With Judaism having such a large presence in Israel, there is no shortage of Jewish celebrations in the Holy Land. Whether you are journeying for cultural, vacation, or religious reasons, Jewish festivals and holidays offer plenty for everyone to enjoy. Here are some of the most popular Jewish holidays in Israel to look out for while on your trip.
Passover celebrates the liberation of the Hebrews from Egypt’s oppression. The seven-day holiday features a large, there-course meal, blessings, songs, and many other elements done in remembrance of how God faithfully rescued them from Pharaoh’s oppression. The main food is served through a Seder, which is a ceremonial dinner marking the beginning of the Passover. While the Seder is being served, the story of Exodus is read aloud for the family to remember the reason for their celebration. On the Jewish calendar, Passover occurs from the 15th to the 21st of Nissan.
The Festival of Lights, Hanukah (sometimes pronounced Chanukah) is the eight-day Jewish holiday that celebrates the Jewish people reclaiming their holy temple after it was defiled by the Seleucid Empire. Each night, one of the eight candles on the menorah is lit until the menorah is complete on the eighth night. Food is usually served fried with oil (referencing the oil burning the menorah candles) along with a gift each night for every member of the family. On the Jewish calendar, Hanukah occurs from the 25th Kislev to the 2nd or 3rd of Tevet.
Also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles, Sukkot is the day of remembrance for how God took care of the Jewish people during their desert journey to the Promised Land. Held over the course of four days, people traditionally move into temporary huts known as sukkahs. The sukkahs are made to reflect the tabernacle shelters that the Hebrews would rest under during their journey. On the Jewish calendar, Sukkot occurs from the 15th to the 21st of Tishri.
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. It is meant to examine the relationship between God and mankind. This is done through both celebrating God’s creation and acknowledging judgment for our actions. It is a day for both thanksgiving and seeing how we can better improve our character in the New Year. On the Jewish calendar, the New Year is the 1st of Tishrei.
Also called the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot is the day of Pentecost for the Jewish people. This is the day where the Jewish people give thanks for God giving them the Torah. Of all the Jewish holidays in Israel, Shavuot is certainly one of the most foundational in the modern Jewish lifestyle. Dairy products are often shared on this day, each with creative recipes. On the Jewish calendar, the day of Shavuot is the 6th of Sivan.
No matter which date you visit on, holidays in Israel carry significant importance to Jewish history. No matter what your faith is, when you come to Israel you will be able to see the beauty of each day’s traditions, as well as the emotions that they bring out in the people. Be sure to check out our weekly Escorted Jewish Heritage Tours for further information on how you can experience an Israeli holiday celebration. Also, click here to see our Classic Israel Tours options.