Category: Holidays

Adding Some Shenanigans to your Purim

Adding Some Shenanigans to your Purim

Purim is the perfect time to add some whimsy and shenanigans to your celebration. It is okay to be silly with these activities!
Doing Teshuvah Outside of Communal Prayers

Doing Teshuvah Outside of Communal Prayers

This teshuvah, written at a time when gathering was not possible, explores doing teshuvah outside of communal prayers.
Birkat Yeladim: Blessing Children

Birkat Yeladim: Blessing Children

Read more on how to preform Birkat Yeladim, the blessing over our children, and where the blessing and practice come from.
Charlton Heston Speaking

Charlton Heston Speaking

We can learn about leadership from Moses, as well as from Charlton Heston speaking, as he plays Moses in the Ten Commandments movie.
Why We Cover Challah at the Shabbat Table

Why We Cover Challah at the Shabbat Table

Why we cover Challah at the Shabbat table can be found when we learn about manna and the seven species of Israel.
Confessions of a Fussy Kiddush Nosher

Confessions of a Fussy Kiddush Nosher

Though Kiddush in synagogue is a great for connecting with community, food options can be challenging and a limiting factor for picky eaters.
Shirat Hayam - They're playing our song!

Shirat Hayam: They’re playing our song!

Shirat Hayam connects us to a collective memory and is the proof-text that enlarges, extends, and authenticates the meaning of the prayer. 
Why I Change the Melodies: Exploring Keva and Kavanah

Why I Change the Melodies: Exploring Keva and Kavanah

By occasionally changing melodies, we draw from both Keva and Kavanah and invite ourselves into a deeper connection with our prayers.

What is a Tu Bishvat Seder?

Tu Bishvat is a holiday rooted in the Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1:1 which outlines the four new years in the Jewish calendar. Tu Bishvat is ...
Why Tu b'Shvat Needs to be More Than a Birthday for Trees

Why Tu b’Shvat Needs to be More Than a Birthday for Trees

Rabbi Jonathan Bernhard encourages us to recommit to caring for our world and to see Tu b’Shvat as more than the “birthday for the trees.
Prayer In Honor of Martin Luther King Day

Prayer in Honor of Martin Luther King Day

A prayer in honor of Martin Luther King Day, commemorating what Dr. King stood for and about, learning from his ever-effective words.
Responsive Reading From MLK’s Words

A Responsive Reading From MLK’s Words

A responsive reading from the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., put together by Rabbi A. Nathan Abramowitz.
Conversation with Martin Luther King at 1968 RA Convention

Conversation with Martin Luther King at 1968 RA Convention

At the 1968 Rabbinical Assembly convention, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to assembled rabbis concerning how they can fight for justice.
The Weird and Wacky World of Kosher for Passover

The Weird and Wacky World of Kosher for Passover

The weird and wacky world of keeping Kosher for Passover is confusing and overwhelming, especially when you're new to it. Start here!
This is the Bread of Affliction

This is the Bread of Affliction

This is the bread of affliction: Matzah adorns our Seder plates and nourishes our souls, as well—this food is fulfilling.
The Art of Assimilating Wisely

The Art of Assimilating Wisely

Hanukkah—when we read about the Maccabees resisting assimilation and Joseph embracing it—is a time to look at the art of assimilation wisely.
Elevating in Sanctity

Elevating in Sanctity

Elevating in sanctity the celebration of Hanukah, means lighting one more candle each night. What else can we learn from this?
My Good Mensches, We Are Modern Maccabees

My Good Mensches, We Are Modern Maccabees

We are the Maccabees of our modern time and we have the responsibility to keep the Ner Tamid lit for another generation.
Jewish Pride Guides My Actions

Jewish Pride Guides My Actions

From a love of Judaism and Jewish history, my Jewish pride guides my actions, both public and private, and defines my sense of self.
How to Forgive

How to Forgive (Kol Nidrei)

When the time of Yom Kippur is upon us, we talk a lot about forgiveness. Saying "sorry" is easy—how do we forgive?
Netzach and Hod

Netzach and Hod (Rosh Hashanah)

Rabbi Friedson explains the middot—soul traits—of netzach and hod and relates the required tenacity and glory to this time of year.
Hope is a Rope

Hope is a Rope (Rosh Hashanah)

We learn from Rabbi Friedson to keep our hope in mind for this next year. Our hope is a rope, just as strong and tenacious.
Non-Fasting Sh"tz on Yom Kippur

Non-Fasting Sh”tz on Yom Kippur

When should we use a non-fasting sh"tz on Yom Kippur? This CJLS teshuvah, originally written by Rabbi Gail Labovitz, explains.
How to Keep Your Lulav From Getting Gross

How to Keep Your Lulav From Getting Gross

How to Take Care of Your Lulav and Etrog. Lulavim and Etrogim, like all perishables, need to be kept in a cool place and treated ...

How to Shake the Lulav and Etrog

Shaking the Lulav and Etrog is a core ritual for Sukkot. This guide describes how to shake it and what blessing to recite.
Shemini Atzeret, Demystified

Shemini Atzeret, Demystified

What is Shemini Atzeret and how is it connected to Sukkot? "Shemini Atzeret, Demystified" explains all of that and more.
What is the holiday of Sigd?

What is the holiday of Sigd?

Sigd is holiday now observed 50 days after Yom Kippur that celebrates a commitment to Torah and Jewish life.
Remembering Our Loved Ones Before Us

Remembering Our Loved Ones Before Us

When our loved ones die, who remembers those they remembered? Here's a way to remember all of those that came before us.

How to recite Kiddush on Rosh Hashanah (even on Shabbat)

On Rosh Hashanah, we recite a special kiddush blessing that marks the moment. On Shabbat and Saturday nights, there are special inclusions.
What Can I Expect at My First Rosh Hashanah Services?

What Can I Expect at My First Rosh Hashanah Services?

The intensity of Rosh Hashanah can be intimidating; read this guide to get to know what to expect at services on our New Year.
When the Holidays Are Hard

When the Holidays Are Hard

Everyone celebrates Rosh Hashanah differently, but sometimes, the holidays are hard. What can we do when this is true?
The Discomfort of Yom Kippur

The Discomfort of Yom Kippur

As we discuss our traditions and requirements on Yom Kippur, we encounter discomforts that allow us to think about the past year.
What Do People Think About While Praying?

What Do People Think About While Praying?

While Judaism tells us various ways to pray, we are not told what to think: Here are three different takes on the subject.
Mourning: A Rabbi's Own Perspective

Mourning: A Rabbi’s Own Perspective

A rabbi, familiar with leading others through the process of mourning, goes through the same. Rabbi David Baum remembers his mother.
5 Kavanot for Elul

5 Kavanot for Elul

Here are 5 kavanot, intentions, for the days and weeks of Elul, approaching the Holy Days. This includes poems, books, and self-reflection.
What Am I Afraid Of?

What Am I Afraid Of?

As we continue the work of Elul, examining the words of Psalm 27 can teach us about going beyond the inner voices and what we ...
Celebrating the High Holy Days From Home

Celebrating the High Holy Days From Home

Celebrating the high holy days from home gives us ample opportunity to bring the sacred even further into our lives.
Tu B'av: A Day For Joyous Love

Tu B’av: A Day For Joyous Love

Tu B'av, a minor summer holiday following Tisha B'av commemorates joyous events in Jewish history and celebrates love.
The Book of Lamentations: Ten Responses to Tragedy & Grief

The Book of Lamentations: Ten Responses to Tragedy & Grief

Explore these ten responses that the Book of Lamentations presents to deal with tragedy and grief. View Tishah B'av through these responses.
Ensuring the Wall Stands Firm

Ensuring the Wall Stands Firm

Tishah B'av reminds us to "be active, even proactive," to ensure the walls of our lives stand firm, just as our ancestors did.
Bringing Juneteenth onto the Bimah

Bringing Juneteenth onto the Bimah

Bringing Juneteenth into synagogues signifies that Black Jews are not a footnote in the Jewish story but core parts of our communities.
Fatherhood as a Jewish Stay-at-Home Dad

Fatherhood as a Jewish Stay-at-Home Dad

Fatherhood has been a journey of obligation, an exploration of identity, and an opportunity to experience life through my child's eyes.

An En-Dairying Holiday: The Custom of Enjoying Milk Meals on Shavuot

While the original reason for consuming milk meals on Shavuot has likely been lost, many theories and interpretations remain.
What is Healthy Jewish Pride?

What is Healthy Jewish Pride?

What is healthy Jewish pride? While exploring the past, present, and future of Chanukah, Rabbi Bernat-Kunin proposes a new home ritual.

Fasting While Ill

It is considered forbidden to fast on fast days if injurious to one’s health, for the sake of performing positive commandments.

When Using Tribal Distinctions, How Might Women Be Called Up for Aliyot?

While writing a teshuvah on changing our language for aliyot to kohenet from bat kohen, Rabbi David J Fine, PhD, reflects on egalitarianism.
The 49-Day Omer Challenge

The 49-Day Omer Challenge

Exploring the mitzvah of counting the omer as a practice of (good) habit formation-- a 49 day omer challenge.
Yachatz Brokenness and Wholeness

Yachatz: Brokenness and Wholeness

One explanation offered by the Sages for Yachatz in the seder is that it helps promote making the world less broken, if not completely whole.
Climate Disruption and Passover

Climate Disruption and Passover

Let’s do more than remember our refugee origin story and include how climate change and disruption are leading to new refugees.
Mujaddara on Passover

Mujaddara on Passover

How my family created and passed down cultural traditions, and how the Conservative Teshuvah on Kitniyot impacts our life outside the academy.
Why Is Diversity Important at the Passover Seder?

Why Is Diversity Important at the Passover Seder?

This is why I think my family's tradition of inviting a non-Jew each year to the Passover seder is important.
When Can a Passover Seder Start Early?

When Can a Passover Seder Start Early? Other Festivals?

When is the earliest time that we can begin observing Jewish festivals, on first or second day of Yom Tov, in particular, the Passover seder?
Why I Love Hamentaschen

Why I Love Hamentaschen

Making hamentaschen has been a powerful tradition for me throughout my entire life and brings me tremendous joy.

Purim: Embracing the Unconventional

Purim celebrates unexpected heroes as role models. Those heroes, Esther and Mordechai encourage us to be our full selves.
A Guide To Your First Passover Seder

A Guide To Hosting Your First Passover Seder

It can be daunting to prepare for your first seder. We've put together a collection of great posts that will help you get started.
How can I celebrate Rosh Hodesh?

How can I celebrate Rosh Hodesh?

Rosh Hodesh is less hierarchical and more open to creative interpretation than most Jewish occasions/events. The possibilities are endless.
The Four Mitzvot of Purim

The Four Mitzvot of Purim

Purim has something for everyone. In celebrating the Purim, our tradition outlines four special mitzvot for the holiday.
Special Shabbats leading up to Purim and Passover

What are the Special Sabbaths Before Purim and Passover?

A series of special Shabbatot with special Torah readings precede Purim and Passover.
Megillah scroll celebrating Purim in Synagogue

Celebrating Purim in Synagogue

Tradition dictates that Purim be observed on the fourteenth day of Adar, and begins with the recitation of the regular evening service.
Is Alcohol the best way to celebrate Purim?

Is Alcohol the best way to celebrate Purim?

According to a well-known custom, drinking – and drinking to excess – on Purim is required for Jews celebrating the holiday. What is the origin ...
Festivities and food on Purim

Festivities, Food, and Mitzvot on Purim

Purim is celebrated with days of feasting and merrymaking, and occasion for sending gifts to one another and gifts for the poor.
What is Purim and When is it Celebrated?

What is Purim and When is it Celebrated?

Purim is about the struggle of identity against assimilation, the value of tolerance, and to live proudly as Jews in an ocean of non-Jews.
The Secrets of Tu Bishvat

The Secrets of Tu Bishvat

A Tu Bishvat secret: If managed carefully, the seven species can go a long way to keeping a person fed for a whole year.
Blurry orchard with the words What is tu bishvat?

What is Tu Bishvat?

Tu Bishvat, the new year for Trees, can remind us that the world is God’s sacred gift to humanity, a precious legacy entrusted to our ...
The Mystery of “Eyn Keloheinu”

The Mystery of “Eyn Keloheinu”

What is the mystery of Eyn Keloheinu? How do we unravel the contradiction that seems to be present within this prayer?
Miracles: The Power of One Letter

Miracles: The Power of One Letter

Conservative/Masorti prayer books include the Hebrew letter "vav" in the blessing for the miracle of Hanukkah. What is its secret?
DIY Hanukkah and the Potato Menorah

DIY Hanukkah and the Potato Menorah

DIY Hanukkah: My custom of making a potato menorah and why DIY Judaica can provide a crucial connection to Judaism.
Liturgy on Ḥanukkah

Liturgical Changes on Hanukkah

Liturgy on Hanukkah includes Hallel and additions to the Amidah. There are also special Torah readings, maftirs, and haftarot.
Songs for Hanukkah

Songs for Hanukkah

Hanukkah songs include those that follow candle lighting, as well as S'vivon sov sov sov, Hanukkah O'Hanukkah, and Neir Li.
The Menorah

What is The Menorah?

The central mitzvah of Ḥanukkah is the lighting of the menorah at home and in the synagogue. This brings light to the darker winter months. ...
Customs for Hanukkah

Customs for Hanukkah

Beyond lighting the menorah, Hanukkah customs include special foods, the dreidel and gift-giving, especially when spending time with family.
Hanukkah Candle Lighting

How to light the Hanukkah Candles

Read here for the procedure for lighting candles for Hanukkah. This includes the blessings, song ideas, and order for lighting candles.
Hanukkah: History and Context

Hanukkah: History and Context

What is Hanukkah's historical context? What does it actually commemorate? Who was Judah and the Maccabees?
The Arba•ah Minim

Lulav and Etrog: The Four Species

Besides dwelling in a sukkah, the other significant mitzvah of Sukkot is the taking up of the arba·ah minim, literally “the four species.”
Sukkot at Home

Sukkot at Home

While celebrating Sukkot at home, rituals include lighting candles, sitting in the sukkah, and customs related to the sukkah.
Sukkot in the Synagogue

Sukkot in the Synagogue

On the mornings of Sukkot, Shacharit and Musaf follow the standard festival format. The lulav and etrog should be shaken.
Intermediate Days of Sukkot

Intermediate Days of Sukkot

The intermediate days of Sukkot, the weekdays, combine some features of festival days and normal weekdays to create wholly unique day.
Hoshana Rabbah

Hoshana Rabbah

Although the fifth intermediate day of Sukkot is known as Hoshana Rabbah, it is technically just the last day of ḥol ha-mo·eid.
Sh'mini Atzeret

What is Sh’mini Atzeret?

The final two days of Sukkot are a totally separate holiday called Sh'mini Atzeret. Liturgy includes Yizkor and the prayer for rain.
Simḥat Torah

What is Simhat Torah?

Simḥat Torah means “the joy of Torah” and is the name for the day on which the annual cycle of Torah readings begins and ends. ...
Sh'mini Atzeret Candle Lighting

Sh’mini Atzeret Candle Lighting

The laws for lighting candles on Sh’mini Atzeret are similar to those for Shabbat. These laws also apply to Simḥat Torah.
Rituals of Sukkot

Rituals of Sukkot

Sukkot, one of the shalosh r’galim, the three pilgrimage festivals is celebrated five days after Yom Kippur.
The Sukkah

The Sukkah

The sukkah for Sukkot has some very basic requirements, but beyond these rules its construction is left to one’s imagination and creativity.
Sukkot Candle Lighting

Sukkot Candle Lighting

The laws for lighting candles on Sukkot are almost identical to the laws for Shabbat candle lighting, with the exception of covering eyes.
Ne'ilah

Ne’ilah

Ne’ilah is an additional service, recited only at the conclusion of Yom Kippur. It signifies the sealing of the Book of Life.
Minḥah on Yom Kippur

Minḥah on Yom Kippur

Minhah, the Afternoon Service, begins with the Torah service, including selections from Leviticus and the haftarah on the Book of Jonah.
Yom Kippur Musaf Service

Yom Kippur Musaf Service

The Yom Kippur Musaf Service includes two services: the Avodah service and the Martyrology service. Musaf follows Yizkor and Torah reading.
Yom Kippur Candle Lighting

Yom Kippur Candle Lighting

Following the Yom Kippur meal, candles are lit in a similar fashion to those lit on Rosh Hashanah. A Yizkor candle is also lit.
Yom Kippur Evening Service

Yom Kippur Evening Service

Maariv, the evening service, following Kol Nidrei on Erev Yom Kippur, is similar in many ways to daily Maariv but has notable differences.
Yom Kippur Morning Services

Yom Kippur Morning Services

The Yom Kippur morning service is similar to Rosh Hashanah, with the exception of the Amidah and the selections for the Torah service.
Erev Yom Kippur and the Customs Preceding It

Erev Yom Kippur and the Customs Preceding It

Preparations on Erev Yom Kippur are intrinsic to the awe-inspiring observance of the day: a special meal, candle lighting, and charity.
Kol Nidrei and Being Imperfect Together

Kol Nidrei and Being Imperfect Together

Yom Kippur begins with the dramatic Kol Nidrei service, intended to annul vows made between yourself and God.
Yom Kippur Yizkor Service

Yom Kippur Yizkor Service

The Memorial Service, Yizkor, is recited on Yom Kippur, one of four times throughout the year, to remember loved ones and Jewish martyrs.
Shemini Atzeret: Chilling with God

Shemini Atzeret: Chilling with God

Shemini Atzeret is a holiday that has left Jews puzzled for generations, but it's really about our intimate relationship with God.
Jewish Halloween: Hoshana Rabbah

Jewish Halloween: Hoshana Rabbah

Rather than prohibit Halloween (and turn Jewish kids off), we have an opportunity to talk about Hoshana Rabbah and our heritage of ghost stories.
What’s Water Got to Do With It?

What’s Water Got to Do With It?

How does the imagery of water and rain connect Shemini Atzreet and Simchat Torah? What can we learn from this?
Just the Tip of the Etrog

Just the Tip of the Etrog

Reflecting on the idea that a tiny, fragile protuberance can make an entire ritual object unfit for use is absurd. Here's what it teaches us.
What Does it Mean to Dwell in the Sukkah?

What Does it Mean to Dwell in the Sukkah?

Living in the Sukkah can mean just living in an outdoor hut for a week, but it can also bring so much more meaning into ...
Navigating Yom Kippur with Toddlers and Young Children

Navigating Yom Kippur with Toddlers and Young Children

Yom Kippur with young children can be a challenge. Here are some tips for making the holiday meaningful for them and for you.
Why Do We Read Jonah On Yom Kippur?

Why Do We Read Jonah On Yom Kippur?

With lessons on failure, the value of admitting our mistakes, and allowing ourselves and others to apologize, the Book of Jonah has much to teach ...