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Worship

Shabbat

Shabbat, a holy day that occurs weekly from sundown on Friday until an hour after sundown on Saturday, is key to the Jewish rhythm of time, and is the pinnacle of joy after a hectic week. The Torah sets the Sabbath apart as a day of rest, and we encourage our members to take full advantage of this island of time for the rejuvenation of the soul and body. Through communal worship, Torah study, and social, cultural, and recreational programs, we dedicate our efforts to the strengthening of the individual, the family, and the community.

 

The Holiday Cycle at Temple Beth El

The Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah begins the period of the Jewish year specifically set aside to focus on personal repentance and forgiveness. It occurs on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. Special Temple Beth El celebrations include: a congregational “Hineini” prayer, when the congregation inaugurates the holiday season with the last call of the Shofar of the month of Elul, followed by a congregational recognition that the worship of atonement must involve everyone in the sanctuary; a walk down to Lake Wingra, half a block away from the synagogue, to participate in Taschlich, as we ceremonially throw our sins into the water; as well as a wonderful Oneg Rosh Hashanah which follows Taschlich.

The Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the most solemn and important of the Jewish holidays. Its central theme is personal repentance and commitment toward the improvement of our lives. We traditionally observe this holy day with a day-long fast and intensive prayer. This day falls on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. Observances unique to our synagogue include Kol Nidrei services with musical instrumentation by faculty from the University of Wisconsin; a Yom Kippur afternoon study session led by our director of lifelong learning; and a joyous N’ilah (closing) service and break-the-fast reception.

The Pilgrim Festivals – Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot

The three Pilgrim Festivals – Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Weeks, or Pentacost), and Sukkot (Tabernacles) – are major celebrations of Jewish life. Israelites living in ancient Israel would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for these holy days, as commanded by the Torah, to offer up sacrifices in the Jerusalem Temple.

Pesach (Passover) celebrates our ancient liberation from Egyptian bondage. According to the Torah, the Israelites were enslaved for 400 years. God’s freeing us from the grip of a tyrant establishes a paradigm for Jews to bring liberation to all enslaved peoples of the world. We traditionally hold a congregational Second Night Seder which is open to the entire community, to try and ensure that all who wish to participate in a Passover Seder have a chance to do so. All those dining with us participate in reading parts for the seder. We also hold our Yizkor memorial service at the conclusion of the holiday.
Shavuot celebrates the moment of God’s giving us the Torah as a heritage of life. We recall the revelation at Sinai, and rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, and education. We hold our Yizkor memorial service at the onset of the holiday, followed by a congregational study session in honor of Jewish learning and living.
Sukkot celebrates the gratitude that we should demonstrate to God for the bounty of a good harvest. Everyone in the Temple – young and old – comes to help decorate our Sukkah, which was donated to Temple by our Men’s Club, who enjoys putting up and taking down the structure each year. We hold Social Action programming along with our holiday worship services in the Sukkah.

The Feast of Dedication – Hanukkah

Hanukkah, known as the “Festival of Lights,” is an eight-day festival commemorating the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple at the time of the Maccabean revolt of the Second century BCE. Hanukkah is observed for eight days, starting on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. Our Hanukkah celebrations often include a joyous congregational dinner.

Purim

Purim (literally “lots” or lottery) is a wintertime festival that commemorates the story of the deliverance of the Jewish people of the ancient Persian Empire from the plot to annihilate them, as recorded in the biblical book of Esther. According to the story, Haman – the Grand Vizier of Persia – casts lots to determine the day upon which the extermination of the Jews would take place. We celebrate Purim with all ages: a community Purim carnival for youngsters, and a Purim schpiel and party for adults.

Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day – Yom HaShoah v’Hag’vurah

Yom HaShoah v’Hag’vurah is observed as Israel’s day of commemoration of the six million Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust of World War II. It also recalls the numerous acts of heroism that came about against the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accomplices. In Israel, this is a national memorial day and public holiday. It is held on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. We observe this solemn occasion by joining with all Jews in Madison in commemoration and learning.

Israel’s Independence Day – Yom Ha’atz-ma’ut

Yom Ha’atz-ma’ut (literally “day of independence”) is the national independence day for Israel, commemorating its declaration of independence promulgated in 1948. Celebrated annually on 5th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, it centers around the establishment of the state of Israel by David Ben Gurion on a late Friday afternoon, May 14, 1948. Signifying the end of the British mandatory rule over Palestine, this holiday is always preceded by Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s day to remember soldiers who have fallen throughout the many wars Israel has fought. Our synagogue often hosts special programming put on by our Kesher (connect to Israel) committee, and we also participate with all Jews in Madison in community-wide programming.

April 20, 2018 5 Iyar 5778