Understanding Tisha B’Av
Tisha B’Av, literally the ninth day of the month of Av, begins this year the evening of Saturday, July 21st. Its observance is frequently overlooked because it falls in the middle of the summer. If, like many people, you know very little about this holiday, here is a good background from MyJewishLearning.
On Tisha B’Av, it is traditional to read Megillat Eicha(Book of Lamentations). Here is a brief explanation of its contents. Eicha is chanted to a unique trope (melody). You can hear it here.
We also suggest watching this video from Aleph Beta that explains how to keep this holiday relevant.
As a day of mourning, it’s customary to fast on Tisha B’Av. In addition, one should refrain from eating meat (except on Shabbat) for the nine days leading up to Tisha B’Av. Check out all of the meatless recipes from the Joy of Kosher to make meal planning easier.
Celebrating Shavuot 2018
This year, Shavuot begins the Saturday evening May 19. ReformJudaism.org provides a great basic summary of the holiday.
It is a tradition in some communities for people to stay up all night studying. Here is an explanation of the custom from My Jewish Learning.
If staying up all night is not your thing, how about reading the Book of Ruth on Shavuot? Here is a video from Aleph Beta explaining why we read this text on this holiday.
Shavuot is unique among the Jewish holidays in that instead of eating chicken or brisket, it is traditional to have dairy foods for Shavuot. There are actually many different reasons given for this custom. Here are a few from Chabad.
Two of the most popular dairy foods are blintzes and cheese cake. Here is a recipe for blintzes from Tori Avery and one for ‘Oreo Experience Cheesecake’ from Joy of Kosher.
Chag Shavuot Sameach – however you celebrate!
Making Passover More Meaningful
Many of you may still be clearing away snow, but Passover is just around the corner. Here are some ideas to make your holiday more meaningful.
Do the kids get fidgety during the seder? Try putting these fun props on the table. And for fidgety grownups, consider using this humorous haggadah: “For This We Left Egypt?”
Is your family is more traditional? Author Jonathan Safran Foer has compiled a haggadah with traditional text accompanied by essays written by other modern Jewish writers.
Do you buy a roasted shank bone for your seder plate? Ready to try roasting one of your own? Here’s how you can do it yourself. Also, you shouldn’t have to go a week without brownies, so here is a kosher for Passover (and gluten free) brownie recipe.
And just when you think you have learned everything you need to know, here are 9 things you didn’t know about Passover from MyJewishLearning.
The holiday of Purim begins at sundown on Wednesday February, 28th. Although the kids always look forward to the carnivals held in many communities, there are lots of fun ways for the whole family to observe the holiday.
If you have ever wondered why it is customary to dress up in costume, Chabad has some answers for you. It is also traditional to send baskets of goodies called Mishloach Manot. And if you are ready to try making your own hamantaschen, here is a simple recipe from Bon Appetit.
If you can’t make it to synagogue to hear the whole magillah you can do so here, or maybe you prefer just the basic plot and themes.
And in this age of #MeToo, maybe it is time to give the character of Vashti a rethink.
However you celebrate, we wish you a Chag Purim Sameach, Happy Purim.
Simple Ways to Celebrate Tu B’Shvat
Happy New Year! Did you know that there were actually four different New Year’s days in the Jewish Calendar? One of them, Tu B’Shvat, sometimes called the Birthday of the Trees, begins on Tue. Jan 30st. You can find out about the other 3 at MyJewishLearning.
In many parts of the country it is still too cold to be outside enjoying trees, but you can always plant a tree in Israel. Or, PJ Library has 9 other ways you can celebrate Tu B’Shevat.
It is also a custom in many communities to hold a Tu B’Shvat Seder. Each of the four cups of wine represents a different season, and the seder plate represents different types of foods. You can read more about that and even download some examples from ReformJudaism.org, or if you prefer, here is one from Hazon.
If a whole Seder is too much for you, the Joy of Kosher has some recipes that incorporate the seven species of foods that are represented in a Tu B’Shvat Seder.