Feasts of the Lord

About Hanukkah

about-hanukkah

What is Hanukkah

Hanukkah (also known as Chanukah, the Feast of Dedication and the Festival of Lights) is an eight day festival celebrating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 165 BC.  It is celebrated on 25 Kislev on the Jewish calendar.

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Jewish Holidays 2012

The traditional Jewish/Hebrew calendar is based on a lunar calendar with 12 lunar months of 30 days.  Every two to three years, an intercalatory year is added to adjust to the solar cycle.

Jewish festivals begin on Sunday the evening before.  The Hebrew calendar begins with Rosh Hashana, which is the Jewish New Year.

Below is a listing of Jewish holidays and feasts as they fall in the 2012 Gregorian calendar.

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Jewish Holidays 2011

The traditional Jewish/Hebrew calendar is based on a lunar calendar with 12 lunar months of 30 days.  Every two to three years, an intercalatory year is added to adjust to the solar cycle.

Jewish festivals begin on Sunday the evening before.  The Hebrew calendar begins with Rosh Hashana, which is the Jewish New Year.

Below is a listing of Jewish holidays and feasts as they fall in the 2011 Gregorian calendar.

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The counting of the Omer

According to the Torah (Lev. 23:15), we are obligated to count the days from Passover to Shavu'ot. This period is known as the Counting of the Omer. An omer is a unit of measure. On the second day of Passover, in the days of the Temple, an omer of barley was cut down and brought to the Temple as an offering. This grain offering was referred to as the Omer.

Every night, from the second night of Passover to the night before Shavu'ot, we recite a blessing and state the count of the omer in both weeks and days. So on the 16th day, you would say "Today is sixteen days, which is two weeks and two days of the Omer." The Orthodox Union has a chart that provides the transliterated Hebrew and English text of the counting day-by-day.

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Shabbat

The Sabbath (or Shabbat, as it is called in Hebrew) is one of the best known and least understood of all Jewish observances. People who do not observe Shabbat think of it as a day filled with stifling restrictions, or as a day of prayer like the Christian Sabbath. But to those who observe Shabbat, it is a precious gift from G-d, a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout the week, a time when we can set aside all of our weekday concerns and devote ourselves to higher pursuits. In Jewish literature, poetry and music, Shabbat is described as a bride or queen, as in the popular Shabbat hymn Lecha Dodi Likrat Kallah (come, my beloved, to meet the [Sabbath] bride). It is said "more than Israel has kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept Israel."

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Shavuot

Shavu'ot, the Festival of Weeks, is the second of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Passover and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it commemorates the time when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple, and is known as Hag ha-Bikkurim (the Festival of the First Fruits). Historically, it celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and is also known as Hag Matan Torateinu (the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah).

The period from Passover to Shavu'ot is a time of great anticipation. We count each of the days from the second day of Passover to the day before Shavu'ot, 49 days or 7 full weeks, hence the name of the festival. See The Counting of the Omer. The counting reminds us of the important connection between Passover and Shavu'ot: Passover freed us physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Shavu'ot redeemed us spiritually from our bondage to idolatry and immorality. Shavu'ot is also known as Pentecost, because it falls on the 50th day; however, Shavu'ot has no particular similarity to the Christian holiday of Pentecost, which occurs 50 days after their Spring holiday.

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Purim

The story of Purim is told in the Biblical book of Esther. The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia, and her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as if she were his daughter. Esther was taken to the house of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to become part of his harem. King Ahasuerus loved Esther more than his other women and made Esther queen, but the king did not know that Esther was a Jew, because Mordecai told her not to reveal her identity.

The villain of the story is Haman, an arrogant, egotistical advisor to the king. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, so Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people. In a speech that is all too familiar to Jews, Haman told the king, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from those of every other people's, and they do not observe the king's laws; therefore it is not befitting the king to tolerate them." Esther 3:8. The king gave the fate of the Jewish people to Haman, to do as he pleased to them. Haman planned to exterminate all of the Jews.

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Passover

matzah

Pesach (Passover) is one of three pilgrimage festivals during which all the men of Israel are to come up to Jerusalem. The other two are Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). Celebrated on the Hebrew month of Nisan 14–21 (generally in April), Pesach is an eight-day holiday remembering the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt. Unlike most of the biblical feasts, Pesach is celebrated primarily in the home with friends and family, not in a synagogue. At least 98% of Israeli Jews participate, to some degree, in Pesach, celebrating God’s protection and provision. It’s a popular time for Jews from the nations to visit Israel, and many Israeli families take week-long vacations.

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