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What Jewish Year?
The Jewish year is an annual cycle of observances and celebrations observed the world over by people of the Jewish faith. The Hebrew calendar is composed of 12 lunar months, with each month beginning on a new moon and ending with the following new moon. The Jewish year begins in the fall, Rosh Hashanah, and ends in the early summer, Shavuot. The number of days in a Jewish year can range from 353 to 385, with the length determined by the occurrence of certain holidays and the intercalation of an extra month.
As a distinct calendar and set of holidays, the Jewish year contains some of the most sacred and meaningful holidays for the Jewish community. Chief among these is Rosh Hashanah, which marks the beginning of the Jewish year and marks the creation of the world. This is celebrated with fasting, repentance and the blowing of the shofar; a ram’s horn that is blown in synagogue and is said to be a call to repentance and renewal.
Other important observances in the Jewish year include Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Passover, Lag BaOmer, and Shavuot. Yom Kippur is the holiest of the holidays, known as the Day of Atonement, during which it is believed that the fate of the individual is written in the “Book of Life.” Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, is a joyous holiday that celebrates the harvest, while Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple. Passover is the celebration of the freedom of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, and Lag BaOmer is a festive holiday where bonfires are lit and special observances are made. Shavuot is the final holiday of the Jewish year and celebrates the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
The celebration of the Jewish year is more than just a series of holidays; it is a reflection of the deep-rooted traditions and culture of the Jewish people. It is a way of paying homage to the past, while also looking forward with hope and promise to the future. As such, the Jewish year is a time of reconnection and renewal, bringing us together through shared beliefs and practices. Through this, we carry our families and traditions into the next generation, creating a bridge between our past and our future.