High Holy Days and Festivals
September 12, 2020 – 8:00 PM
23 Elul 5780
Coming from the Hebrew word for “forgiveness” and a liturgical poem whose subject is a plea for the forgiveness of sins, Selichot is a service of penitential prayers that are recited on all fast days, periods of special intercession and during the penitential season, which begins before Rosh Hashanah and concludes with Yom Kippur.
September 18 & 19, 2020
1 Tishrei 5780 – 2 Tishrei 5781
Rosh Hashanah is both a joyous time and a period of serious reflection. While the shofar’s blast marks the start of the New Year, it also marks the time for penitence that culminates on Yom Kippur.
September 27 & 28, 2020
10 & 11 Tishrei 5781
In preparation for Yom Kippur, it is customary for Jews to seek forgiveness from friends and relatives. Yom Kippur is also a time for reflection and remembrance; at Temple Emanu-El , we honor the blessed memory of our member’s relatives by reading their names during the Yom Kippur memorial service.
October 13 & 14, 2019
14 & 15 Tishrei 5780
Tracing its roots to ancient Hebrew ceremonies that celebrate a bountiful fall harvest, Sukkot has also become a festival that celebrates and commemorates the protection afforded the Israelites throughout their wanderings in the wilderness. At Emanu-El, this celebration is primarily marked by the lush two-story sukkah that stands on the bimah in our 5th Avenue Sanctuary.
Sh’mini Atzeret/Simchat Torah
October 20 & 21, 2019
21 & 22 Tishrei 5780
Sh’mini Atzeret is a solemn time for reflecting on the previous days of Sukkot. It is also one of the four times during the year when we mourn together (Yizkor) and recite the memorial prayers in remembrance of those whom we have loved and lost. Simchat Torah is a joyful celebration, rejoicing in the law and the completion of the fifth and final book of the Torah, Deuteronomy, and starting at the beginning, Genesis.
December 22 to 30, 2019
24 Kislev – 2 Tevet 5780
Named for the Hebrew word for “dedication,” Chanukah commemorates the Maccabees’ defeat of the Syrians, which led to liberation of the Jews and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C.E. Chanukah also is known as the “Festival of Lights” because of the custom of lighting candles over the course of 8 days, one candle each day, on non-branched Chanukah menorah.
March 9 & 10, 2020
14 & 15 Adar II 5780
The Purim story is told in the Scroll of Esther (M’gillat Esther), named for a Jewish woman who becomes Queen of Persia and puts herself in jeopardy by approaching the king without being summoned, in an attempt to save her fellow Jews from extermination. Purim at Emanu-El is celebrated with a spirited reading of the Megillah by our clergy for adult members, a shpiel and carnival for families the following day, and plenty of hamantaschen.
April 8 to 15, 2020
14 – 22 Nissan 5780
The name “Passover” derives from Moses’ promise that God would “pass over” the homes of Israelites on the evening when firstborn Egyptians were to be slain (Exodus 12:23). One of the major elements of Passover is the seder (meaning “order”), a ritual dinner with a prescribed order of prayers, readings and songs that are found in a special book called the Haggadah. Reform Jews celebrate Passover for seven days.
May 28 & 29, 2020
4 & 5 Sivan 5780
From the Hebrew word for “weeks,” Shavuot is a reference to the seven weeks it took for the Jews to travel from Egypt to the foot of Mount Sinai and the declaration of the 50th day as a holy convocation. It is customary on Shavuot to read the section of the Torah that defines the Ten Commandments, as well as the Book of Ruth, and passages from Psalms. Shavuot also is one of the four times during the year when we mourn together (Yizkor) and recite the memorial prayers in remembrance of those whom we have loved and lost.