Jewish Holidays, the Jewish Sabbath and the Believer
What are the Jewish Holidays?
The Jewish calendar has whole host of Jewish holidays! Jewish holidays fall into two general categories: those that permit work and those that do not. Starting at the beginning of the Jewish calendar the holidays which do not permit work are Rosh HaShannah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot (not the whole holiday), Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, Purim (work avoided), Passover (not the whole holiday), Shavuot and Tish'a B'Av. Jewish holidays in which work is permitted include Hanukkah, 10 Tevet, Tu B'Shevat, Lag B'Omer, and Tu B’Av. Each Jewish holiday has its own story, set of traditions and Jewish items of worship.
How can a Believer start to celebrate Jewish Holidays?
The best place to begin is the most popular and well known of the Jewish holidays: Rosh HaShannah, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah and Passover. These are the holidays in which most people begin to celebrate when exploring their Jewish Roots. To celebrate Jewish holidays first explore the meaning behind each holiday. Find out what event the holiday commemorates, the traditions of the holiday, what Jewish religious items are to be used for its observance and the importance of the holiday to your spiritual journey.
Once you have a better understanding of the holiday obtain the Jewish items you need to properly observe the occasion. For example, if you want to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover, you will need to have a Seder plate and a Kiddush cup. If you want to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah you will need a Hanukkah menorah and Hanukkah candles. To celebrate the High Holidays – Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur – you will need a shofar and a prayer shawl. While these Jewish items are not expressly necessary, they are important to completely and accurately celebrate Jewish holidays.
What is Shabbat?
Shabbat (shah-baht) is the Hebrew word for the Jewish Sabbath and is the most special day of the week. It is a time when all the pressures and commitments of modern life stop and the time is purely devoted to deepening the connection to G-d. Each week the Jewish Sabbath begins with nightfall on Friday and lasts until an hour after sunset on Saturday. While traditionally the Believer celebrates the Lord’s Day on Sunday, there is no reason some of the traditions of Shabbat cannot be incorporated into any celebration of G-d.
The customs surrounding the Jewish Sabbath are beautiful and spiritually fulfilling. Preparations need to be made before Shabbat begins. The table needs to be set with the following Jewish items: Two kosher Shabbat candles, a glass of Kosher wine should be poured in the Kiddush Cup and a Challah (the traditional Shabbat bread) needs to be covered with preferably a Challah cover.
The Jewish Sabbath is welcomed in with the Shabbat candle lighting . The Sabbath day is spent in rest with family and friends. Shabbat is concluded with the Havdallah ceremony. This requires a Havdallah Set, wine, spices (cloves work well) and a three-wicked Havdallah candle. For more about bringing in the Jewish Sabbath, Jewish items of worship and the Havdallah Ceremony please see this article.