When is the next jewish holiday -
When is Purim 2021? Date, meaning behind the Jewish holiday and how it’s celebrated
When it comes to Jewish holidays, Purim is certainly one of the must beloved and most ostentatious.
It celebrates a Queen who thwarted the attempted genocide of her people many centuries ago, but despite its sombre beginnings it has evolved into a colourful feast of celebration.
But how will it be marked this year? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Purim?
Purim is a Jewish holiday that incorporates dressing up in costume, and eating and drinking in celebration.
The festival commemorates the defeat of an attempted genocide of the Jews of the Persian Empire in fifth century BCE.
After a virtuous Jewish woman named Esther married King Ahasuerus of Persia, she and her Uncle Mordechai interrupted a plot by the king’s right-hand-man, Haman, who planed “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day”.
At the eleventh hour, Esther revealed to the king that she was Jewish, meaning Haman’s plan would result in her death. The King instead sentenced his friend to be executed at the very gallows he’d prepared for the Jews.
When is Purim?
Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring).
This year Purim falls on the night of Thursday 25 February, into Friday 26 February.
How is it traditionally celebrated?
Purim is one of the more fun-loving holidays in the Jewish calendar where fancy dress is a must, with girls dressing up as Queen Esther, boys as King Ahasuerus and rabbis donning comedy hats.
The synagogue service involves a retelling of the Purim tale from the book of Esther where everyone theatrically hisses and makes noise when Haman’s name is mentioned.
Charity also plays a part and observers are expected to give money and food to those in need.
Parties are hosted across the community, with traditional food served including a filled biscuit known as Hamantaschen that is triangular shape and meant to denote Haman’s hat.
What about this year?
Of course, Covid has hit every community.
The UK’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, has already warned against Jews gathering this Purim, saying “let us guarantee that we will celebrate safety”.
This year’s Purim will be mostly marked at home in bubbles, with more low-key celebrations, as well as virtual events.
Children will still be able to dress up at home, and some parents may incorporate the baking of traditional foods into their home-education this week.
But there is concern some of the most strictly Orthodox (Haredi) Jews may not adhere to the rules as prayer is still permitted in places of worship.
Purim last year is thought to have played a part in why the UK’s Jewish community was affected so badly so early. Data suggests deaths among British Jews were 3.7 times higher than average in April 2020.
The holiday took place just a few weeks before lockdown was brought in, and featured poorly-ventilated rooms full of people crammed together.
Yom Kippur 2021: When is the holy Jewish festival and what is its significance?
The Jewish festival of Yom Kippur is perceived as the holiest day of the year in Judaism.
Taking place just over a week after the Jewish New Year, the festival is commemorated with a day-long fast.
The aim of the fast is to encourage Jewish people to reflect on their past year, repent for any wrongdoings and wish for a happy and healthy year ahead.
Here is everything you need to know about Yom Kippur:
When is it?
This year, Yom Kippur starts during the evening of Wednesday 15 September and ends during the evening of Thursday 16 September.
The fast, which is observed for approximately 25 hours, starts at 7.01pm and ends at 8pm the following day.
On the Jewish lunisolar calendar, Yom Kippur begins on the ninth day of the month of Tishrei and ends on the tenth day.
Tishrei is the first month of the civil year and the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year, according to the Jewish calendar.
It occurs at the end of the "10 Days of Repentance", a period that begins with the celebration of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.
What is its significance?
In Hebrew, "Yom" means "day" and "Kippur" means "to atone", which is why the observance is often referred to as the "Day of Atonement".
The day of repentance is marked with an annual fast, which commences and ends with a feast.
"Fasting is an opportunity for each of us to observe Yom Kippur in a most personal way," states Jewish education site My Jewish Learning.
"Fasting on Yom Kippur provides the key to our inner awakening."
According to Jewish belief, on Rosh Hashanah, Hashem (God) writes every person's name into special books, the "righteous" being written into the Book of Life and the "evil" being written into the Book of Death.
It is believed the names are written into the books on a temporary basis, with God giving his final judgement on Yom Kippur.
"In actuality, the vast majority of us are neither totally good or bad. We're more like 50/50, so we have a few more days until Yom Kippur to tip the scales," states a rabbi for Jewish organisation Aish.
How is it commemorated?
On Yom Kippur, Jewish people go to synagogue to hear and partake in prayer services.
The beginning of Yom Kippur is marked with the recital of a prayer service called Kol Nidre, which takes place at sundown on the eve of the festival.
"Ironically, it is not really a prayer at all, but rather a statement. A statement that deals with promises, vows and other sorts of verbal commitments commonly made in the course of the year," Orthodox Jewish organisation Chabad states.
On a typical day at synagogue, three prayer services are held.
However, on the Day of Atonement, an additional two prayer services are recited.
During the services, special passages are read from the Torah and "Vidui" – confessions – are chanted.
A special memorial prayer called "Yizkor" is also recited in synagogue on Yom Kippur.
The prayer is observed in memory of relatives and friends who have passed away.
When Jewish people go to synagogue on the day of the observance, it is customary to wear white, as a symbol of atonement and purity.
Those who are devout may also refrain from partaking in activities such as using electricity, driving, washing or wearing leather.
The end of the fast is marked by the blowing of the shofar, an ancient musical instrument typically made from a ram's horn.
The shofar is also blown on Rosh Hashanah and on every morning of the month of Elul, which precedes the Jewish New Year.
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30 Kislev 5782
Haftarah: Zechariah 4:1-7
Rosh Chodesh Hanukkah
At the end of two years' time Pharaoh had a dream: there he was, standing by the Nile, when seven cows came up out of the Nile, handsome and fat. - Genesis 41:1-2