Jewish holiday

From Academic Kids

Jewish holiday, (or Yom Tov or chag or ta'anit in Hebrew) is a day that is holy to the Jewish people according to Judaism and is usually derived from the Hebrew Bible, specifically the Torah, and in some cases established by the rabbis in later eras. The holidays always occur on the Jewish calendar only. There are a number of festival days, fast days and days of remembrance, collectively known as "Jewish holidays" in English, ("Yamim Tovim" or "chagim" in Hebrew).


Aseret Yemei Teshuva - Ten Days of Repentance

Main article: Ten Days of Repentance

Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are ten days, known as Aseret Yemei Teshuva. During this time it is "exceedingly appropriate" for Jews to practice "Teshuvah" which is, examining one's ways, and engaging in Repentance and the improvement of their ways in anticipation of Yom Kippur. This repentence can take the form of early morning prayers, which capture the penitential spirit appropriate the occasion, fasting, or self-reflection.

Yom Kippur - Day of Atonement

Main article: Yom Kippur
  • Erev Yom Kippur - 9 Tishri
  • Yom Kippur - 10 Tishri
  • יום כיפור - י' בתשרי

Yom Kippur is considered by Jews to be the holiest and most solemn day of the year. Its central theme is atonement and reconciliation. Eating, drinking, bathing, and conjugal relations are prohibited. Fasting begins at sundown, and ends after nightfall the following day. Yom Kippur services begin with the prayer known as "Kol Nidrei", which must be recited before sunset. (Kol Nidrei, Aramaic for "all vows," is a public annullment of religious vows made by Jews during the preceding year. It only concerns unfilled vows made between a person and God, and does not cancel or nullify any vows made between people.)

A Tallit (four-cornered prayer shawl) is donned for evening prayers— the only evening service of the year in which this is done. The Ne'ilah service is a special service held only on the day of Yom Kippur, and deals with the closing of the holiday. Yom Kippur comes to an end with the blowing of the shofar, which marks the conclusion of the fast. It is always observed as a one-day holiday, both inside and outside the boundaries of the land of Israel.

Contrary to popular belief, Yom Kippur is not a sad day. Sephardic Jews (Jews of Spanish, Portuguese and North African descent) refer to this holiday as "the White Fast".

Sukkot - Festival of Booths

Main article Sukkot
  • Erev Sukkot - 14 Tishri
  • Sukkot - 15 Tishri
  • חג הסוכות - ט"ו בתשרי

Simchat Torah - Rejoicing of Torah

Main article: Simchat Torah

Hanukkah - Festival of Lights

Main article: Hanukkah
  • Erev Hanukkah - 24 Kislev
  • Hanukkah - 25 Kislev
  • חנוכה - כ"ה בכסלו

The story of Hanukkah is preserved in the books of the First and Second Maccabees. These books are not part of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), they are deuterocanonical books instead. The miracle of the one-day supply of oil miraculously lasting eight days is first described in the Talmud.

This holiday marks the defeat of Seleucid Empire forces that had tried to prevent the people of Israel from practicing Judaism. Judah Maccabee and his brothers destroyed overwhelming forces, and rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem. The eight-day festival is marked by the kindling of lights with a special menorah also called a hanukiah in Israel.

Among secular Jews, prior to the 20th century, this holiday was considered be a relatively minor one. However, with the commercialization of Christmas as a time for buying gifts adding to its position as the biggest holiday in the Western world, as well as the establishment of the modern state of Israel, this holiday began to increasingly serve both as a celebration of Israel's struggle for survival and as a December family gift-giving holiday which could function as a Jewish alternative to Christmas.

Tu Bishvat - New year of the trees

Main article: Tu Bishvat
  • Tu Bishvat - 15 Shevat
  • חג האילנות - ט"ו בשבט

Tu Bishvat is the new year for trees. This day was set aside in the Mishnah as the day on which to bring fruit tithes. It is still celebrated in modern times. In the Land of Israel during the 1600s Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed and his disciples created a short seder, reminiscent of the seder that Jews observe on Passover, that explores the holiday's Kabbalistic themes.

Purim - Festival of Lots

Main article Purim

Purim commemorates the events that took place in the Book of Esther. It is celebrated by reading or acting out the story of Esther, and by making disparaging noises at every mention of Haman's name. In Purim it is a tradition to masquarade around in costumes and to give Mishloah Manot (care packages, i.e. gifts of food and drink) to the poor and the needy. In Israel it is also a tradition to arrange festive parades, known as Ad-Lo-Yada, in the town's main street.

New Year for Kings

  • New Year for Kings - 1 Nisan. This holiday is no longer celebrated. Nisan is the first month of the Hebrew calendar. In Mishnaic times this holiday was celebrated as the New Year for Kings and months. In addition to this new year, the Mishna sets up three other New Year's:
  • 1st of Elul, New Year for animal tithes,
  • 1st of Tishrei (Rosh Hashanah) New Year, and
  • 15th of Shevat Tu B'shevat, the New Year for Trees/fruit tithes.

Ever since the Babylonian diaspora (as a result of the Babylonian captivity of Judah), only the Rosh Hashanah and Tu B'shevat are still celebrated.

Pesach - Passover

Main article: Passover

Pesach (Passover) commemorates the liberation of the Israelite slaves from Egypt. The first seder is after the 14th of Nisan since in Judaism, a day begins at nightfall, so the first seder is thus on the night of the 15th, the second seder is held on the night of the 16th of Nisan. On that night Jews start counting the omer. The counting of the omer is a counting down of the days from the time they left Egypt. until the time they arrived at Mount Sinai. No leavened food is eaten during the week of Pesach.

Karaites start the omer count on the Sunday of Passover week.

Sefirah - Counting of the Omer

Main article: Counting of the Omer
  • Sefirah (The counting); also known as Sefirat Ha'Omer
  • ספירת העומר
  • Lag Ba'omer the "33rd day of the Omer" commemorations and celebrations

Sefirah is the 49 day ("seven weeks") period between Pesach and Shavuot; it is defined by the Torah as the period during which special offerings are to be brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. Judaism teaches that this makes physical the spiritual connection between Pesach and Shavuot.

New Israeli/Jewish national holidays

Since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has established four new Jewish holidays.

These four days are national holidays in the State of Israel, and have since been accepted as religious holidays in general by the following groups: The Union of Orthodox Congregations and Rabbinical Council of America; The United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth (United Kingdom); The Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel; All of Reform Judaism and Conservative Judaism; The Union for Traditional Judaism and the Reconstructionist movement.

These four new days are not accepted as religious holidays by Hasidic Judaism and Haredi Judaism. These groups view these new days as Israeli national holidays.

Yom Ha'Shoah - Holocaust Remembrance day

Main article: Yom Ha'Shoah
  • Yom Ha'Shoah - 27 Nisan
  • יום הזכרון לשואה ולגבורה - כ"ז בניסן

Yom Ha'Shoah is also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, and takes place on the 27th day of Nisan.

Yom Hazikaron - Memorial Day

Main article: Yom Hazikaron
  • Yom Hazikaron - 4 Iyar
  • יום הזכרון לחללי מערכות ישראל - ד' באייר

Yom Hazikaron is the day of remembrance in honor of Israeli veterans and fallen soldiers of the Wars of Israel. The Memorial Day also commemorates fallen civilians, slain by acts of hostile terrorism. [1] (

Yom Ha'atzma'ut - Israel Independence Day

Main article: Yom Ha'atzma'ut

Yom Ha'atzma'ut is Israel's Independence Day. An official ceremony is held annually on the eve of Yom Ha'atzma'ut at Mount Herzl. The ceremony includes speeches by senior Israeli officials, an artistic presentation, a ritual march of flag-carrying soldiers forming elaborate structures (such as a Menorah, a Magen David and the number which represents the age of the State of Israel) and the lighting of twelve beacons (one for each of the Tribes of Israel). Dozens of Israeli citizens, who contributed significantly to the state, are selected to light these beacons.

When the 5th of Iyar, as in 2005, falls on a Friday or Saturday (i.e. in conflict with the Jewish Sabbath), the official celebration may be moved to the nearest Thursday. [2] (

Lag Baomer - ל"ג בעומר

Main article: Lag Ba'Omer

Yom Yerushalayim - Jerusalem Day

Main article: Yom Yerushalayim

Yom Yerushalayim marks the 1967 reunification of Jerusalem and The Temple Mount under Jewish rule during the Six Day War almost 1900 years after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

Shavuot - Pentecost

Main article Shavuot

Shavuot, The Feast of Weeks, is sometimes known by the Greek name "Pentecost." One of the three pilgrimage festivals (Shalosh regalim) ordained in the Torah, Shavuot marks the end of the counting of the Omer, the period between Passover and Shavuot. According to Rabbinic tradition, the Ten Commandments were given on this day. During this holiday the Torah portion containing the Ten Commandments is read in the synagogue, and the biblical Book of Ruth is read as well. It is traditional to eat dairy meals during Shavuot.

Karaites always celebrate Shavuot on a Sunday.

The Three Weeks and the Nine Days

Main article: The three weeks

The days between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av are days of mourning, on account of the collapse of Jerusalem during the Roman occupation which occurred during this time framework. Weddings and other joyful occasions are traditionally not held during this period. A further element is added within the three weeks, during the nine days between the 1st and 9th day of Av— the pious refrain from eating meat and drinking wine, except on Shabbat or at a Seudat Mitzvah (a Mitzvah meal, such as a Pidyon Haben— the recognition of a firstborn male child— or the study completion of a religious text.) In addition, one's hair is not cut during this period.

In Conservative Judaism, the Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards has issued several responsa (legal rulings) which hold that the prohibitions against weddings in this timeframe are deeply held traditions, but should not be construed as binding law. Thus, Conservative Jewish practice would allow weddings during this time, except on the 9th of Av itself. Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism hold that halakha (Jewish law) is no longer binding, so weddings may be held on any of these days. Orthodox Judaism maintains the traditional prohibitions.

Tisha B'av - Ninth of Av

Main article Tisha B'Av

Tisha B'Av is a fast day, that commemotates two of the saddest days in Jewish history— the destruction of both the first Temple (587 BC) originally built by King Solomon,(see Solomon's Temple), and the Second Temple in 70 on this same date. Also on this date in 1290, King Edward I signed the edict compelling the Jews to leave England. The Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492 also occurred on this day. World War I also began on this date.

Tithe of animals

  • New Year for Animal Tithes (Taxes) - 1 Elul

This commemoration is no longer observed. This day was set up by the Mishna as the New Year for animal tithes, which is somewhat equivalent to a new year for taxes. (This notion is similar to the tax deadline in the United States of America on April 15.)

Shabbat - The Sabbath יום השבת

Main article: Shabbat

While the Sabbath is not considered a holiday as such by some other cultures and religions, Jewish law accords Shabbat the status of a holiday. Jews celebrate a Shabbat, a day of rest, on the seventh day of each week. Jewish law defines a day as ending at nightfall, which is when the next day then begins. Thus, Shabbat begins at sundown Friday night, and ends at nightfall Saturday night.

In many ways halakha (Jewish law) gives Shabbat the status of being the most important holy day in the Jewish calendar.

  • It is the first holiday mentioned in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), and God was the first one to observe it.
  • The liturgy treats the Sabbath as a bride and queen.
  • The Torah reading for the Sabbath has more parshiot (Torah readings) than Yom Kippur, the most of any Jewish holiday.
  • There is a tradition that the Messiah will come if every Jew observes the Sabbath twice in a row.
  • The Biblical penalty for violating Shabbat is greater than that for violating any other holiday.

Variances in observances

The denominations of Reconstructionist Judaism and Reform Judaism generally regard Jewish laws (halakha) relating to all these holidays as important, but no longer binding. Orthodox Judaism and Conservative Judaism hold that the halakha relating to these days are still normative (i.e. to be accepted as binding.)

There are a number of differences in religious practices between Orthodox and Conservative Jews, because these denominations have distinct ways of understanding the process of how halakha has historically developed, and thus how it can still develop. Nonetheless, both of these groups have nearly identical teachings about how to observe these holidays.

See also



de:Jdische Feste he:חגי ישראל ומועדיו it:Festivit ebraiche la:Feriae Iudaicae nl:Lijst van joodse feestdagen ja:ユダヤ教の祝祭日 pl:Święta żydowskie


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools