We would like to share with you a series of short explanations about Jewish Holidays and Celebrations, written by Reverend W. Silfhout of the Netherlands. What follows below is Reverend W. Silfhout’s introduction for the series:
Jewish Holidays/Celebrations can be discussed by following the calendar year. However, I have chosen not to follow the calendar year. Rather, I have chosen to discuss the holidays/celebrations as they are presented in the Bible. In addition to the calendar holidays, there are additional holidays which play an important role in Judaism in the present day.
In the Jewish tradition, a distinction is made among holidays namely High Holidays and regular Feast days.
Among the High holidays are:
- Pesach [Easter],
- Shavuot [Pentecost],
- and Sukkot [Feast of Tabernacles],
- after which is connected the Simchat Thora [Rejoicing of the Torah].
The High Feast days consist of:
- Rosh Hashana [ Jewish New year}
- and Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement].
The half celebrations are:
- Chanukkah [the Remembrance of the rededication of the temple in 164 AD],
- Tu B’Shevat (a sort of tree planting day),
- Purim (a remembrance of the release of Jews during the time of Queen Esther),
- Yom Ha’alzmaut [Israel Independence Day,
- and Yom Yerushalayim [Jerusalem Day marking the 1967 reunification of Jerusalem].
(In regard to the lesser holidays, I am only going to discuss Chanukkah and Purim.)
In addition, it is important to note that the Jewish year is not a sun year but a lunar year. It is dependent on the time that it takes the moon to complete a full cycle around the earth. The lunar year consists of 354 days, while the sun year has 365 days. To reconcile the moon year with the sun year, an extra month is added to the moon year seven times during a nineteen year period.
The short and thorough explanations will be sent to you by email on the last Wednesday of every month with a printable copy as well.
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