Festivals and Holidays at PSJC

The Jewish calendar is structured around holidays that reflect both the time of year (light in the darkness of winter, various grain harvests), events (the giving of the Torah) and our history.  In normal times we celebrate these holidays together, but in this time of Covid, we join together virtually.  Regardless of the setting, we seek to celebrate the unique messages and traditions of each of these festivals and holidays.  Information about the High Holy Days can be found on a dedicated page.

What follows is a description of festivals and holidays at PSJC during "normal" times.  Please watch the Events Page for activities and times as we determine how to modify our celebrations in line with the pandemic constraints.

Sukkot Through Simchat Torah

The fall holidays are a joyous time at PSJC, from singing and eating together in our communal sukkah to dancing with our Torahs on Simchat Torah.  During Sukkot we have many opportunities to shake our lulavs and etrogs and "dwell" together in sukkahs, both at the synagogue and in our community.  Every year we open our communal PSJC sukkah for use by the larger Jewish community, and organize many meals and events in our sukkah.  We also hold an annual "sukkah hop," which includes a walking tour of several sukkahs in our community, with learning, singing and (of course!) eating.
The PSJC Sukkah is open throughout the holiday for use by the Jewish community. Please be sure to bring everything you need for a dairy/vegetarian meal. In addition, please clean up after your meal. Please be respectful of scheduled PSJC programs. 

Our Shoshana Rabah services includes the ancient tradition of beating the willow branches, and we continue our celebrations the next day on Shemini Atzeret.  Erev (evening) Simchat Torah services include the traditional hakafot (parading the Torahs) and dancing with the Torahs, as well as an opportunity to see an entire Torah Scroll unrolled, with many recent b'nai mitzvah youth reading various sections.  On the day of Simchat Torah we once again parade around and dance with the Torahs, and then everyone present gets an aliyah, before the individuals honored as Chattan Torah (groom of the Torah) and Kallat B'reishit (Bride of Genesis) have alliyahs for the end of the last chapter of Deuteronomy and the first chapter of Genesis, as we begin the cycle of reading the Torah once again.


Shavuot is one of the major Festivals of the Jewish year. Because it falls at the start of summer, it often does not get all the press of its counterparts, Passover and Sukkot.  But this year is a wonderful time to bring our attention to SHAVUOT—The Time of the Giving of the Torah.  

Tradition holds that because our ancestors were not prepared to receive the Torah at Sinai (remember the Golden Calf?), we stay up all night, learning and preparing ourselves for this moment of connection—a moment we re-experience with the Torah reading the first morning, the story of the giving of the Torah and the recitation of the Ten Commandments. 

Tisha B'Av

Tisha B’Av (the Ninth of Av) is a time of mourning the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem and the Exile of the Jewish people.  The haunting melody of Eicha (the Book of Lamentations) and the kinot (songs of mourning and loss) that we sing help us “remember” these moments of destruction and loss.  This time of fasting and reflection upon the repeated tragedies the Jewish people have overcome in our history is considered the nadir of the Jewish year.  

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