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Travelujah_ / Jewish Holidays - Posts
I have often been asked if there is one book that will help Christians understand Judaism and the Jewish people. To Be A Jew: A Guide To Jewish Observance In Contemporary Life by Hayim H. Donin; Understanding Judaism: A Basic Guide To Jewish Faith, History And Practice by Mordechi Katz,; Understanding Judaism: The Basics of Deed and Creed and even The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism both authored by Rabbi Benjamin Blech, are all great books on understanding the Jewish religion. However, I believe the best work to date has always been the Jewish prayer book known as the Siddur.
Lex orandi, lex credendi - what we pray is what we believe. Comprised of a collection of biblical texts along with personal prayers of rabbis that have been adopted into the corporate body of Israel, the Siddur is a masterful tapestry of prayers that are grouped into categories of thanksgiving, praise and petition. Those prayers inform our lives from morning until night. Upon waking from the slumbers of sleep in the morning, we immediately acknowledge God's returning of the soul back to consciousness with, I thank You, living and eternal King for giving me back my soul in mercy. Great is Your faithfulness (Note: The English translation of the Siddur was taken from the Koren
In Esther 3:8, the anti-Semitic Haman, Grand Vizier of the Persian Empire, tells Persian King Ahasuerus that, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among all the peoples... in your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every people, neither do they keep the king's laws. Therefore, it does the king no profit to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed..."
Haman, one of history's most anti-Semitic villians, decreed that all Jewis in the Persian Empire be massacred, however, his plot was foiled by Esther, the Jewish Queen. Thus we have the holiday of Purim, which commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people.
This year Purim is celebrated year between sunset Saturday, 23 February, and sunset Sunday, 24 February, in most of Israel. In jerusalem as well as a few other cities, though Purim will be celebrated from sunset on Sunday, 24 February until sunset on Monday, 25 February.
The Fast of Esther
The Fast of Esther which begins on Thursday, 21 February, commemorates the fact that Esther along with the entire Persian Jewish community fasted (4:16) in advance of Queen Esther's appeal for King Ahasuerus not to implement Haman's genocidal plot. At that time, a queen was only to go to see the King after she'd been invited otherwise she could be put to death. The fast is usually the day before Purim, however, since Purim is on a
Hanukah is celebrated this year from sunset Wednesday, November 27, until sunset Thursday, December 5, 2013 The festival commemorates both the 164 BCE rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the ruling Seleucid (Syrian Greek) Kingdom, under Antiochus IV - and the re-establishment of religious freedom for the Jewish people after a period of harsh repression. The success of the popular revolt led by Judah Maccabee and his brothers has, ever since, symbolized the Jewish people's fight for, and achievement of, its liberty and freedom as a nation against overwhelming odds. Hanukah is not a legal holiday in Israel; offices, shops and public transportation operate as usual.
In 200 BCE, the Seleucid King, Antiochus III, conquered the Land of Israel and incorporated it into his kingdom. While neither he, nor his son and successor, Seleucus IV, forced their Hellenistic culture on the Jews, his second son, Antiochus IV, who acceded to the throne in 175 BCE, instituted - with the active acceptance and support of many Jews - a policy of forced Hellenization and enacted harsh policies against those Jews who refused to adopt Hellenistic culture. Under Antiochus IV, Jews were forced to eat pork, and Sabbath observance and circumcision were made punishable by death. In 167 BCE, the Temple was defiled and dedicated to the Greek god Zeus, and became the center of an idol-worshipping cult.
In 165 BCE, a popular revolt - led
One of the most significant feasts of Israel, Rosh Hashanah, will begin at sundown, September 16, 2012 marking the beginning of the Jewish high holiday season - which will continue until October 8, 2012. What is the meaning of the several Jewish holidays that will be taking place this year during this period?
Preparing for the Jewish New Year -Repentence
The period preceding the Jewish New Year is marked by special penitential prayers, recited before the regular morning prayers, and the blowing of the ram's horn (shofar in Hebrew) after the morning prayer service. Jews of North African and Middle Eastern origin began to recite these special prayers on 20 August; Jews of European origin began to recite them on 8/9 September). These special prayers are said daily (except on the New Year holiday itself and the Sabbath) until the day before Yom Kippur (25 September).
Rosh Hashanah (the two-day Jewish new year), whose observance is mandated by Leviticus 23:23-25, will begin at sunset on Sunday, 16 September and conclude at nightfall on Tuesday, 18 September. Both days are marked by special prayers and scriptural readings.
The centerpiece of the Rosh Hashanah service is the blowing of the shofar during morning prayers. (The shofar is not sounded on the Sabbath should either of the two days fa
It is commonly believed today that the Jewish festival of Shavuot and the Christian holy day of Pentecost have little, if anything, to do with one another. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the two are actually the same holiday, albeit with varying traditions and an extended interpretation on the Christian side.
Even the name Pentecost (literally "the 50th [day]") is a reference to one of the key components of Shavuot - the counting of 50 days from Passover, known in the Jewish world as the "counting of the omer." Just as Shavuot occurs 50 days after Passover, Pentecost is marked exactly 50 days after Easter, and we have already written about Easter's close connection to Passover and the notion that Jesus and his disciples were most likely enjoying a Passover seder prior to his crucifixion.
The theme of Pentecost is also a kind of extension of the Shavuot theme, which is a celebration of the giving of the Torah (God's Word) to Moses on Mount Sinai. Christians believe that Jesus is the "
In the liturgical narrative of the Seder of Passover night, we are solemnly instructed that "in every generation each must regard himself as though personally coming out of Egypt." The exodus from Egypt, the Passover, is not a one- time event, but the beginning of a continuing process even until our day. The exodus event depends on a future event, that of entry into the land of the Covenant.
The scripture in Exodus signals four words indicative of Jewish Passover - I shall take out, I shall rescue, I shall redeem and I shall take you unto me. There is the fifth scriptural promise - I will bring you to the land - that signals the divine promise made to Abraham in the Covenant of Pieces. The first four expressions are remembered in continuing presence in consumption of the four cups of wine. The fifth cup called the Cup of Elijah represents the culmination of the exodus event insofar as it tells us of the point of it all - the entry into the land promised in the Covenants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Joshua's entry into the land was first, but not last entry. In the many exiles of Israel's history, which were Divine punishment for sin, the Covenant was never abrogated. The prophet Samuel reminds Israel's King Saul that God does not repent of His gifts - the eternity of Israel will not lie (1 Samuel 15:29). Therefore, the anticipation of returning to the land remained central to the collective Jewish consciousness and hope (hope i
More and more Christians are celebrating Passover and the other biblical feasts as they become increasingly aware of their own faith's Jewish background. And more and more of those Christians are choosing to celebrate Passover in the Holy Land.
Doing so is significant for two reasons. First, Passover is a pilgrimage feast. The children of Israel were instructed by God to travel to the "place that He will choose" (Jerusalem) during Passover (Deuteronomy 16). As spiritual descendants of Abraham and co-heirs in the blessings of Israel's covenants, many argue that it is just as incumbent upon Bible-believing Christians to partake in the pilgrimage feasts. In fact, when addressing the topic of another pilgrimage feast, Succot, the prophet Zechariah suggests that it will one day be mandatory for all believers to participate.
The second reason visiting Jerusalem during Passover is significant for Christians is the tie-in with Easter. It is widely accepted that Jesus' arrest, interrogation and crucifixion all happened at the start of Passover, and that the "Last Supper" was in fact a Passover Seder. For Christians, this can make a lot of sense, as Passover is all about redemption through the sacrifice of "the lamb."
Passover is the most anticipated of all Jewish holidays, and also one of the busiest times of year in Israel. The first and the last days of Passover are religious and legal holidays, so all preparation work must be done during the days prior to those two Sabbaths. But all that work is worth it, as Passover is not only a joyous time of festivity, but a solemn remembrance of the most defining moments in the history of the people of Israel.
Passover is first and foremost a commemoration of the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt, a rebirth from slavery into freedom of the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But it is not merely remembered as a piece of history. Jewish families are commanded to tell the Passover story to their children as though it happened to them personally. In so doing, the vital lessons of the Passover story remain just as relevant today as they were in the time of Moses.
In the run-up to Passover, most Jewish homes will go through what has become known in the West as "spring cleaning," an intense scouring of the house for all chametz, or leavened products. Often crumbs of bread will accumulate in hard-
Preparations for the Jewish New Year
The period preceding the Jewish New Year is marked by special penitential prayers, recited before the regular morning prayers, and the blowing of the ram's horn (shofar in Hebrew) after the morning prayer service. Jews of North African and Middle Eastern origin began to recite these special prayers on 1 September; Jews of European origin will begin to recite them on 24/25 September). These special prayers are said daily (except on the New Year holiday itself and the Sabbath) until the day before Yom Kippur (7 September).
Rosh Hashanah (the two-day Jewish new year), whose observance is mandated by Leviticus 23:23-25, will begin at sunset on Wednesday, 28 September and conclude at nightfall on Friday, 30 September. Both days are marked by special prayers and scriptural readings.
The centerpiece of the Rosh Hashanah service is the blowing of the shofar during morning prayers. (The shofar is not sounded on the Sabbath should either of the two days fall on Saturday.) Both days are full public holidays and, as on the Sabbath, there will be no public transportation or newspapers. In addition, many businesses, museums and other institutions, which are normally open on the Sabbath, will be closed over the holiday. The GPO will be closed on Wednesday-Satu
I just returned this evening from the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony held annually on this third to last day of the month of Nissan. I've been to six ceremonies since moving to Israel six years ago, and despite everything I know about the Holocaust (and being the child of a survivor I do know quite a bit) I'm always newly shocked by the stories that I hear from other survivors.
Each year, the city of Ra'ananna organizes a powerful hour of programming in commemoration of the Holocaust. Amidst the moving vocal tributes, six Holocaust survivors are individually escorted by young students to the outdoor stage at the city's Yad Labanim (city center) where they light six candles, each candle representing one million Jews who perished in the hands of the Nazis. As each survivor walks slowly to the stage to light his candle, a narrator tells the survivor's story. One woman, Lily, survived years of moving from camp to camp with little food, while everyone else in her family, excepting one sister, was torn away from her and murdered in the gas chambers. Lily managed to emigrate to Israel on a boat, the Exodus, where she met her husband. Together they bore two boys, both of which became Israeli Airforce pilots, and are still flying today. The audience cheered, and I had chills going down my spine.
The other five survivors honored tonight all had similar stories of survival. They all had bore children, grandchildren and several e