Calendar of Jewish Holidays

NOTE: Each holiday begins and ends at sundown on the days listed.
Jewish Year 5776
5777 5778 5779
Secular Year Sep '15 - 
Sep '16
Sep '16 -
Sep '17
Sep '17 -
Sep '18
Sep '18 -
Sep '19
S'LICHOT SERVICE Sep 5 Sep 24, 2016 Sep 16, 2017 Sep 21, 2018
Sep 13-15 Oct 2-4 Sep 20-23 Sep 9-11
YOM KIPPUR Sep 22-23 Oct 11-12
Sep 29-30 Sep 18-19
SUKKOT Sep 27-Oct 4 Oct 16-23 Oct 4-11 Sep 23-30
Oct 4-5 Oct 23-24 Oct 11-12 Sep 30-Oct 1
CHANUKAH Dec 6-14 Dec 24-Jan 1, 2017
Dec 12-20 Dec 2-10
TU BISH'VAT Jan 24-25, 2016 Feb 10-11 Jan 30-31, 2018 Jan 20-21, 2019
PURIM Mar 23-24 Mar 11-12
Feb 28-Mar 1 Mar 20-21
PASSOVER Apr 22-29 Apr 10-17 Mar 30-Apr 6
Apr 19-26
YOM HASHOAH May 4-5 Apr 23-24 Apr 11-12 May1-2
May 10-11 Apr 30-May 1 Apr 17-18 May 7-8
May 11-12 May 1-2 Apr 18-19 May 8-9
May 25-26 May 13-14 May 2-3 May 6-7
SHAVUOT Jun 11-12 May 30-31 May 19-20 May 23-24
Aug 13-14 Jul 31-Aug 1
Jul 21-22 Jul 25-26
NOTE: Each holiday begins and ends at sundown on the days listed.



Chanukah, meaning "dedication" in Hebrew, refers to the joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Macabees 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 Chanukah centers around the lighting of the chanukiah, a special menorah for Chanukah; unique foods, latkes and jelly doughnuts; and special songs and games.

High Holy Days at TBH

High Holy Days

High Holy Days are a time for reflection, introspection, prayer, and re-connection.  We welcome you to join us in celebrating and observing these special Holy days.  We offer a variety of services to meet the spiritual needs of our diverse community. Please see the Schedule of Services for a list of dates, times, and locations of services.

Come share the spirit and wisdom of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These Holy Days are a time of prayer, music, reflection and learning.  Come and join our congregational family for a spiritually deep High Holy Day experience.

Members of the congregation will automatically receive their High Holy Day tickets for each adult member of your household and dependent children over the age of 18 (Children 17 years old and under do not require a ticket).  Members are also welcomed to purchase additional tickets for other relatives and guests at a discount rate.

We encourage you to invite your friends and relatives to experience the High Holy Days at Temple Beth Hillel. Tickets are free for full-time students, active members of the military, and members of other synagogues who submit a letter from their congregation requesting reciprocity. Otherwise, guest tickets for our services are provided for a suggested donation of $180, or $360 for a Mensch level donation. The entire amount donated for guest tickets may be applied toward membership dues if a guest decides to become a member of TBH this year.

To receive guest tickets, please contact Lori, at or (860)282-8466.

While tickets have been provided for High Holy Day Services, they are used primarily for us to determine how many people are likely to attend. We also use them to help us stay in touch with our members and guests. We will not turn anyone away because they don’t have a ticket.

We look forward to sharing a wonderful High Holy Days together! 



Pesach, known as Passover in English, is a major Jewish spring festival, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt over 3,000 years ago. The ritual observance of this holiday centers around a special home service called the seder (meaning "order") and a festive meal; the prohibition of chametz (leaven); and the eating of matzah (an unleavened bread). On the eve of the fifteenth day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, we read from a book called the hagaddah, meaning "telling," which contains the order of prayers, rituals, readings and songs for the Pesach seder. The Pesach seder is the only ritual meal in the Jewish calendar year for which such an order is prescribed, hence its name.

The seder has a number of scriptural bases. Exodus 12:3-11 describes the meal of lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs which the Israelites ate just prior to the Exodus. In addition, three separate passages in Exodus (12:26-7, 13:8, 13:14) and one in Deuteronomy (6:20-21) enunciate the duty of the parents to tell the story of the Exodus to their children. The seder plate contains various symbolic foods referred to in the seder itself.



Purim, Festival of Lots, the only time when ribaldry and license were encouraged as examples of proper behavior, arrives on the 14th day of Adar. Adar is the month that precedes Nisan, when Jews celebrate the liberation from slavery in Egypt. Purim is also about deliverance from great peril and has many parallels with Pesach. The drama of the humbling of Egypt and its Pharaoh, the destruction of his pursuing army in the waters of the Reed Sea, as told and retold at the Seder, is the same theme as the downfall of the tyrant Haman: salvation and the miracle of Jewish survival. Though one festival is celebrated with farce, noisemaking, and the command (at least traditionally) to get drunk, and the other with the solemn drama of an ordered ritual meal, storytelling and prayer, each has its own special book, its own unique telling of a miracle.

Purim is the Scroll of Esther, called the Megillah (meaning "scroll"). There are five "scrolls" read on the various festival and holy days, (Ecclesiastes or Koheleth - Succoth; Song of Songs - Pesach; Ruth - Shavuot; Lamentations - Tisha B'Av) but only the Scroll of Esther is required by our tradition to be heard in its entirety by everyone.

Rosh HaShanah

Rosh HaShanah (literally, "Head of the Year") is the Jewish New Year, which marks the beginning of a 10-day period of prayer, self-examination and repentance. This period, known as the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe or High Holy Days), is widely observed by Jews throughout the world, many with prayer and reflection in a synagogue. There also are several holiday rituals observed at home.

Rosh HaShanah is celebrated on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which—because of differences in the solar and lunar calendar—corresponds to September or October on the secular calendar. Customs associated with the holiday include sounding the shofar, eating a round challah, and tasting apples and honey to represent a sweet New Year.



S'lichot, a Hebrew word meaning "forgiveness," refers to the special penitential prayers recited by Jews throughout the High Holy Days. Jews recite S'lichot beginning late at night on the Saturday before Rosh HaShanah and continue each morning on the days between the New Year and Yom Kippur.



Shavout also known as the Festival of the Giving of the Torah, dates from biblical times, and helps to explain the holiday's name, "Weeks." The Torah tells us it took precisely forty-nine days for our ancestors to travel from Egypt to the foot of Mount Sinai (the same number of days as the Counting of the Omer ) where they were to receive the Torah. Thus, Leviticus 23:21 commands: "And you shall proclaim that day (the fiftieth day) to be a holy convocation!" The name Shavuot, "Weeks," then symbolizes the completion of a seven-week journey.

Special customs on Shavuot are the reading of the Book of Ruth, which reminds us that we too can find a continual source of blessing in our tradition. Another tradition includes staying up all night to study Torah and Mishnah, a custom called Tikkun Leil Shavuot, which symbolizes our commitment to the Torah, and that we are always ready and awake to receive the Torah. Traditionally, dairy dishes are served on this holiday to symbolize the sweetness of the Torah, as well as the "land of milk and honey".

Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah, Hebrew for "rejoicing in the Law", celebrates the completion of the annual reading of the Torah. Simchat Torah is a joyous festival, in which we affirm our view of the Torah as a tree of life and demonstrate a living example of never-ending, lifelong study. Torah scrolls are taken from the ark and carried or danced around the synagogue seven times. During the Torah service, the concluding section of Deuteronomy is read, and immediately following, the opening section of Genesis, or B'reishit as it is called in Hebrew, is read.



Sukkot, a Hebrew word meaning "booths" or "huts," refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest. It also commemorates the 40 years of Jewish wandering in the desert after the giving of the Torah atop Mt. Sinai. Sukkot is celebrated five days after Yom Kippur on the 15th of the month of Tishrei, and is marked by several distinct traditions. One, which takes the commandment to dwell in booths literally, is to erect a sukkah, a small, temporary booth or hut. Sukkot (in this case, the plural of sukkah) are commonly used during the seven-day festival for eating, entertaining and even for sleeping.

Sukkot also called Z’man Simchateinu (Season of Our Rejoicing), is the only festival associated with an explicit commandment to rejoice. A final name for Sukkot is Chag HaAsif, (Festival of the Ingathering), representing a time to give thanks for the bounty of the earth during the fall harvest.

Tishah B'Av

Tishah B'Av means "Ninth of Av" and refers to a Jewish day of fasting and mourning.

Excerpted from The Jewish Home by Daniel B. Syme. URJ Press

Traditionally Tishah B'Av is the darkest of all days, a time set aside for mourning the destruction of both ancient Temples in Jerusalem. As on Yom Kippur, the fast extends until the following sundown. In the synagogue, the Book of lamentations is changed, as are kinot, dirges written during the Middle Ages. Sitting on low stools, a shivah custom, congregants also read sections of the books of Jeremiah and Job, as well as biblical and talmudic passages dealing with the Temples' destruction.

Reform Judaism has never assigned a central religious role to the ancient Temple. To the early Reformers, mourning the destruction of the Temple in such elaborate fashion did not seem meaningful, especially since Reform has not idealized the rebuilding of the Temple, as has Jewish tradition. For most Reform Jews, then, 586 b.c.e. and 70 c.e. are important dates in Jewish history, but Tishah B'Av has faded in importance as a ritual observance. In order to understand the mournful nature of Tishah B'Av, then, we must enter the traditional mind as we look back into history.

The First Temple in Jerusalem was constructed during the reign of King Solomon (965 b.c.e.--925 b.c.e.). Solomon's father, King David, had wished to build the Temple, but was not allowed to do so. The Bible relates that God disqualified David because of his many military campaigns. The Temple was to be a holy place, a place of peace. Therefore, only a king who had not shed blood could bring it into being. Thus, Solomon, whose Hebrew name was Shlomo (from shalom, peace), inherited this sacred task.

Solomon built the First Temple with the assistance of King Hiram of Tyre. Hiram sent his Phoenician artists and builders magnificent stone from his nation's quarries and the beautiful cedars of Lebanon to aid in the task.

The finished Temple was an awesome structure. Situated on a mountain 2/500 feet high, it had courtyard, a sanctuary, and a small room called the Holy of Holie, entered only once a year by the high priest. It was in the Temple that the kohanim (priests) offered the ancient sacrifices on behalf of the people, assisted by the Levites.

In 586 b.c.e., the Babylonian army surrounded Jerusalem. Led by their general, Bebuchadnezzar, they broke into the city and conquered it. Then, on the Ninth of Av, they destroyed the Temple. The Jews were sent into exile, crushed and despondent. According to some scholars, the prophet Jeremiah, grieving for the Temple, composed Psalm 137, in which he wrote: "By the waters of Babylon, we lay down and wept for thee Zion." A people who had grounded their entire religious system in a priestly Temple structure suddenly had it torn away from them.

Even as he mourned, Jeremiah still had hope. He told the people that they would one day return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. He was correct. Some sixty years later, Persia conquered Babylonia, and the Persian King Cyrus allowed the Jews to return home. They rebuilt the Temple but it was not nearly as magnificent as Solomon's Temple had been. Still, the Jews rejoiced, for once again they had an opportunity to be led by their priests and to offer sacrifices in their holiest site. It was this rebuilt Temple that King Antiochus defiled in 168 b.c.e., and which the Maccabees reconsecrated three years later. But the Building of the Second Temple was yet to come.

The Second Temple was enhanced and expanded during the first century b.c.e by King Herod, one of the cruelest rulers in Jewish history. Deciding that the rebuilt Temple was not to his liking, Herod decided to expand it. He partially leveled the previous site, then oversaw the construction of a Temple that rivaled that of Solomon's in grandeur.

Herod had intended to continually add new structures to the Temple grounds, but the work was never completed. In 70 c.e., Roman legions, led by the General Titus, conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. It was the Ninth of Av. Once again, the Jews were sent into exile, this time to Rome.

Some historians have expressed doubt that the actual destruction of both Temples occurred on the Ninth of Av, but there is no disputing the fact that the day became a symbol of Jewish tragedy. The synagogue ultimately replaced the Temple. [New forms of worship and religious leadership were created.] But Jew continued to hope and pray that the Temple would be restored. The prayer book and songs expressed this yearning, and Tisha B'Av became a vehicle for expressing that deep sorrow.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur means "Day of Atonement" and refers to the annual Jewish observance of fasting, prayer and repentance. Part of the High Holidays, which also includes Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. In three separate passages in the Torah, the Jewish people are told, "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."(Leviticus 23:27). Fasting is seen as fulfilling this biblical commandment. The Yom Kippur fast also enables us to put aside our physical desires to concentrate on our spiritual needs through prayer, repentance and self-improvement.

Yom Kippur is the moment in Jewish time when we dedicate our mind, body, and soul to reconciliation with God, our fellow human beings, and ourselves. We are commanded to turn to those whom we have wronged first, acknowledging our sins and the pain we might have caused.  At the same time, we must be willing to forgive and to let go of certain offenses and the feelings of resentment they provoked in us. On this journey we are both seekers and givers of pardon. Only then can we turn to God and ask for forgiveness:  “And for all these, God of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, and grant us atonement.”

Tu BiSh'vat

Tu BiSh'vat

Here, at Temple Beth Hillel, it has become our tradition to celebrate Tu BiSh'vat with a special seder following Kabbalat Shabbat service. Come and enjoy a tasting of a variety of fruits, some familiar and some exotic. No reservation required.

Tu BiSh'vat is the New Year of the Trees. Its name is derived from its date on the Hebrew calendar. In the Hebrew aleph-bet each letter has a numerical value. This system is called “ gematria .” The Hebrew “Tu” is made up of a tet , which has the value of nine, and a vov , which has the value of six. Together the two letters equal 15. Tu B'Shvat occurs on the 15 th day of the Hebrew month Sh’vat. Tu BiSh'vat marked the time, determined by the sages, when the trees were nourished by the rains of the new year, as opposed to the rain of the previous year. Another name for Tu BiSh'vat is Rosh HaShanah L’Ilanot –the New Year of the Trees.Tradition teaches that on Tu BiSh'vat a heavenly court judges the trees and pronounces their fate–which trees will thrive and which will wither.