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A Jewish Calendar of Festive Foods is packed full of wonderful materials about our Jewish calendar - - its history, its holidays and of course its food! For an overview of the calendar, click here.

The four months highlighted this period are: Tishri (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur,
Sukkot and Simchat Torah); CheshvanKislev (Chanukah) and Tevet (last days of Chanukah).

TISHRI: September 17
CHESHVAN: October 16
KISLEV: November 15

TEVET: December 14

ROSH HASHANAH, 1-2 Tishri. Holiday begins on the evening of September 16. 

Rosh Hashanah is popularly regarded as the New Year, though Tishri is the seventh 
month of the legal Jewish calendar. This phenomenon is roughly equivalent to our
regarding September as the beginning of the popular/academic new year, though
January begins the legal new year. The Bible calls Rosh Hashanah the Day of the
Sounding of the Shofar (Leviticus 23:24, Numbers 29:1). The holiday, replete with family meals and memories, ushers in the ten days of repentance which are climaxed by Yom Kippur. Though indeed a happy time, these days also give us an opportunity to make amends with people we may have wronged, before facing God on the Day of Atonement.

YOM KIPPUR, 10 Tishri. Holiday begins on the evening of September 25.

Traditionally, Jewish people fast from evening to the following nightfall, then return to
their homes for the celebratory Break Fast meal (and the symbolic beginning of building
the Sukkah).

SUKKOT, 15-22 Tishri (15-21 in Israel and among Reform Jews), immediately followed by SIMCHAT TORAH, 23 Tishri (22 in Israel and among Reform Jews).
The holiday begins on the evening of September 30. 

A sukkah is a temporary enclosure, sort of a backyard hut in which we eat (and dwell if
we're very brave!) during the week of Sukkot. We celebrate the harvest as we behold
the palm, willow and myrtle branches, and smell the sweet etrog (citron). When we have
a meal in the Sukkah, we imagine that legendary guests (ushpizin) like Abraham and
Sarah join us. An additional day was added to the Sukkot holiday, Simchat Torah, a day
on which we conclude the reading of the Torah with the story of Moses' death (Deuteronomy), and immediately begin it again with the story of Creation (Genesis). In
the synagogue, we joyfully march and even dance with the Torah scrolls in our arms.

CHANUKAH, 25 KISLEV THROUGH 3 TEVET. Holiday begins on the evening of December 8.

"Chanukah" means dedication. Around 165 B.C.E., we rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after a victory over the Greek-Syrians ruled by Antiochus II. The rededication
was not without bloodshed, a three-year struggle led by the zealous Maccabee family. Afterwards, according to legend, there was only a small amount of olive oil found, oil required to illuminate the eternal light in the Temple. Yet the oil lasted for eight days, enough time to send for more. We therefore celebrate today by lighting the candelabrum (chanukiyah or  menorah) for eight nights, and by eating oil-based foods like potato pancakes (latkes) and jelly donuts (sufganiyot). Moreover, the holiday prompts us to
think about the quest for religious and political freedom, a struggle still relevant in
modern times. 

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