Shabbat is a glorious release from weekday concerns and routine pressures. It is a day of peace, tranquility, inner joy and spiritual uplift accompanied by song and delight. A day to gather with family and friends.
Visit our Shabbat & Daily Minyan page to see the variety of services we offer each week.
Just after Yom Kippur, the eight day festival of Sukkot is a welcome break from Yom Kippur’s heavy mood of introspection and soul searching. Many mitzvot are associated with Sukkot. The sukkah itself and the gathering of the lulav and etrog are undoubtedly the most recognizable of the mitzvot
The Festival of Lights celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian-Greek army and the reclaiming and re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
The miracle of Hanukkah, however, comes later in the Hanukkah story—a single flask of oil, used to light the menorah in the Temple, could only last for one day. Instead, it lasted for eight.
Each night of Hanukkah, the candles are lit. In some families, each person lights their own hanukkiah; in others, one is lit for the entire family. Watch Rabbi Sunshine, Rabbi Wallach and Avi Mitzner recite the Hanukkah blessings.
Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Tradition has it that all of us stood together at Sinai, and prepared ourselves for the gift of the Torah. Shavuot is a joyous holiday in which we reaffirm our commitment to Judaism and to the spiritual journey of Jewish learning.
As is true of all Jewish holidays, the festival of Shavuot has many layers of meaning. Originally the conclusion to the barley harvest (begun at Pesach), Shavout was initially an agricultural holiday that was celebrated at the Temple in Jerusalem. With the destruction of the Temple, the significance of the holiday changed and expanded. Rabbinic sages determined that exactly seven weeks (Shavuot literally means “weeks”) elapsed between the exodus from Egypt and the revelation at Sinai. Shavuot, they taught, was z’man matan Torateinu, (the day that commemorates the giving of the Torah on Sinai).
Today, Shavuot is marked with special prayers, foods, the reading of Megillat Rut (the biblical Book of Ruth) and most importantly, the unique custom of Tikkun Leil Shavuot (an all night Torah study session). For more information on the mitzvot of Shavuot, further insight into the revelation on Mt. Sinai, recipes for the holiday and more, explore the Adath library.
Why Dairy on Shavuot? Here are few of the many reasons offered over the years:
PurimThe holiday of Purim is based on the story in Megillat Esther (the Bible’s Book of Esther). Scholars have had difficulty identifying the time and characters of the story from a historical perspective. Nevertheless, Purim has attained great popularity because it reflects the perennial problem of the Jewish people—animosity against the Jews.
Despite (or perhaps because) of its very serious theme, the holiday is full of merry-making with songs, drinks, jokes, costumes, tricks, Purim shpiels and more.
There are four mitzvot specifically associated with Purim. They include:
By observing these mitzvot, we can fully enter the spirit of the holiday and reflect on its timeless story and lessons.
High Holy Days
The High Holy Days are a sacred time for family and community where we step out of our daily routines and seek a deeper, more meaningful connection to God. Through prayer and song, we express our appreciation for the beauty and purpose of life. Join us as we pray together for health and happiness; for freedom and prosperity of our country; for safety, security, success and peace for the people of Israel and for all humanity. We offer a variety of services .
Rosh HashanahThe Jewish New Year
The beginning of a new year is filled with mixed emotions. In looking back on the previous year we focus on our failures, missed opportunities and the precious moments that slipped by. At the same time, the High Holy days provide us with a new year full of hope and renewal.
The rituals and symbols of Rosh Hashanah wonderfully capture and express these mixed feelings. The shofars’ blasts cry out for the year gone by. The shofar urges us to wake up, look inside ourselves and to recognize our habitual shortcomings. By beginning the process of introspection in the month of Elul we can recite the prayers of the High Holy days with a sense of seriousness and urgency.
But Rosh Hashanah is more than just somber prayers in a minor key. Gathered as families around the dining room table, we dip challah and apples into honey. The sweet honey reminds us of the many pleasures we experienced in the course of the previous year. By reciting special blessings we ask God to grant us a new year of health and happiness.
Yom Kippur lacks the shofar and the festival meal of Rosh Hashanah, but its rituals are no less powerful, its symbols no less evocative.
On Yom Kippur we dress in white. Over suits and dresses, it is customary to wear a kittel (white robe) during tefillot. White reminds us of the purity that we strive to attain throughout our lives.
During the course of the day’s extended prayers, one symbol is repeated over and over again. As we recite the vidui (confessional), it is customary to stand slightly bowed and to lightly beat our hearts with our fisted right hand. Bent over under the weight of burdens and pain, we express our humility. Admitting that our hearts turned astray, we beat our chest to express the pain we caused ourselves and others.
When done for the first time, the customs of wearing a kittel and beating our chests may feel awkward and embarrassing. But both help us better enter the words of our prayers and the mood of the day.
Shemini Atzeret and Simhat Torah
Shemini Atzeret and Simhat Torah are distinguished by their emphasis on the Torah. It is a time when the community gathers to celebrate the completion of the annual Torah reading cycle and the transition from the end of the book Devarim (Deuteronomy) to the beginning of Beresheet (Genesis). The celebration includes prayer, song and dance. Both the young and the old will dance around and embrace the Torah to show their love and appreciation for the gift of its teachings.
On May 14, 1948 (5th Iyar), the modern State of Israel declared independence. For the first time in almost 1,900 years, the Jewish people had a free and independent homeland in the biblical Promised Land.
Every day since that declaration of independence, Israel and been forced to struggle to survive. But Israel has not only survived, it has thrived as a nation. Appropriately, Israelis celebrate Yom Ha’azmaut(Israeli Independence Day) with joyous festivities- parades, picnics, games and speeches.
Yom Ha’azamaut is a day of celebration not only for Israelis. Jews around the world join in because while Israel is the physical homeland of many Jews, it is the spiritual homeland of all Jews.
Lag B'OmerLag B’Omer is literally the 33rd day of (the counting of) the Omer, and falls on the 18th day of the month of Iyar. It is a 24-hour spiritual festival with music, dancing and intense prayers. In fact, Lag B’Omer is one of a very few days between Pesach and Shavuot when Jewish law permits weddings.
The Omer is the seven weeks (49 days) between the second night of Passover and the day before Shavuot. This mourning period is to remind us that the Jews redemption from slavery (during Exodus) was not complete until we received the Torah, which we commemorate on Shavuot.
Yom Hazikaron Day of Remembrance
Yom HaZikaron, the Israeli Memorial Day, is a day to remember Israel’s fallen soldiers. For 24 hours (from sunset to sunset) all places of public entertainment (theaters, cinemas, nightclubs, pubs, etc.) are closed.
The entire nation observes a two-minute standstill of all traffic and daily activities marked by a country-wide siren. The first siren marks the beginning of Memorial Day at 8:00 pm, and the second is at 11:00 pm, before the public recitation of prayers in the military cemeteries.
All radio and television stations this day broadcast programs and songs devoted to the lives and heroic deeds of fallen soldiers.
Yom Hashoah Holocaust Remembrance Day
Between 1939 and 1945, the Nazi Party, led by German Chancellor Adolph Hitler, engaged in the systematic attempt to kill every Jew in the world. Their “success,” the death of six million Jews (one-third of the world’s Jewish population), was and remains, overwhelmingly devastating to the Jewish people.
Yom HaShoah is a day to commemorate this tragic history. Solemn programs that often include memorial prayers and reminisces by Holocaust survivors help mark this day. While Yom HaShoah can do little to erase the anguish of destruction and death, it can do much to help Jews remember the victims and pledge to work toward a world where this kind of genocide will never happen again.
Tu B'ShevatTu B’Shevat is the fifteenth of the month of Shevat. We celebrate this rich holiday, known as the New Year for Trees, with some of the traditional fruits that grow in Israel.
Why do we celebrate a New Year for Trees in the middle of winter? In Israel this is the approximate time when the sap begins to flow once again, marking the “rebirth” of the tree following its winter hibernation. For Minnesotans, it serves as a reminder that spring will indeed come, as well as a link to our history and roots. And for all, it is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to caring for the environment!
Planting a tree in Israel is the perfect way to show you care. You can plant trees for many different reasons and help green the land of Israel while sending a special gift to a friend or loved one. For each order, a beautiful certificate of your choice is mailed to the recipient with your own personal message.
Plant trees for all of these occasions: birth, Bar or Bat Mitzvah, graduation, wedding, birthday, get-well wish, or in memory of someone special. Over the last 100 years, JNF has planted over 240 million trees in the land of Israel. Click here to purchase trees through JNF.
Pesach (Passover)The holiday of Pesach (Passover) commemorates the exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egyptian slavery. It is also the springtime festival that celebrates the rebirth of the earth after the long, cold winter. Perhaps more than any other holiday, Pesach has shaped who we are as a Jewish people and who we want to become. Its story of slavery and freedom recalls our earliest history as a nation and also expresses our ongoing dream of a world redeemed.
The laws and customs of Pesach are extensive and detailed and preparing for the holiday requires some time and effort. But the mitzvot of kashering our homes for Pesach and making a seder bring to life the timeless lessons of this beautiful festival.
For more information on the laws and rituals of Pesach, how to celebrate and the meanings behind this celebration of freedom, explore the articles and links below. Further resources are available in the Adath library and from the rabbis.
Tisha B'AvLiterally, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, Tisha B’Av commemorates the destruction of the Holy Temples in Jerusalem in 586 BCE and 70 CE. We remember the destruction of Jewish life in Israel and the resulting exile of the Jewish people from their land on this solemn day of mourning and fasting.
The prophet Jeremiah who witnessed the destruction and lived through exile chronicled his experience in what became the biblical book of Eikha (Lamentations). The reading of Eikha by candle light on Tisha B’Av is one of the special mitzvot associated with this summer fast day.