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Jewish Festivals

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Title: Jewish Festivals


1
Jewish Festivals
  • RELIG 210 Lecture 5
  • January 26, 2009

2
Quiz
  • Name two Jewish Holidays and write one sentence
    about a concept/theme each celebrates/commemorates
  • What are the 39 Categories of Forbidden Work?

3
Lecture Goals
  • Provide a basic overview of the structure of
    Jewish holidays and festivals
  • Discuss the historical sources and religious
    significance of major festivals
  • Illustrate key ritual objects and practices
    associate with festivals

4
  • The catechism of the Jew consists of his
    calendar. Sampson Raphael Hirsch

5
Shared themes
  • Building Sacred Time
  • Jewish memory
  • Ritual Structure/Advance Preparation

6
Torah Reading
  • Weekly cycle of reading
  • Why make Torah part of the liturgy?

7
Shabbat and Jewish Time
  • History vs. Memory
  • Prayer, Ritual and Halakhah construct Jewish time
  • Shabbat is most central time-marker
  • Major theme Recognizing Creation

8
Shabbat Sources
  • Genesis 22-3
  • Exodus 208
  • 39 Categories of Forbidden Work

9
Observing Shabbat
  • Actions imbued with liturgical significance
  • All acts of labor are prohibited
  • God rested, so should the Jews
  • Cannot bring anything into existence
  • Any action used in building Tent of Meeting is
    forbidden
  • Creating distinctions in time
  • Liturgy goes beyond communal prayer into daily
    life

10
Shabbat Rituals
11
The Jewish Calendar
29.5 Day Cycle 12 months of (29 or 30 Days) 354
Days in a year Leap Month Day begins at Sunset
12
Holidays and Ritual Occasions
  • Pilgrimage Festivals
  • New Year Cycle
  • Commemorative Celebrations and Fasts

13
Pilgrimage Festivals
  • Origins of the Festivals
  • Agricultural holidays
  • Rabbis add layers
  • Tied to national/theological narrative
  • Temple sacrifice
  • Ritual Reenactment
  • Passover - Leave Egypt (8 Days)
  • Shavuot - Receive Torah (2 Days)
  • Sukkot - Enter the Promised Land (8 Days)

14
Pesah (Passover)
  • Biblical Roots Spring harvest festival
  • Commemorates liberation from Egyptian slavery
  • You shall observe the feast of unleavened bread,
    for on this very day I brought your ranks out of
    the land of Egypt you shall observe this day
    throughout the ages as an institution for all
    time. (Exodus 12 17-18)

15
The Seder
  • The Haggadah
  • Commanded to retell Exodus narrative
  • Ritual reenactment-Imagine personal deliverance
    from slavery
  • Symbols
  • Matzah - Unleavened bread
  • Maror - Bitter herbs
  • Haroset- Sweet mix

16
Roasted Bone-Paschal Lamb
Roasted Egg-Festival Offering
Haroset
Maror
17
The Passover Seder Meal
18
Shavuot (Feast of Weeks)
  • Biblical Source You shall observe Shavuot, of
    first fruits of the wheat harvest. (Exodus
    3421)
  • Rabbinic Reading Commemorates giving of Torah at
    Mt. Sinai
  • Fewer home rituals than Passover or Sukkot
  • All night studying

19
Sukkot- Biblical Sources
  • Biblical Source
  • Exodus the Feast of the Ingathering at the end
    of the year, when you gather in the result of
    your work from the field. (Exodus 2316)
  • LeviticusYou shall live in booths (sukkot)
    seven daysin order that future generations may
    know that I made the Israelite people live in
    booths when I brought them out of the land of
    Egypt. (Leviticus 2340)
  • Sukkah- Temporary structures for harvest

20
Sukkot-Rabbinic Significance
  • Significance
  • Experience of wandering and exile
  • Liberation and Gods protection
  • Fragility vs. Gods presence
  • Ritual
  • Commandment to be happy
  • Live in the Sukkah (temporary structure)
  • Four Species-lulav and etrog

21
19th Century German Sukkah
22
A Sukkah
23
Lulav and Etrog
On the first day you shall take the product of
hadar trees (traditionally identified as the
etrog/citron tree), branches of palm trees,
boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook,
and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God
seven days (Leviticus 2340)
24
Shemini Atzeret/Simhat Torah
  • Eight Day of Assembly-last day of Sukkot
  • Simhat Torah-Rejoicing in the Torah
  • Completion of the Torah reading cycle
  • Dancing and celebration

25
The New Year Cycle
  • High Holidays or Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe)
  • Rosh Hashannah (New Years Day)
  • Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
  • Sukkot (Tabernacles)

26
Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)
  • You shall observe complete rest, a sacred
    occasion commemorated with loud blasts.
    (Leviticus 2324)
  • Anniversary of Creation-New Year
  • Theme of repentance and self-examination
  • Trial Metaphor
  • May you be inscribed
  • Tip the scales of divine judgment
  • 10 day period until Yom Kippur

27
Yom Kippur-Biblical Origins
  • Mark the tenth day of the seventh month is the
    Day of Atonement. It shall be a sacred occasion
    for you you shall practice self-denial, and you
    shall bring a gift to the lordFor it is a day of
    Atonement, on which expiation is made on your
    behalf before the Lord your God. (Leviticus
    2327)
  • High priest performs rite to expiate peoples
    sins
  • A Note about sin in Judaism (falling short of
    the mark)

28
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
  • Rabbis call it Day of Judgment
  • Climax of trial
  • God decides fate of individual and Israel
  • Excellent replacement for Temple
  • Clean slate every year
  • Focus on spiritual concerns
  • Abstention from food, drink, luxury, sexual
    activity
  • Imagery of Death

29
Commemorative Celebrations
  • Mythic narrative remains central in yearly
    calendar
  • Commemorate great moments and tragedies through
    rituals

30
Chanukah (Dedication)
  • No reference in Hebrew Bible
  • Victory of Maccabees over Syrian domination in
    135BCE
  • Rededicate the Temple
  • Miracle of jar of oil added in Talmud

31
Menorah
Latke-Fried Potato Pancake
Dreidel
32
Tu Bishvat
  • Birthday of the Trees
  • Mystical Significance
  • Zionist Symbolism
  • Environmental Holiday-Jewish Earth Day

33
Purim (Lots, Raffle)
  • Book of Esther
  • Jews of Persia saved from destruction
  • Draws lots to determine day to kill Jews
  • Diaspora story
  • No mention of God
  • Ritual
  • Read Scroll of Esther
  • Rowdy celebration

34
Commemorative Fasts
  • 4 minor fast days
  • Daylight and full-day
  • 3 connected to catastrophe of Temples
    destruction
  • Tisha BAv-saddest day on the calendar

35
New Holidays
  • Israel Independence Day
  • Holocaust Memorial Day
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