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FESTIVALS OF JUDAISM


Judaism is one of the major Semitic religions. Its followers are known as Jews and they believe in the prophetic mission of Prophet Moses (pbuh). Judaism is a monotheistic religion ie, they believe in one God. Judaism traces its heritage to the covenant God made with Abraham and his lineage — that God would make them a sacred people and give them a holy land. The primary figures of Israelite culture include the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophet Moses(PBUT). [1] [2]

 

Table of Contents

 

Hanukkah

Hanukkah or Chanukah is the Jewish Festival of Lights. It dates back to two centuries before the beginning of Christianity. The festival begins on the 25th day of Kislev and is celebrated for eight days. In the western calendar Hanukkah is celebrated in November or December

 

During Hanukkah Jews follow simple religious rituals in addition to their regular daily prayers from the Siddur, the Jewish prayer book.

 

They recite three blessings during the eight-day festival. On the first night, they recite three and on subsequent nights they say the first two. The blessings are said before the candles are lit. After the candles are lit, they recite the Hanerot Halalu prayer and then sing a hymn. The exchange of gifts or gelt is another old and cherished Hanukkah custom that dates back to at least the Middle Ages, possibly earlier. [3]

 

The Sabbath

Every week religious Jews observe the Sabbath, the Jewish holy day, and keep its laws and customs. The Sabbath begins at nightfall on Friday and lasts until nightfall on Saturday. In practical terms the Sabbath starts a few minutes before sunset on Friday and runs until an hour after sunset on Saturday, so it lasts about 25 hours.

 

Most Jewish people look forward to Shabbat all week. They see it as God's gift to his chosen people of a day when they take time out from everyday things to feel special. In order to avoid work and to ensure that the Sabbath is special, all chores like shopping, cleaning, and cooking for the Sabbath must be finished before sunset on Friday.

 

People dress up for Shabbat and go to considerable trouble to ensure that everything is organised to obey the commandment to make the Sabbath a delight. Sabbath candles are lit at sunset on a Friday. The woman of the house usually performs this ritual. It is an integral part of Jewish custom and ceremony. [4]

 

Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur, the most sacred and solemn day of the Jewish year, brings the Days of Repentance to a close. The special day is marked by Jews in several ways:

  • They abstain from food or drink for 25 hours
  • They do not wear perfume
  • They don't have sex
  • They don't wash
  • They don't wear leather shoes

The most important part of Yom Kippur is the time spent in the synagogue. [5]

 

Passover

Passover is one of the most important religious festivals in the Jewish calendar. Jews celebrate the Feast of Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) to commemorate the liberation of the Children of Israel who were led out of Egypt by Moses.The story of Passover is told in the Book of Exodus. The celebrations last for seven or eight days, depending on area. Passover lasts seven days - the first and seventh days are observed as full days of rest (yom tov), and the middle five as intermediate holidays (hol ha-moed).

 

Passover is also called The Festival of Freedom and is a celebration of freedom, not just in Biblical times, but its importance to the individual today and throughout history. Jews believe freedom to be one of the basic human rights. Readings about contemporary slavery or oppression to show solidarity with the oppressed may be included in some traditions. [6]

 

The Days of Repentance or Days of Awe

God is merciful and offers people a chance to sort out all the things they’ve done wrong. That’s fortunate, as most people are likely to have quite a lot of bad deeds around. So during the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur everyone gets a chance to repent (teshuvah). This involves a person admitting that they’ve done wrong and making a firm commitment not to do that wrong again. So Jews are expected to find all the people they have hurt during the previous year and apologise to them. And it must be a sincere and an effective apology. There’s a ceremony in which Jews symbolically cast away their sins. It’s called tashlich. [7]

 

See also

Muhammad ﷺProphets in IslamWhat Eminent Non Muslims say about Prophet Muhammad INTRODUCTION TO JUDAISM; Concept of God in JUDAISM; Prophecy of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in Jewish scriptures

 

 

References

[1] http://irf.net/Judaism.html

[2] http://www.patheos.com/Library/Judaism.html

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/holydays/hanukkah.shtml

[4] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/holydays/sabbath.shtml

[5] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/holydays/yomkippur.shtml

[6] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/holydays/passover_1.shtml

[7] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/holydays/awe.shtml

 

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