Jewish Holidays


Deuteronomy 16:1-3 (ESV) “Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night. And you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the Lord your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place that the Lord will choose, to make his name dwell there. You shall eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction—for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste—that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt.”

Yom Kippur

The observance of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is commanded in Leviticus 16 and 23. This most holy day in the Jewish calendar is observed by “denying oneself,” which includes abstaining from food and drink. Without a temple for proper sacrifices, some Jewish people observe a ceremony ahead of Yom Kippur involving the sacrifice of a chicken. The fowl is swung counterclockwise around the head(s) of the participant(s), and the incantation is supposed to transfer the sins of the participant to the chicken: “This is my exchange, my substitute, my atonement. This rooster shall go to its death, but I shall go to a good, long life, and to peace.”

Sukkot Temporary Shelters

Leviticus 23:40-43 (NIV) “On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the LORD for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”

Sukkot Four Species

Nehemiah 8:14-15 (NIV) “They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: ‘Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make temporary shelters’—as it is written.”

Hanukkah/Feast of Dedication

The hanukiah is a Hanukkah menorah that has nine branches instead of the seven-branched candelabrum which was in the tabernacle and temple. One branch holds the shamash candle which is used to light the other eight candles over the course of the eight-day holiday. The holiday recalls the miracle during the time of the Maccabees when the one-day supply of oil for the temple menorah lasted for eight days.

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Related Websites

See also Jewish Life.

Jewish Holidays. Chabad.org is a website is written for Jewish people by Jewish people, making it a particularly helpful source of information. This page links to many others regarding the various Jewish holidays.

Pesach: Passover (Judaism 101). This page offers a fairly detailed overview of modern practice surrounding Passover.

Sukkot in Israel! A short video reflecting a Jewish perspective on Sukkot, including many clips of the festival being celebrated in Jerusalem.