All Services, including the High Holy Days, are FREE for all! All services are ASL interpreted. S’lichot, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Services will be held via Zoom and YouTube in 2021. To request a Zoom link, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 847.677.3330. For YouTube, subscribe to our YouTube channel here.
The High Holy Days are a time for joy, reflection, introspection, prayer, learning, and re-connection.
S’LICHOT, a Hebrew word meaning “forgiveness,” ushers in the holiday season. It is a beautiful service that takes place just prior to Rosh Hashanah. Lit only by candlelight, it is a spiritually-uplifting time, as each of us prepares for the High Holy Days.
Join us for a wonderful program, a meaningful service, camaraderie, and refreshments.
ROSH HASHANAH (“Head of the Year”) is the celebration of the Jewish New Year, observed on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. It marks the beginning of a ten-day period of prayer and self-examination. With emphasis on happiness and humility, special customs observed on Rosh Hashanah include: the sounding of the shofar, using round challah, and eating apples and honey (and other sweet foods) for a sweet new year.
YOM KIPPUR is the “Day of Atonement” and refers to the annual Jewish observance of fasting, prayer, and repentance. This is considered to be the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. The Yom Kippur fast enables us to put aside our physical desires and to concentrate on our spiritual needs through prayer, repentance, and self-improvement. It is customary in the days before Yom Kippur for Jews to seek out friends and family whom they have wronged and to personally ask for their forgiveness.
We invite you to share the spirit, joy, and wisdom of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with us at Congregation Bene Shalom. Come hear the blowing of the shofar, and join our congregational family for a spiritually meaningful High Holy Day experience.
Please contact the Temple office by calling 847.677.3330 to place names in the Virtual Book of Remembrance.
Holidays and Festivals
SUKKOT, a Hebrew word meaning “booths” or “huts,” refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest, as well as the commemoration of the forty years of Jewish wandering in the desert after Sinai. Sukkot is observed by building a sukkah (a booth or hut). People celebrate in the sukkah during this festival to eat, pray, and rejoice, and by giving tzedakah, and blessing the lulav and etrog. Yet, even while we rejoice, the temporary and fragile nature of the sukkah reminds us just how precarious life can be. The lulav and etrog remind us of how dependent we are upon God for the food we eat.
SIMCHAT TORAH is a joyous event, celebrating our Torah. Children and adults alike take part in the hakafot processional, waving holiday or Israeli flags in their hands.
At Congregation Bene Shalom our rabbis and congregants unroll the entire Torah scroll and hold it up high, as music and singing abounds. Then, the Torah is read, first by reading the end of the Torah (Hatan Torah, Deuteronomy), and then we start again at the beginning (Hatan Bereshit, Genesis).
The Torah continues to be held, encircling those praying in the center, as everyone has his/her time in the center of this holy and joyous event. Then, as the Torah is re-rolled, the music and singing continue.
CHANUKAH, meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, refers to the joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Macabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E., and the subsequent liberation and “re-dedication” of the Temple in Jerusalem. The modern home celebration of Chanukah centers around the lighting of the Chanukiah, a special menorah for Chanukah; unique foods, latkes; jelly doughnuts; and special songs and games.
PURIM is celebrated by the reading of the Scroll of Esther, known in Hebrew as the Megillat Esther, which relates the basic story of Purim. It is a festival of joy and good fellowship. It is also a commemoration of the victory of the Jewish people over Haman, the evil Prime Minister of King Achashvayrosh in ancient Persia. It tells the story of Esther and Mordechai and their brave campaign to save the Jewish people from massacre.
Giving money to at least two poor people on the day of Purim is a mitzvah that we are commanded to fulfill. The gift should equal at least the value of a fast food meal. This is not a “family” obligation, but rather each person should perform the mitzvah him/herself.
PASSOVER commemorates the Hebrews’ Exodus from Egypt. This eight-day celebration appears in the Torah as Chag Hamatzot (the Festival of Unleavened Bread). Traditional Jews clean, scour, and remove any trace of leavening (chametz). Chametz is any leavened bread or products that contain the fermented products of five kinds of grain—-wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt.
The Seder is the highlight of the Passover observance, with many symbolic foods and liturgy based on the Haggadah. The word seder means order, and the Seder itself follows an order handed down through generations as a means to retell the story of our forebearers’ liberation from bondage in Egypt. Through stories and prayers, the Haggadah provides a logical telling of this important chapter in our Jewish history. Many families hold a seder on both the first and second evenings of Passover. Congregation Bene Shalom customarily holds our congregational seder on the second night each year.
The telling of the Passover story acknowledges that slavery is not limited to physical bondage. Spiritual bondage and social degradation also deprive the human spirit of liberty. Pesach is an annual reminder that we have a responsibility to those who are oppressed or enslaved, whether it is physically, intellectually, or ideologically. On Passover we celebrate not only for ourselves, but also for those who may not be able to celebrate Passover themselves in freedom. We are to remember to invite those who may have no where to celebrate: “Let all who are hungry come and eat.”
SHAVUOT is a Hebrew word meaning “weeks” and refers to the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is also thought to be a mystical night when the heavens open up, and we have a direct link to God.
One tradition of Shavuot includes staying up all night to study Torah and Mishnah, a custom called Tikkun Leil Shavuot, which symbolizes our commitment to the Torah, and that we are always ready and awake to receive the Torah. Traditionally dairy dishes are served on this holiday to symbolize the sweetness of the Torah, as well as the “land of milk and honey.”