Many of our services are livesteamed and can be viewed online

Jewish Holidays

Below is a list of many of the Jewish holidays.  All Jewish Holidays begin at sundown the night before the listed date.  This comes from Genesis 1:5 "There was evening and there was morning, the first day."  Since evening is listed first, all Jewish Holidays begin at evening.

Rosh Hashanah

TRANSLATION: Head of the Year
HEBREW DATE:
 1 Tishrei

The Jewish New Year, begins the ten-day period known as the High Holidays. Rosh Hashanah is also known as the "birthday of the world", the "day of remembrance" and the "day of the shofar." Rosh Hashanah celebrates the ability of people to change and grow, as it is a time for deep thought, self-examination and prayer.

AT SINAI:

We provide age appropriate activities for children up through fifth grade, concurrent with the service. The family service on Rosh HaShanah afternoon concludes with Tashlich, the ceremony during which we symbolically cast our sins (in this case, bread crumbs) upon the water (in our case, the creek behind the synagogue). A most popular aspect of the High Holy Days is the Shofar Blowing contest, held immediately after the afternoon Tashlich service, on Rosh HaShanah. Over the past years, literally hundreds of youngsters have participated in this fun and educational happening!

Yom Kippur

TRANSLATION: Day of Atonement
HEBREW DATE: 
10 Tishrei

The Day of Atonement, is the holiday in which the Jewish people ask for forgiveness and forgive others. Yom Kippur, the most solemn and holy day of the Jewish year, is the last day of the ten days of awe and marks the end of the ten-day period of the High Holy Days.

AT SINAI:

We convene a special discussion group between the morning and afternoon services for those who would like to spend that part of the day focusing on the themes of the holy day. Our afternoon service is a "Healing Service" which includes ample time for individuals and small groups to approach the open ark and the Torahs for a moment of personal prayer. This service is accompanied by two of our congregants who are professional musicians, who play classical compositions from Eastern Europe. The Yizkor service of remembrance follows and the day ends with the well attended and dynamic Neilah service.  Traditionally a day of fasting, Yom Kippur concludes at sundown with a communal break-the-fast.

Sukkot

TRANSLATION: Booths or tabernacles
BEGINS:
15 Tishrei
DURATION:
7 days
SEASON: Fall

Sukkot is the fall harvest festival, also known as the "Festival of the Booths", because it commemorates a time in which the Jewish people lived in temporary huts (sukkot) during their wandering and during their time of harvest. Sukkot is a time of feasting and of giving thanks for the harvest.

AT SINAI:

Each year, we construct a Sukkah in our beautiful backyard. Our Brotherhood hosts an annual Sukkot barbecue outside in the Sukkah. We also enjoy harvesting our Sukkah garden. A dedicated team of congregants plants a garden in spring, and the fall harvest of vegetables decorates our Sukkah in the fall.

Simchat Torah

TRANSLATION: Rejoicing in the Torah
HEBREW DATE: 23 Tishrei
SEASON: Fall

Simchat Torah is a festive holiday, filled with music and dance. On Simchat Torah the last portion of the Torah in the book of Deuteronomy and the first verses of the book of Genesis are read in the same service, signifying that the Torah has no beginning and no end.

AT SINAI:

We unroll the entire Torah around the perimeter of the social hall, held aloft by human hands. From any vantage point, one can see the entire Torah unrolled, a most impressive sight. Young adults who have celebrated their b'nei mitzvah in the previous year are invited to read a bit from their Torah portion while the Torah is completely unrolled. We dance and sing with the Torah and our Sinai community.

Hanukkah

TRANSLATION: Dedication
BEGINS: 25 Kislev
DURATION: 8 nights
SEASON: Winter

Hanukkah is to the joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and "rededication" of the Temple in Jerusalem. The modern home celebration of Hanukkah centers around the lighting of the hanukkiyah, a special menorah for Hanukkah; foods prepared in oil including latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts); and special songs and games.

AT SINAI:

The Mitzvah Menorah is the centerpiece of our holiday celebration at Sinai. Congregants take paper candles, marked with an age and gender of a child in need in our community, and purchase a gift for that child. At our Congregational Latke Celebration, we eat a festive meal and wrap the gifts to be given to a local shelter.

Tu Bishevat

TRANSLATION: 15th of Shevat
HEBREW DATE:
15 Shevat
SEASON: Winter

The 15th day of the month of Shevat, celebrates the "Birthday of the Trees." This Jewish holiday validates the importance of nature and stresses the need for people to care for trees, plants and objects in nature. It is customary to plant trees on Tu Bishevat.

AT SINAI:

We hold a Tu Bishevat Seder, a mystical experience exploring our relationship to God's creations.

Purim

TRANSLATION: Lots
HEBREW DATE:
14 Adar (II, if leap year)
SEASON: Winter

Purim is a time of merriment and great fun, and is one of the happiest of Jewish holidays. The festival of Purim derives from the biblical story of Esther and commemorates the Jewish people's success over people who tried to destroy them.

AT SINAI:

We celebrate with a costume parade and carnival for the kids. We also host an evening Megillah reading that is always full of music, laughter, and surprises. Our Chesed committee coordinates the distribution of mishloach manot (gifts of food) to members of our congregational community.

Pesach (Passover)

TRANSLATION: Passover
BEGINS:
15 Nisan
DURATION: 7 days
SEASON: Spring

Passover celebrates the most important event in Jewish history, which is the Jewish people's exodus from Egypt. This holiday recalls the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, their eventual freedom and their arrival in the promised land in Canaan. Passover is celebrated for eight days with a special meal, special foods and specific traditional practices.

AT SINAI:

Passover is traditional celebrated in the home with a seder meal during which the story of the Exodus is told.

Yom HaShoah

TRANSLATION: Holocaust Remembrance Day
HEBREW DATE: 
27 Nisan
SEASON: Spring

Yom HaShoah is a solemn day dedicated to remembering the 6,000,000 Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust.  Jews around the world attend services and memorials marking the day.  In Israel, a siren is sounded at 10:00 am around the country and everyone in Israel stops what they are doing to join in the moment of silence and memory.

AT SINAI:

Sinai joins the Milwaukee community for a city-wide ceremony marking Yom HaShoah.

Yom HaZikaron

TRANSLATION: Israel's Memorial Day
HEBREW DATE: 
4 Iyar
SEASON: Spring

Yom HaZikaron, or fully, Yom HaZikaron LeHalalei Ma'arakhot Ysrael ul'Nifge'ei Pe'ulot HaEivah (Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of the Wars of Israel and Victims of Actions of Terrorism) is a solemn day commemorating Israeli soldiers who have given their lives fighting for and defending Israel's freedom as well as those killed in terrorist attacks.  At 8:00pm, when the holiday begins, a siren sounds across the country and everyone stops for the moment of silence.  At 11:00am the following morning, another siren is sounded for 2 minutes marking the beginning of memorial ceremonies taking place concurrently around the country.  The holiday transitions immediately into Yom Ha'Atzmaut at sundown.

AT SINAI:

Sinai joins the greater Milwaukee community for a service commemorating this day.

Yom Ha'Atzmaut

TRANSLATION: Israel's Day of Independence
HEBREW DATE: 
5 Iyar
SEASON: Spring

Yom Ha'Atzmaut marks Israel's Independence Day.  The date corresponds to the day on the Hebrew calendar when Israel declared it's independence in 1948.  As soon as the sunsets after Yom HaZikaron, the country shifts from quiet and calm to loud and celebratory.  Concerts and parties occur across the country with firework displays.  The following afternoon, many Israelis gather in parks to grill and celebrate.

AT SINAI:

Sinai joins the Milwaukee Jewish community for the Walk for Israel.

Lag Ba Omer

TRANSLATION: 33rd Day of  the Omer
HEBREW DATE:
18 Iyyar
SEASON: Spring

Lag Ba Omer is a minor Jewish holiday that focuses on the importance of study and learning. Lag Ba Omer is celebrated on the 33rd day of the 50 days of the counting of the "omer", or the measure of the newly ripened barley. The Lag Ba Omer holiday provided a break from this serious harvest time in ages past; for us today, Lag Ba Omer marks a way point on the journey from the shores of the Red Sea (the Exodus) to Mount Sinai, where Moses and the people of Israel will receive the Torah.

Shavuot

TRANSLATION: Weeks
HEBREW DATE:
6 Sivan
SEASON: Spring

Shavuot celebrates the day the Jews were given the Torah, the guidelines of Jewish life, on Mount Sinai. It is also a celebration of the time of harvest and the offering of the first fruits of the new harvest. On Shavuot the Jewish people decorate the synagogue with greens and flowers, wear white clothing and eat dairy dishes.

AT SINAI:

Shavuot is traditionally the time of year that our young people celebrate their Affirmation ceremony. These students are typically our sophomore students in Kulanu (Hebrew high school program).

Tisha B'Av

TRANSLATION: 9th of Av
HEBREW DATE: 
9 Av
SEASON: Summer

Tisha B'Av commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem.  As this is a day of mourning, Jews typically do not work on this day and fast for the duration.

AT SINAI:

Sinai holds a service to commemorate this communal day of mourning for the Jewish people.