The Three Best-Known Jewish Holidays

by Rabbi Leib Tropper

Those who adhere to the Jewish faith recognize a host of religious holidays throughout the year. Some of these holidays, such as Hanukkah and Yom Kippur, are commonly known by those outside the faith, while others are considered more obscure by the general populace. Because the Jewish day begins and ends at sunset rather than midnight, holidays begin on the evening before the designated date. Also, because the Jewish calendar differs from most modern calendars, holidays do not begin and end on the same day of the popular Western world calendar year to year. Rabbi Leib Tropper has been an educator within his faith for more than 30 years and shares his insights into three of the better-known Jewish holy observances.

1. Pesach

Commonly known as Passover in English, Pesach begins on the 15th day of Nisan. This is one of the best-known and most widely celebrated Jewish holidays. Primarily, Pesach memorializes the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, ending hundreds of years of slavery. A principal custom throughout this holiday is the avoidance of leaven products, paying homage to Jews who did not have enough time to allow their bread to rise as they hurriedly left Egypt.

2. Rosh Hashanah

One of the most revered holidays of the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashanah marks the first and second days of the Jewish new year. Rosh Hashanah is considered a solemn holiday and is said to be the day on which the entire world is judged for the next year. Associated with this holiday is the consumption of apples with honey in a ritual that symbolizes the hope of a sweet coming year.

3. Yom Kippur

Considered to be the most important holiday of the year, Yom Kippur takes place on the 10th day of Tishri on the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur is translated to “Day of Atonement” and practitioners are expected to spend the day in prayer. The 25-hour period of Yom Kippur is considered a Sabbath and as such, work is not permitted and Jews are expected to fast. Other prohibitions include bathing, wearing cosmetics and wearing leather shoes.

Author Leib TropperAbout the author: Grandson of the late Rabbi Leib Forer, Rabbi Leib Tropper has studied the practices and traditions of the Jewish faith nearly his entire life. Early on in his career, Rabbi Tropper received the honor of four separate rabbinical ordinations during a five-year period. He now resides in New York.

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