Tu B’Shvat, known as the new year for trees, gets its name from the 15th day of the month (Shevat) when it is celebrated. On this day, the ages of all trees are calculated – this was done historically for tithing purposes. Now it has become a “Jewish Environmental Awareness Day.”
Our most playful holiday, Purim falls in the month of Adar. We read from the Scroll of Esther (the Megilah), wear costumes, shake groggers and celebrate with hamantaschen and a wonderful JCOH Purim Spiel that features both adults and children.
Celebrating our exodus from Egypt – Passover begins on the 15th day of Nisan. At JCOH we gather for a community Seder on the second night, in our main sanctuary (removing the pews and replacing them with tables). At the Passover Seder we relive our people’s journey from slavery to freedom and celebrate liberation and the meaning of physical, emotional and spiritual freedom.
Yom Ha Shoah, Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut
Yom Ha Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorates the 6 million Jews as well as other victims whose lives were cut short. Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day) reminds us that Judaism is an ever expanding living entity. Both of these holidays were established after the creation of the State of Israel. On Yom HaZikaron, we commemorate the Israeli soldiers who have lost their lives in defense of a Jewish homeland, and then celebrate our beloved Israel with a falafel dinner, Israeli music and dance.
49 Days after Passover we celebrate the giving of the Torah. Originally an agricultural holiday, the first fruits were traditionally brought to the Temple. Biblically this is a celebration of the meeting of God with the Israelites, and the receiving of the Ten Commandments. Together we relive standing at Mount Sinai, and receiving anew God’s precious gift of Torah. We read the commandments, play special music, and enjoy a special dairy meal of blintzes, cheeses and cheesecake.
A somber holiday, Tisha B’Av commemorates the tragedies that have befallen the Jews, including the destruction of the first and second Temples. We observe the evening with the reading of Eicha, Lamentations, in Hebrew and English.
Five days after Yom Kippur, we celebrate Sukkot, with services in the morning on the first day, followed by a special Kiddush in our Sukkah. The Sukkah reminds us of the fragility of life, and we are reminded of the wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness. Throughout the week we provide coffee and cookies, fulfilling the mitzvah of spending time in the Sukkah.
The Torah has 54 portions (parshiyot) and is read all the way through each year. Simchat Torah celebrates the ending of D’vareem and immediately begins with the book of Bereshit. Chocolates and flags are enjoyed by young and old and our sacred Torah- a blueprint for how to connect with God and humanity – is celebrated.
Our eight-day festival of lights comes at the darkest time of year, beginning in the Hebrew month of Kislev which often falls in December. We celebrate with lights and celebrate the Maccabees rededication of the Temple. Our congregation joins together to light the Chanukiyot in our sanctuary and on our lawn. We also commemorate this special joyous time with a Shabbat on the Beach, using the light of a bonfire as our Chanukiyot and Shabbat candles.