After the solemnity of the High Holy Days, we joyfully celebrate the Festival of Booths, Sukkot, outside on our beautiful patio set deep in the woods.
Merely a week later, the craziness and pandemonium overtakes our sanctuary as our band leads us into Simchat Torah. We dance around the synagogue holding our sacred scrolls and unroll the entire Torah, as before our very eyes, the last paragraph of Deuteronomy is read followed by the first section of Genesis.
We have a variety of activities to prepare for and celebrate Chanukah. From programs specifically for our children, to cooking latkes and making applesauce, to our congregational dinner and Chanukah service where everyone brings a personal Menorah from home for lighting.
Tu BiSh’vat is often called the Jewish Arbor Day. Some people hold a Tu BiSh’vat Seder in which they incorporate the seven species – the sheva minim – of food: wheat and barley, grapes and pomegranates, figs and dates and olives. It is also traditional to plant trees in Israel on Tu BiSh’vat in memory of or in honor of loved ones.
Purim is wild at Temple Emanuel Sinai! We pride ourselves on our “wicked good” PurimSpiels, examples inlcude Chozen and The Wizard of Pers-Oz. The cast is made up of members of all ages, from 9 to 97, and of course we have a Purim Carnival led by our teenagers.
We celebrate Passover as a community with a 2nd night Seder using the Reform Movement Haggadah, Sharing the Journey, With music, comedy, and Visual T’filah, we laugh and sing while we experience the Exodus from Egypt as if we were actually there.
Our Yom HaShoah commemoration is a community-wide event for all of Central Massachusetts which varies every year. An innovative program is integrated within a solemn service, and our children are honored through a scholarship art and essay contest.
Although we don’t stay up all night as is traditional for the evening of Shavuot, we do delve deeply into discussion about the 10 Commandments and the Torah as they relate to our 21st century lives. Around this time, we are honored by our Confirmands who lead us in worship, the culmination of their advanced study. These students epitomize the values of Torah, and they remind us of our future and purpose as a Jewish Community.
For each of the major three festivals – Sukkot/Simchat Torah, Pesach (Passover), and Shavuot – we come together as a congregation at a Yizkor (Memorial) Service to remember our loved ones who have died. These are especially moving services as we take comfort in our traditional liturgy and are inspired by modern readings and music.
Tisha B’av can be a complicated holiday for Reform Jews as we remember and mourn the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Temples. We also acknowledge the many tragedies that happened to the Jewish People throughout history and the lives lost in them. At Temple Emanuel Sinai, we mourn through a creative service that acknowledges these events and also draws parallels to our current world struggles.
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