Because the secular and Jewish calendars are different, Jewish holidays don’t fall on the same date each year. Some find identifying the secular date of a Jewish holiday to be complicated. We'll be happy to furnish you with Jewish calendars where the relevant dates are highlighted.
We're here to help: let us know how we can assist you! Please contact your local Chabad rabbi or fill out the above form for any holiday materials or assistance.
These are five major Jewish holidays that are most important to be aware of:
1. Rosh Hashana
Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the day that G-d created Adam, the first human. It is celebrated for two days during September or October.
Your birthday is the day G-d declares that you matter. A birthday is, therefore, an excellent time to reflect on the direction of your life and on your personal purpose. Rosh Hashanah, the birthday of humanity, is a time for us all to engage in this kind of introspection. To set the tone for such reflection, we sound a ram’s horn, called a shofar in Hebrew. The music produced by this horn, which sounds somewhat like an emotional cry, inspires a sense of remorse for inappropriate behaviors and a commitment to improving those aspects of our lives that require improvement.
On Rosh Hashanah, many Jewish patients appreciate hearing the sound of the shofar. If you would like a Rabbi to visit you to sound the shofar, please fill out the form at the top of the page.
2. Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur is the Jewish holiday of atonement. It is a one-day holiday celebrated eight days after Rosh Hashanah.
In the Jewish tradition, G-d forgives our sins on this day, and many Jews spend this day in prayer at the synagogue. The Torah calls for Jews to fast on this day to set a tone of humble submission, a mind-set of self-examination, and an atmosphere of somber repentance.
In the hospital, some Jewish patients might want to fast for (a portion of ) the day. Have a conversation with your doctor several days before Yom Kippur to address any limitations or expectations.
3. Sukkot (Sukkos)
Sukkos is a Jewish holiday of gratitude, celebrated for seven days (excluding Shemini Atseres and Simchas Torah). It takes place five days after Yom Kippur.
During Sukkos, which means “booths,” Jews eat their meals in outdoor booths, covered by foliage, to commemorate and thank G-d for the canopy of clouds that enveloped our ancestors for forty years as they traveled through the desert on their way from Egypt to Israel. One of the rituals that Jews perform during this holiday is the waving of four plant kinds: we hold a citron, a palm branch, a myrtle branch, and a willow branch, and wave them briefly in each direction. This ritual highlights how G-d led the Jews from the desert, a place where these four kinds could not grow, to the Land of Israel, where these four types of plants were in abundance.
4. Chanukah (Hannukah)
Chanukah is an eight-day holiday that occurs in November or December, celebrating the victory of the Jews against the Syrian-Greeks during the second century BCE.
When the Jews won their religious freedom, they proceeded to rededicate the Temple. Miraculously, a single cruse of oil fueled the flames of the menorah for eight days and nights.21 To commemorate these miracles, Jews light candles during the eight evenings of Chanukah. The candles, displayed in windows or doorways, proclaim that a little bit of light can illuminate a great deal of darkness. They proclaim that religious freedom cannot be suppressed, and no matter how large the obstacle, freedom will always prevail.
Although Shabbos candles can be lit with battery-operated lights, the Chanukah lights can only be lit with an actual candle. Some hospitals have a safe-room, such as the chapel, where a menorah can be lit for a certain amount of time.
Passover is an eight-day holiday, occurring usually in April.
It commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egyptian bondage in 1313 BCE. This holiday celebrates human freedom from all forms of tyranny—freedom from external enslavement to others and freedom from internal enslavement to unhealthy impulses. Many Jews gather on the first and second evenings of Passover for a ritual meal called a seder.
Seder kits are available for patients to have a full Passover experience in the hospital. Contact your local Chabad rabbi or complete the form above to request a kit.