Shavuot, or the Festival of Weeks marks 7 weeks since the conclusion of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt, when the Torah and the Ten Commandments were received at Mount Sinai. There are a number of customs associated with the celebration of Shavuot, which can be enumerated using the mneumonic of the Hebrew word acharit (אחרית, “last”). These include the reading of a liturgical poem and from the Book of Ruth, the consumption of dairy foods (like cheesecake, blitzes, and kreplach), the decoration of homes with flowers or greenery, and all-night Torah study. Read more about the meaning of Shavuot and its traditions.
This year, Shavuot begins the evening of Tuesday May 30th and end the evening of Thursday June 1st. Most library locations will close at 2 p.m. Tuesday 5/30 and reopen Friday 6/2.
Yom Kippur aka The Day of Atonement: this represents the time when Jews will have their fate decided. How much money will be earned for the year, what a person’s health will be, as well whatever is supposed to happen to a person in their life during the year. People of course pray that everything that will happen should be good for the person.
I should note that on this occasion, the prayers are only directed between people and G-d, not between people and other people. Any “offense” that take place between people is not covered by Yom Kippur. The individuals involved need to ask for pardon from each other.
Yom Kippur is the end of this Holy time of year, which began with Rosh Hashanah. This is a ten day period when forgiveness is asked from G-d as well as from “man”. As it says in the Liturgy, on Rosh Hashanah G-d writes down what will be and on Yom Kippur that decree is sealed.
This year, Yom Kippur will begin the evening of Tuesday October 11th and conclude the evening of Wednesday the 12th.
The observation of Purim begins the evening of March 24th through March 25th.
Purim is a holiday that represents a tangible victory over an enemy. Many things are done to commemorate this victory. The Book of Esther is read both on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. People go around in costume to show their happiness, a festive meal is eaten, and charity is given to help those who otherwise couldn’t celebrate this occasion. People give out packages of food to friends (usually in the form of a dessert) to celebrate comradery.
The Lander College Library library has a clock posted in the wall that is frequently 15 minutes slow. It ticks slower than it should and needs to be reset every now and then. To me, this sometimes suggests a magical realm of the library where time can be transcended noetically, in one’s mind. Continue reading →
On February 4th of this year, Jews all over the world will eat fruit. Usually it is dried fruit, such as dried apples or pineapple, sometimes even dates, figs, or dried pear. Many purchase carob, known as bokser in Yiddish. My personal favorite was always the bright orange dried papaya. We didn’t really eat it otherwise and it tasted the best out of all the options in the little “pekeleh” (package) that we would get in school. I never really liked the carob; it was always so dry and chewy, kind of like fruit jerky. But there we were, in the middle of winter, eating dried fruit to celebrate the birthday of the trees, as it says in the folk song we learned: “Tu B’Shevat Higiah, Chag La’Ilanot” (The fifteenth day of the month of Shevat has come, birthday (or holiday) of the trees). Continue reading →