Because of the idiosyncrasies of following both a Lunar calendar, for our Jewish year, and a Solar calendar, which sets the secular year and marks the seasons, our Jewish holidays never fall on the same dates, from year to year. Most of the time, this isn’t a big deal. We know that Passover is a Spring holiday, typically falling in early or mid April, that the High Holy Days are in the Fall, around late September, and Chanukah is a Winter festival that starts in December. So we check a calendar, when the time is near, and pinpoint the exact date for any given year, and celebrate accordingly.
Some years, however, the two calendars are so far apart from one another, it almost feels like we are no where near ready for the holidays to be occurring. That will be the case this year, my friends, so be ready. All of our Jewish holidays are going to be early this year because next year is the actual leap year for our Jewish calendar. So early, in fact, that if we aren’t thinking ahead, we could easily miss some of them.
For example, by the time you read this, Tu B’shvat, The New Year for Trees, will have already come and gone. Most years, we celebrate this holiday in February. But this year it happened to be on January 31st. I hope you were able to join us for our seder. If you missed the seder, one of the other ways we celebrate Tu B’shvat is to plant trees. The Jewish National Fund has been planting trees in Israel for 117 years. They have truly made forests out of land that used to be desert. Please follow this link to www.jnf.org if you’d like to have a tree planted for you or someone else.
Purim, which usually falls sometime in March, is actually this coming Wednesday, February 28th. We will be celebrating, as we always do, with a service and Megillah reading starting at 6:00 pm, and with singing, costumes, and merriment. Come and “boo” Haman with us and cheer on our heroes, Esther and Mordecai. I hope you can join us.
Then there is Passover, which is also early this year. The first night is Friday, March 30th. There won’t be regular Shabbat services that evening so that we can all enjoy our seders at home. Instead we will be having Shabbat morning services the next day, March 31st at 10:00 am. Followed by our 2nd Night Community Seder at 6:00 pm that evening.
It may still be February, in our secular lives, with snow on the ground and cold weather in our future, but our Jewish lives are signaling Spring. Passover is just around the corner, sooner than you may think, with it’s promises of freedom, redemption, and Matzah Ball Soup.