About This Circle
Most first graders can tell you that October is the month of pumpkins, November the month of turkey, and February the month of chocolate and valentines. To be a member of a particular culture is to know viscerally the distinctive colors, images, tastes, songs and stories of each season of the year.
The Jewish year has its own sequence of tastes and songs and colors. The primary festivals are seven:
- Passover, season of birth, of new love, freedom and matzah.
- Shavuot, recalling a mountain in the desert on fire with the voice of God.
- Rosh Hashanah, the cry of the ram’s horn and apples and honey.
- Yom Kippur, day of fasting, purity and exaltation.
- Sukkot, magical meals under the stars in a richly decorated sukkah.
- Chanukah, mid-winter festival of light and latkes.
- Purim, marking the end of winter with masks, costumes, and hamentaschen.
The Jewish festivals are a symphony in food, in text, in symbol and in song, expressing with outrageous humor and awesome profundity every great idea and emotion of our religion. With the holidays and their sensory messages, we initiate our children into the Jewish culture, and each year we add a chapter to the book of our own Jewish life.
It takes courage and creativity to live by the rhythms of the Jewish year in a town with a small Jewish population. With good friends, however, it becomes not only possible but fun.
- Take Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur seriously as a time for self-examination
- Fast on Yom Kippur
- Build a sukkah and eat your meals in it
- Invite guests (Jewish and non-Jewish) to your sukkah
- Light the Chanukah menorah all eight nights
- Bake hamentaschen on Purim and give some to your friends
- Wear a costume to Temple on Purim
- Conduct your own Passover seder
- Stay up all night studying on Shavuot
- Plant a tree/garden on Tu B’Shvat
- Have a bonfire on Lag Baomer
- Acknowledge the Jewish festivals with candles and a special meal