Celebrating Jewish Heritage

Jewish communities from around the world get together to celebrate some very important religious events.

The Jewish High Holy Days are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and are followed by the Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah festivals.


To most Jews, these are five of the most important days in the calendar and going to a synagogue is an important part of them - working is prohibited. The Jewish High Holy Day period begins 30th Sept, with Rosh Hashanah and ends on 1st October with Simchat Torah. Rosh Hashanah is a time for reflection - people think of ways to do better over the coming year. Jews try to rectify mistakes made in the past and apologise to anyone they may have hurt.


The most important Holy Day is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which marks the end of ten days of repentance. It begins at nightfall on 8th October and ends at nightfall on 9th October. Yom Kippur is the most solemn day of the Jewish year and is a time of fasting and prayers. On this day, Jews won’t use mobile phones and/or take part in anything they enjoy.


Sukkot begins on 13th October until 20th October. It commemorates the temporary shelters which according to the Torah, the Israelites lived in during the wilderness. Many observant Jews build temporary housing during this time, with many not working. The first and last two days are festivals.


Shemini Atzeret follows immediately after the seventh day of Sukkot, taking place on 20-22 October. It’s a time to pray for rain and a good harvest for the coming year.


Simchat Torah takes place on both 21-22 October when the annual cycle of reading the sacred book of Torah ends and a new one begins. Beautiful celebrations take place at synagogues. Services then are marked with songs, dance and followed by a typical meal eaten together. Delicious treats are ‘Torah shaped’ (cylindrical) include stuffed cabbage, rolled pancakes filled with fruit or cheese known as ‘blintzes’.


All Jewish festivals begin at sunset the evening before as that’s when the Jewish ‘day’ starts!

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