List of Jewish Holidays

I lived in Tel Aviv for years and had been witness to how people there love their holy days. And from time to time as ask myself,”What Jewish holiday is today?” – especially if there is an unusual number of people at the beach or park, or everyone dons colorful costumes or joins a parade. Many of their holidays run up to a week or even longer. Here is a list which Israelis observer or celebrate:

List of Jewish Holidays

Rosh Hashanah.

The Jewish New Year. The holiday is more about gift giving. Chocolates. Wines. Chocolates. All other Israeli food treats and delicacies. Did I say chocolates? All are bundled up in a basket and wrapped with plastic to be given as gift baskets to family members and loved ones, friends and business associates.

Yom Kippur.

Day of Atonement. It is definitely one of the most important in Jewish holidays calendar. When I was still living in Jaffa, during this religious day, the place – like any other places in Israel – was devoid of cars and autobuses. Streets are practically deserted [How are they able to do that? I mean, where did Israelis go that day (in my neighborhood in Jaffa at least) which left me wondering while walking the street Hayamit literally alone even during the middle of the day.]

Tourists are often surprised to see that the day (particularly in the afternoon before the holiday is over) is spent on the road with their scooters and bikes, mainly their means of going around for the day. Definitely it is going to a solemn Tel Aviv during Yom Kippur 2013.

Sukkot.

The English versions are aplenty. One of the most popular in the Jewish holiday calendar. It is also known as the Festival of Biblical Pilgrimage, Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of Booths. Israelis are reminded by this holiday of the time when the ancient Israelites experienced wandering in the Sinai Desert. Sukkah is the name of the tabernacle or booth that is best associated with Sukkot. It is made of branches and must not completely cover the roof so as for stars to still be clearly seen as one peers thru it.

Simchat Torah.

It is the reading and completion of Torah, the main celebration of which takes place in synagogue services. It is actually the only time of the year when the Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark to be read in the evening.

Pesach

The Passover celebrates the freedom of the Israelites from the Bondage of Egypt. Have you tried eating Matzo or Matzah? This is the unleavened bread, the only bread available for Israelis to eat during the Passover. Consuming of the leavened one, called Chametz, is strictly not allowed. Groceries and stores usually put cloth covering on their racks that contain leavened bread.

I tried eating Matzah a couple of times; I find it best to eat with Humus, Tahina and pickle. Albeit unfortunately, I was not able to attend this Jewish Dinner, and actually see a Pesach seder plate, that marks the beginning of this holiday. One of the interesting traditions which is a must during a Passover seder is the drinking of 4 cups of wine.

Chanukah

The Festival of Lights is the longest in the list of Jewish holidays, which run for 8 days. Here is where I see the special candle holder that has eight branches; it is called Hanukiya. One candle is lit everyday until all candles are lighted at the eight day. During this special week, you see Hanukiya everywhere, most especially at windows of houses. I believe the lights coming from the candles serve to illuminate the way.

Purim.

It is the commemoration of the saving of Persian Jews from death with the help of Queen Esther during the reign of Xerxes. It is known to be one of the joyous, if not the joyous holidays in the country. Parades are found in the city and in many parts of the state as well. Colorful, even outlandish costumes, and dances on the streets; that’s what you see if you happen to travel to Tel Aviv during this vital Jewish holiday calendar event.

Yom HaShoah

The Holocaust Remembrance Day. If you happen to tune in to your YES cable during Yom HaShoah, most channels will show “Holocaust Remembrance” notice on the programming for the whole day. In the morning throughout the country, sirens are heard by everyone for a few minutes. Israelis simply drop everything that they do and keep silent while all vehicles would stop in the streets during this brief moment. All would remember the millions of Jews who died during the Holocaust.

Lag Be’Omer.

Popular in the Jewish holy days calendar that commemorates the death of Rabbi Shim’on Bar Yochai, the great one and a major proponent of Kabbalah. So if you ask “what Jewish holiday is today,” when you see the burning of bonfire in parks, you must realize that this is a tradition of the holiday.

If you happen to have some wood lying in your part of the sidewalk, consider it as gone during Lag Be’Omer as Israeli kids will surely get hold of them as they try to outdo one another in building bonfires. It is likewise known as an outdoor celebration and so partying and get together are common during this holiday.