UNITED SYNAGOGUES

                  OF

GREATER HARTFORD


 
2015
UPCOMING HOLIDAYS

Pesach :       April, 4, 2015
                             April 6-9
                             April 10-11
Shavuot:     May 24-25, 2015
Tish'a B'Av:Jul 26, 2015


JEWISH HOLIDAYS

Rosh Hashanah.  

The New Year holiday is a day of repentance and pleading with G-d.  Our Creator, referred to as our Father and our King, judges us annually reviewing our good deeds and our errors.  Time has passed but have we used our time wisely or have we wasted it away?  We ask for more time to do things right, eat honey covered apples and wish everyone a happy and sweet year.  No work is performed on this day and most Jewish families celebrate this holiday together.

Yom Kippur.  

G-d judges the Jewish people on Rosh Hashanah but determines his final decree on Yom Kippur.  Jews fast, wear white clothing, attend synagogue all day long, taking the opportunity to make one last case that G-d should judge us kindly and grant us Life.   The evening service, named Kol Nidre, asks G-d to forgive us from vows we have made or pledges we were unable to keep.  During the Spanish Inquisition, Jews pretended to take on another faith to avoid execution.  Morning service contains Yizkor, remembering those who have passed away.  At night, Nilah services symbolize the closing of the gates of heaven and the books telling what our fate will be for the next year.

Sukkoth.  

The Festival of Booths requires us to dwell in booths for seven days (eight days outside of Israel).  The torah requires us to combine a willow branch, myrtle branch, psalm branch and a citron fruit together and shake it.  The holiday is referred to as the Holiday of Rejoicing.  We assume G-d has judged us kindly and we enjoy this harvest festival. 

Shimini Hag Atzereth and Simchat Torah.The eighth day of Assembly concludes the holiday period.  In the time of the Temple 70 sacrifices were made for every nation in the world.  The Temple was washed down on at the day�s conclusion.  We finish reading the five books of Moses (Deuteronomy) on this day and begin the book of Genesis.  The torahs are paraded in the synagogue and the children are honored for mastering the Hebrew language. 

Chanukah.  

A post-biblical holiday that is the result of a miracle.  The Syrian Greeks attempted to change our faith.  They defiled the Temple by erecting statues and killing unkosher animals.  They prohibited circumcision and Sabbath observance.  A revolt led by Mattithius, a Temple priest, and his five sons removed the enemy and renewed the Temple to where it was before.  Although they were few in number, G-d championed the few over the many and the right over the persecutors.  The holiday is observed for 8 days by lighting candles which remind us of the miracle of their accomplishment and that the burning of oil in the Temple's Menorah  lasted 8 days longer than expected.

Tu B'Shevat.  

The 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat, is a holiday also knownas the New Year for Trees. The word "Tu" is not really a word; it is the number 15  in Hebrew Judaism has several different "new years".  Tu B'Shevat is the new year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for fithing, which states that fruit from tress may not be eaten during the first three years, the fourth year's fruit is for G-D, and  after that, you can eat the fruit.  There are few customs of observances related to this holiday.  One custom is to eat a new fruit on this day.  Some people plant trees on this day..
Purim.   A post-biblical holiday that is the result of a miracle.  During the Persian period, a man named Haman, the prime minister of the Persian King tried to destroy the Jewish people.  Artixerxes (Ashveros), king of Persia, married Esther, a Jewish descendant of the tribe of Benjamin.  She and her uncle Mordechai show the king of their loyalty to the kingdom and the treachery of Haman and save the Jewish people.  Purim is celebrated by reading the story of Esther, and reading the Megillah, which includes sounding groggers blotting out Haman's name.  The Hebrew school has traditionally performed a Purim play.  

Passover.  

Jacob's son Joseph arose from slave to viceroy of Egypt.  After Joseph's death a new Pharaoh of Egypt forgot his accomplishments and enslaved the Jewish people. G-d performs 10 plagues while Moses and Aaron plead for the release of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Jewish people were released on the 14th day of  Nisan (Passover).  The Torah requires observing this holiday for seven days (we observe 8 outside of Israel) and we are required not to eat anything with leavening and not to do any work on the first and last days.  We are required to eat Matzo (unleavened bread), bitter herbs and a communal meal. 

Lag B'Omer.

The torah requires that we count the weeks and days from Passover to Shavouth starting on the 2nd day  of Passover.  This period is a time of partial mourning during which weddings, parties, and dancing are not conducted in memory of a plague during the lifetime of Rabbi Akiba.  The 33rd day of the Omer the  (the eighteenth of lyar) is a minor holiday commenorating a break in the plague.  The mourning practices of the omer period are lifted on that date.  The word "Lag" is not really a word it is the number 33 in Hebrew.  Lab GOmer is also the birth date of Shimon Bar Yochai, the author of the Kaggalah and mysticism. the holiday is observed by having picnics and children getting their first haircut on this day.

Shavuout.  

The Feast of Weeks is always observed 50 days from the second day of Passover.  It took the Jewish people 49 days to reach Mount Sinai once they left Egypt.  The holiday commemorates the receiving of the law at Sinai, which includes the Ten Commandments.  G-d spoke to all the Jewish people at Mt Sinai.  No work is allowed and many stay up all night, so as to greet G-d if the Master of the World should speak to everyone again. 

Seventeenth of Tamuz.   This is a day of great sadness.  The walls of Jerusalem were breached on this day, the first set of the Ten Commandments was broken on this day and many bad events have this date as its anniversary.  Weddings, engagements, happy events and new projects are to be delayed for three weeks (after the 9th day of Av). 

Tisha B'Av.   Both Solomon's and Herod's Temple were both destroyed on this day.  The Jews were expelled from Spain and the Spanish Inquisition began on this day.  The Bar Kochba revolt (the last Jewish statehood) was crushed on this day.  The book of Lamentations is read and a full day fast is observed.