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Holiday Observances

 

 

Looking for a place to commemorate or celebrate the Jewish holidays? Synagogues and other Jewish organizations in the greater Indianapolis area welcome you!

 


Why are Jewish holidays on different dates every year? Jewish holidays follow the Jewish calendar, not the Gregorian calendar most people are used to. So while the holidays fall on the same day each year on the Jewish calendar, because the Jewish calendar follows the cycles of the moon instead of the sun, the Gregorian calendar dates change from year to year.

How long is [insert Jewish holiday here]? Depending on who you ask, you may get a different answer! In ancient times, when calendars weren't as accurate, communities far away from Israel would add an extra day to some holidays to cover all their bases and ensure holidays were observed on the correct date and at the correct time, while communities in Israel would observe the one day that was specified. Today, some branches of Judaism continue to add the extra day, while others adhere to the dates originally set out in the Torah, other holy book, etc.

When do Jewish holidays start and end? The Jewish "day" goes from sunset to sunset (because of the repeating Torah verse "And it was evening, and it was morning, the [insert number here] day,"), so holiday observances often begin in the evening. For example, if a secular calendar says that Rosh Hashanah is September 23-24, families and friends will be gathering for a celebratory dinner the evening of September 22. Some calendars may mark the preceding day as "Erev Rosh Hashanah", which means Rosh Hashanah Eve. If the calendar says "Erev" or "Eve" in conjunction with a holiday, it means the holiday is observed beginning that evening and continuing into the following day.