At Brith Sholem, we celebrate many of the Jewish holidays and festivals as a community. You’ll find descriptions of our typical observances below, along with links to sites with additional information about the holidays themselves.
The High Holidays–or Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe)–span the period beginning with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur. We typically celebrate Rosh Hashanah with services on Erev Rosh Hashanah, morning services on both the 1st and 2nd day of the holiday, a Tashlich observance, and a family service. Yom Kippur begins with the evening service known as Kol Nidre. During the day, we have morning services, a text study in the late afternoon, and a N’ilah (concluding) service. After sundown, we gather for a community Break-the-Fast. A list of food assignments for regular attendees is prepared in advance, but people are welcome to bring additional dairy potluck dishes.
Sukkot, or the Festival of Booths, is celebrated annually with the construction of a 3-sided sukkah whose roof consists of branches and leaves. We honor the harvest by waving the lulav and etrog and celebrate the holiday by dining in the sukkah. At Brith Sholem, we usually set up and decorate a sukkah at the home of one of our congregants and observe Shabbat during Sukkot with a potluck dinner in the sukkah.
On Simchat Torah, we celebrate the annual cycle of reading of the Torah, connecting the ending and the beginning with a joyful Hakafah, where the traditional parade with the scroll seven times around the synagogue is enlivened with song and dance. We usually observe Simchat Torah during the Shabbat service for that week.
Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, is largely celebrated at home, but the Brith Sholem community usually celebrates the holiday with a party with games and activities for the children as well as a group kindling of the lights on our menorahs (hanukkiot) and a potluck meal featuring latkes.
Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of Trees, is often celebrated with a seder with readings and tastings of several foods (often featuring those that grow in Israel) in honor of the cycle of the seasons.
On Purim, we celebrate the survival of the Jews in Persia due to the heroism of Esther and Mordechai. Brith Sholem’s Purim celebration always involves crazy costumes, lots of hamantaschen, a Purim spiel with lots of noisemaking, and the reading of the megillah (the Book of Esther).
Pesach (Passover) is celebrated with a seder at home or together with other members of the Brith Sholem community. The seder provides us with the opportunity to remember the redemption of the Children of Israel from Egyptian bondage with traditional songs, prayers, and readings, as well as discussions that bring new meaning to old rituals each and every year. Symbolic foods– including matzo, eggs, parsley, bitter herbs, and charoset–are central in the observance. We often celebrate with a community seder on the second night of Pesach.
Please consult the calendar of events for specifics on Brith Sholem’s observances of the holidays (dates, locations, etc.)