A glimpse into Jewish holidays


Madelyn Rappaport

Menorahs are the center piece of Hanukkah.

There are numerous holidays celebrated by those of the Jewish faith. The most notable is Hanukkah, which is celebrated this year from Dec. 18 to Dec. 26. Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration where one candle is lit on the menorah each of the eight days in honor of an oil lamp that stayed lit for eight days against all odds.
My family has always gotten together on the last day of Hanukkah at my grandparents’ house. They have been some of my fondest memories, spending quality time and rejoicing with local and out-of-state family all in one place.
Purim is celebrated in March and honors the rescue of Jews in Ancient Persia by the evil Haman. Queen Esther and Mordechai are cheered for while Haman is booed during the retelling of this story each year.
This was always a fun holiday as everyone is given noise makers for the retelling of the story of Queen Esther’s heroism and got to make noise every time they hear the name Haman.
Passover, also known as Pesach, happens in April and is an eight-day festival honoring the mass exodus of Jews from Egypt where they were slaves. A dinner, known as a seder, is held where the story is retold and includes the ten plagues.
For Passover, a formal dinner was always held at my grandparents’ house. Some of the best food I’ve ever had was eaten during Passover, as well as the importance of remembering the lives of our ancestors who escaped Egypt.
Yom Kippur, held in October, marks the end of a 10-day fast and constant prayer. This is the holiest day of the Jewish religion as it is for atonement and repentance. The famous shofar is blown and sounds to signal the end of the high holiday.
This was one of the more difficult holidays, as it is meant to help you to remember what you’ve done over the year and how you should spend your next year. The fasting really puts it into perspective because only prayer is supposed to pass through your lips. When we all break the fast at our Synagogue, it is always such a meaningful time.
While Hanukkah is the most popular Jewish holiday, there are many more that are all full of meaning. As with all religions, the holidays are a time of reflection.