated in Religious School classrooms as children sing songs about trees, talk about Judaism and the environment, and enjoy snacks of fruits derived from trees.

Tu Bish’vat Description and Resources

Spring

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Purim

Purim is celebrated with a public reading—usually in the synagogue—of the Book of Esther (Megillah Esther), which tells the story of the holiday. Under the rule of King Ahashverosh Haman - the king's prime minister - plots to exterminate all of the Jews of Persia. His plan is foiled by Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai, who ultimately save the Jews of Persia from destruction. The reading of the megillah typically is a rowdy affair, punctuated by booing and noise-making when Haman's name is read aloud.

Purim is an unusual holiday in many respects. First, Esther is the only biblical book in which God is not mentioned. Second, Purim (like Hanukkah) traditionally is viewed as a minor festival, but has been elevated to a major holiday as a result of the Jewish historical experience. Over the centuries, Haman became the embodiment of every anti-Semite in every land where Jews were oppressed. The significance of Purim lies not so much in how it began, but in what it has become: a thankful and joyous affirmation of Jewish survival against all odds.

Purim Description and Resources

Purim Spiel 2At Beth Tikvah Congregation, Purim is the joyous holiday that we look most forward to each year! Really? Is this true of everyone or only whoever wrote this? I would change it please to:  Purim is a joyous holiday that we really look forward to each year! Kids and adults dress-up in costumes, and together we celebrate by holding a Purim Service, reading the megillah, singing Purim songs and, of course, by hosting a Purim Spiel - a creative retelling of the Purim story, often in the form of a short play or musical, led by our Purim Chorale volunteers and Kolan Children’s Choir. Following our Purim Service and Spiel, we host an annual Purim Carnival for children and parents, including games, activities, and food!

Passover

Pesach - known as Passover in English - is a major Jewish spring festival, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt over 3,000 years ago. The ritual observance of this holiday centers around a special home service called the seder (meaning "order") and a festive meal; the prohibition of chametz (leaven); and the eating of matzah (an unleavened bread). On the fifteenth day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, Jews gather with family and friends in the evening to read from a book called the Hagaddah, meaning "telling," which contains the order of prayers, rituals, readings, and songs for the Passover seder. Today, the holiday is a celebration of freedom and family.

Passover 2014 2At Beth Tikvah Congregation we celebrate Passover by holding a Congregational Seder - usually on the second night of Passover, except if the first night of Passover falls on Friday night. Our Passover Seders, which are hugely popular, are sold-out every year, with over one hundred participants of all ages. The Seders are made special by enjoying an evening of delicious food, lively music with Cantorial Leader Ilana Axel, meaningful and fun readings, silly skits, bad jokes told by our Rabbi Tachman, and of course, the great companionship of the community. Please see our spring calendar for the date.

Passover Description and Resources

Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day

Yom Hashoah candleYom HaShoah - also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day - occurs on the 27th of Nisan. Shoah, which means catastrophe or utter destruction in Hebrew, refers to the atrocities that were committed against the Jewish people and others during World War II. This is a memorial day for those who died in the Shoah. The Shoah is also known as the Holocaust, from a Greek word meaning "sacrifice by fire."

At Beth Tikvah Congregation we commemorate the Holocaust through a service filled with moving prayers, readings, and music. Often at this service we invite a guest speaker to discuss one aspect of the Holocaust, and to teach people of all ages, not only to never forget, but to never let anything like this again happen to anyone.

Yom HaShoah Description and Resources

Yom HaZikaron & Yom HaAtzmaut

Israeli Memorial Day & Independence Day

Since the establishment of the State of Israel, four new holidays have been added to the Jewish calendar - Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day), Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day), and Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day). In Israel, these holidays are observed as national holidays. The Israeli Knesset established the day before Yom HaAtzmaut as Yom HaZikaron, a Memorial Day for soldiers who lost their lives fighting in the War of Independence and in other subsequent battles. Yom HaAtzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, marks the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. It is observed on or near the 5th of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar, which usually falls in April.

lrg 746874 IMG 2043At Beth Tikvah Congregation, the week on which Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut fall, these holidays (and Israel in general) become the focus of the Sunday morning Religious School prayer gatherings and Shabbat worship or Torah study.

Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut Description and Resources

Summer

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Shavuot

Shavuot is the Hebrew word for “weeks,” and refers to the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, which occurs seven weeks after Passover. Shavuot, like many other Jewish holidays, began as an ancient agricultural festival that marked the end of the spring barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. In ancient times, Shavuot was a pilgrimage festival during which Israelites brought crop offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem. Today, it is a celebration of Torah, education, and actively choosing to participate in Jewish life.

At Beth Tikvah Congregation we celebrate Shavuot with an evening study session (often with pizza dinner), Yizkor prayers remembering and honoring our loved ones who have died, a short worship service, and the partaking of dairy desserts. 

Shavuot Description and Resources

Wed, October 23 2019 24 Tishrei 5780