When you hear Jewish Holidays, what does it trigger in your mind? For some Jews, it means family gatherings that turned into miserable evenings. For others, it means sacred times to connect with family and with the Creator.
Going through the calendar, here is a list:
Rosh Hashana,New Year,first of Tishrei, the day man was created
Succos, the festival of booths,
Chol Hamoed Succos, the intermediate days of Succos,
Hoshana Rabba, part of Chol Hamoed Succos,
Shemini Atzeret, Festival when offerings were brought,
Simchas Torah, the day we begin anew the reading of the Torah,
Rosh Chodesh Nisan, a new month,
Pesach, 8 day Festival commemorating the exodus from Egypt,
Sefiras HaOmer, counting for 49 days,
Rosh Chodesh Iyar, a new month,
Lag B'Omer, a day we celebrate the cessation of an epidemic,
Rosh Chodesh Sivan, a new month,
Shavuos, Festival to celebrate the giving of the Torah at Sinai,
Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, a new month,
17th of Tammuz, fast day commemorating sin of Golden Calf,
Three Weeks, preceding Tisha B'Av,
Rosh Chodesh Av, a new month,
Tisha B'Av, Fast Day commemorating the destruction of the Temples,
Tu B'Av, 40 days before Rosh Hashana ,
Rosh Chodesh Elul,leading up to the New Year.
Most people know about Chanukah, the time of the Re-Dedication of the Second Temple, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Many know about Passover. Some know about Purim, the time when the Jews were saved from death in Persia through Queen Esther. In addition, there are Shavuos, when the Torah was given at Mount Sinai, Succos, the festival of booths, Hoshana Rabba, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah, the day when we begin to read again the Torah. There are other holidays as well, including Tu B'Shevat, the new year of the trees and Tisha B'Av, the saddest of all days, the anniversary of the destruction of both the temple of King Solomon and the destruction of the second temple.
Part of understanding the significance of holidays in Judaism is to have a context within Jewish history of their origins:
Every week we have the holiday of the Sabbath (Shabbat). This is a day of rest. Shabbat is the most important holiday that we have - Yom Kippur is considered higher only because it is the Sabbath of Sabbaths.
Learning about the Jewish holidays deepens our appreciation for our heritage, for our connection to each other, and for our connection to the Creator. For Judaism in a nutshell, you may like this: Holidays: Judaism in a Nutshell