Because of the idiosyncrasies of following both a Jewish calendar, which follows the cycles of the moon, and a Secular calendar, which is set by the Earth’s rotation around the sun, 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 upon us. That will be the case this year, my friends, so be ready. All of our Jewish holidays are going to be early this year. So early, in fact, that if we aren’t thinking ahead, we could easily miss some of them.
For example,Tu B’shvat, The New Year for Trees, is tonight. Most years, we celebrate this holiday in February. But this year it happened to be tonight, January 28th. I hope you are able to join us for our seder (over Zoom, unfortunately). If you miss 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 over a 100 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 February 26th this year. This too will be celebrated over Zoom (unfortunately), but will still include a Megillah reading, with singing and costumes and merriment. Sadly, Purim was the last holiday we celebrated in person before we started isolating and quarantining, so it sort of marks a full year of pandemic protocols.
The first night of Passover is March 27th. Though our second night community seder will also be a Zoom seder once again, I am hopeful that we will be seeing more and more of our congregation vaccinated against the coronavirus by this time.
Rosh Hashanah begins on September 6th, and I am cautiously optimistic that we will be back in the building together by the time we get there. While Chanukah will be starting at the end of November. If you happen to fry your Thanksgiving turkey, it would make the perfect leftovers that weekend as you light the lights for the first night of Chanukah.
This Jewish year promises to be different in a lot ways. But, hopefully, we will also see it return us to normal in it’s own ways too.
May it be a happy, healthy, and sweet year for us all.