Summary of the Jewish Holidays

All Jewish holidays begin the evening before the date specified on most calendars. This is because a Jewish "day" begins and ends at sunset, rather than at midnight. Many Jews do not work or attend school on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the first and second days of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, Shavuot and the first, second, seventh and eighth days of Passover.

View a calendar of the major Jewish holidays through 2016.

Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. Traditions include eating apples dipped in honey and blowing the shofar (ram’s horn). Most Jews attend synagogue on these days and the preceding evening.

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
Yom Kippur is considered by Jews to be the holiest and most solemn day of the year. Fasting begins at sundown and ends after nightfall the following day. Most Jews attend synagogue on this day and the preceding evening.

Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)
Sukkot is a seven-day festival, also known as the Feast of Booths, the Festival of Booths, the Feast of Tabernacles, or just Tabernacles. It is one of the three pilgrimage festivals mentioned in the Bible. Sukkot is celebrated by the building of a sukkah, or temporary dwelling, outdoors.

Shemini Atzeret (Eighth Day of Sukkot)
This holiday immediately follows the conclusion of the holiday of Sukkot.

Simchat Torah (Rejoicing of the Law)
This holiday immediately follows the holidays of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret, and it concludes and begins anew the annual reading cycle of the Torah (Five Books of Moses), which is the Jewish Bible.

Hanukkah (Festival of Lights)
Hanukkah (or Chanukah) is an eight-day festival marked by the lighting of candles—one on the first night, two on the second and so on—using a special candle holder called a menorah or chanukiah. Although not a major Jewish holiday, its popularity has increased in recent years, especially among American Jews. Traditions include a game involving the spinning of dreidels (tops), eating potato latkes (pancakes) and gift-giving.

Tu B'Shevat
Tu B'Shevat is a holiday intimately connected to the agricultural cycle of the Land of Israel. Today, this holiday is often celebrated by planting saplings and also by participating in a seder-meal that echoes the Passover seder, in which the produce of trees, including fruits and nuts, are eaten. Learn more.

Purim is one of the most joyous holidays on the Jewish calendar. Purim commemorates the events that took place in the Book of Esther. Traditions include masquerading in costumes and giving care packages to the poor and the needy. Learn more.

Passover (Pesach)
Passover (or Pesach) commemorates the liberation of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. A feast called a seder is held on the first two nights and sometimes on the final two nights of the eight-day holiday. No leavened food (e.g., bread, cake) or anything containing wheat is eaten during Passover.

Concluding Days of Passover (Pesach)
During the last two days of Passover, no work is permitted.

Shavuot (Feast of Weeks)
Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, is also know as "Pentecost."  According to Rabbinic tradition, the Ten Commandments were given on this day. It is traditional to eat dairy meals during Shavuot.