Jewish holidays are, in the words of Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, “the master code of Judaism.” The primary teachings of Judaism are embedded in their messages: slavery and freedom, covenant with God, sin and the possibility of renewal, the celebration of life, assimilation and Jewish survival, the problem of evil, work and rest, etc.
By understanding the holidays, one can review Jewish history, learn basic Jewish beliefs and values and encounter classic Jewish texts. But more than that, the Jewish holidays are a key to discovering the inner sanctum of this 4000 year old Jewish tradition. The person who lives their weekly, monthly and yearly rhythms holds the heart of the faith in his/her hands.
The sections below contain what we hope will be only the beginning of your exploration of the beauty and meaning of Jewish holidays. For additional resources, check out the attached articles or websites in each section, visit the Beth El library or contact one of the rabbis.
(Note: the introductions to many of the sections below are based on chapters in Rabbi Wayne Dosick’s book, “Living Judaism: The Complete Guide to Jewish Belief, Tradition and Practice.” This is just one of many books that contain valuable information on Jewish holidays.)