Holidays Andregular Observances

What are the other great feasts of pilgrimage and remembrance?

The feast of Shavuot (“Weeks”) begins seven weeks after Passover. Originally coinciding with the wheat harvest, the Feast of Weeks recalls Israel’s spiritual harvest of the divine Law at Sinai. The feast occurs on the 6th of Sivan (a day longer outside Israel), the fiftieth day (pentecost in Greek) after Passover, marking the end of the “days of the omer” (“sheaf”) in reference to the ancient practice of bringing the first sheaves of barley as a Temple offering. The third of the great holidays is Sukkot, the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles. Five days after the Day of Atonement, from the 15th to the 23rd of Tishri (a day longer outside Israel, except in Reform congregations) Jews celebrate this harvest festival marking the end of the vintage season. Many families construct small symbolic structures in the backyard, recalling as they take their meals there how God sheltered the people through the wilderness of the Exodus. Along with Passover and Shavuot, this was a pilgrimage feast before the destruction of the Temple, when many traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate. Families bless four plants as symbols of unity in diversity. Holding in the left hand a citrus called the ethrog, and in the right a bound cluster of one palm, two willow, and three myrtle branches (together called the lulav), they make gestures of blessing and sing Hosanna, “Save us.”


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