Jewish Holidays

Shavuot: The Feast of Weeks

Shavuot, the final festival in the  spring cycle that began with Passover, is the holiday that celebrates the first harvest, the ripening of the first fruits, and most importantly, the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people on Mt. Sinai. In the Bible, Shavuot is called by various other names: Feast of Weeks, Pentecost and Feast of the Giving of the Law. This year, the festival begins on the evening of May 14th, 5773. It is one of the Lord’s Moedim or appointed times. …

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Chag HaMatzot, Chag HaBikkurim, & Shemirat HaOmer

The Festival of Unleavened Bread - Chag ha’Matzot

matzaMatzah is a central symbol of Passover. The first matzah is eaten at the Seder and is the staple ‘bread’ during the next seven days, when no leavened products are eaten, in accord with Exodus 13:3-8, “Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place; no leavened bread shall be eaten. This day you are to go forth, in the month of Aviv. And when the Lord brings you into the land …which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; …and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory.” …

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The Festival of Purim …Eat and Rejoice!

This month we celebrate the festival of Purim, a traditional festival that comes to us from the biblical account of the story of Esther - the Queen who saved her people from the hand of a murderous enemy. You may have heard the old, humorous 'quip' about Jewish festivals as regards their history, "They tried to kill us. We won. Let's eat!" It is humorous but with a dark edge. Time after time, and again in the story of Esther, God miraculously delivers His people from the hands of almost certain death. The Hebrew word 'Purim' means 'lots'. According to the story, Haman cast lots to determine the day upon which to exterminate the Jews. …

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Tu B’Shvat- The New Year for Trees

The secular world has just passed the Gregorian reckoning of the New Year of 2013.  But for Jews this isn’t a New Year. For those of you who have heard Bob’s teachings concerning the Jewish calendar then you’ll know that the New Year is not January 1st.  But in case we seem like party poopers, you should know that we don’t have one New Year’s Day, we have four! - 1st Nisan; 1st Elul; 1st Tishrei; and 15th Shvat.  At a time in the calendar divested of leaves and greenness but rich in magic and metaphor, when the land of Israel is experiencing the end of the cold winter and the budding of the springtime to come, Jewish tradition establishes on Tu B’Shvat, on the 15th day of the month of Shvat, (Jan 26) the beginning of nature’s flowering, the New Year of the Trees.

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