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Festivals and Holidays

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh HaShanah (literally, “Head of the Year”) is the Jewish New Year, a time of prayer, self-reflection, and repentance. We review our actions during the past year, and we look for ways to improve ourselves, our communities, and our world in the year to come.  

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The holiday marks the beginning of a 10-day period, known as the Yamim Nora-im (“Days of Awe” or “High Holidays”), ushered in by Rosh HaShanah and culminating with Yom Kippur (the “Day of Atonement”). Rosh HaShanah is widely observed by Jews throughout the world, often with prayer, reflection, and the sounding of the Shofar in a synagogue.  

 Congregational and family services are held on the eve of Rosh HaShanah, on the morning and afternoon of the first day, and on the morning of the second day. On the first day of Rosh HaShanah, services are followed by Tashlich, a walk over to Lake Michigan where we symbolically cast our sins into the water.  

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur, the "Day of Atonement," refers to the annual Jewish observance of fasting, prayer and repentance. Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.  

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Yom Kippur is the moment in Jewish time when we dedicate our mind, body, and soul to reconciliation with our fellow human beings, ourselves, and God. As the New Year begins, we commit to self-reflection and inner change. As both seekers and givers of pardon, we turn first to those whom we have wronged, acknowledging our sins and the pain we have caused them.  We are also commanded to forgive, to be willing to let go of any resentment we feel towards those who have committed offenses against us.  

The Kol Nidre prayer is recited on the eve of Yom Kippur at our congregational service. Congregational and family services are held on the morning and afternoon of the day of Yom Kippur. The day comes to an end with Yizkor and Concluding Services.  


Sukkot is one of the most joyful festivals on the Jewish calendar. “Sukkot,” a Hebrew word meaning "booths" or "huts," refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest. 

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The holiday has also come to commemorate the 40 years of Jewish wandering in the desert after the giving of the Torah atop Mt. Sinai. Temple Sholom builds a sukkah each year, and all are welcome to join us throughout the week! Festival morning services are held on the first day. 

Simchat Torah

Immediately following Sukkot, we observe Sh'mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, a fun-filled day 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

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TorahD’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. We also invite all who remember the Parshat from their B’nai Mitzvah to take part by finding the section and re-reading it! 

Historically, Sh’mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah were two separate holidays (a day of reflection after the end of Sukkot and a celebration of Torah the following day). However, in Israel and in Reform congregations, which generally observe one day of holidays rather than two, Sh’mini Atzeret is observed concurrently with Simchat Torah


One of the most festive holidays of the year, Chanukah, or the Festival of Lights, is usually celebrated in the home. Realizing that you can never have too many latkes, we also hold many celebrations in and around  Temple Shalom. We have a festive Chanukah Shabbat service preceded by a typical Chanukah dinner of brisket, latkes and afterward, sufganiyot.


Purim is one of the most beloved holidays on the Jewish calendar; it's a time of feasting and storytelling, where we turn our worlds upside-down. It's also a tale of the resiliency of the Jewish Diaspora in the face of hostility, and an important reminder that Jews practice joy, no matter how dark the world may seem.  We dress in costumes and eat three-cornered pastries called hamantaschen


The Festival of our Freedom, as Passover is known, celebrates the Exodus from Egypt more than 3,000 years ago from Egypt. The main observances of this holiday—the first and second nights -- center around a special home service called the seder (meaning "order"), which includes a festive meal and the from a book called the Haggadah, meaning “telling,” which contains the order of prayers, rituals, readings and songs. The Haggadah also helps us retell the events of the Exodus to that each generation may learn and remember this story that is so central to Jewish life and history. 

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At Temple Sholom we also host a Family Seder on the second night, suitable for families and children. On the last day of Passover, Yizkor services are held.

Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) is also marked by the prohibition on eating chametz (food made with leavened grains, including wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt); and the eating of matzah (an unleavened bread made specially for Passover). The eating of unleavened represents that the Jews had to flee Egypt so quickly that the bread being made didn’t have time to rise. 


The festival of Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and encourages us to embrace the Torah’s teachings and be inspired by the wisdom Jewish tradition has to offer. 

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Shavuot is the Hebrew word for “weeks,” and the holiday 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 the choice to participate actively in Jewish life. 


S'lichot is a late-night service usually held the Saturday before Rosh HaShanah. It is a beautiful, moving service usually preceded by dinner and study. It is the first time that we sing the penitential prayers of the High Holy Day season, beginning the process of soul-searching and soul-cleansing that make the High Holy Days so powerful and personal. 

Sat, June 22 2024 16 Sivan 5784