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Holidays and Observances

This guide provides information about diverse cultural celebrations and religious holidays. It includes calendars and brief descriptions of the events. This resource can assist in event planning and classroom activities.

Jewish Holidays and Observances

Kosher restrictions apply: Jewish dietary guidelines which apply daily throughout the year.  These restrictions include pork, shellfish (fish is allowed) and mixing meat with dairy.


Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance. Note that 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


Chanukah (Hanukkah) — Chanukah ("Dedication") is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with nightly menorah lighting, special prayers, and fried foods.


Erev Pesach — Fast of the Firstborn. Observed only by a fast of the firstborn males, it marks the beginning of Passover ("Passover Eve").


Erev Rosh Hashanah — The night before Rosh Hashanah, characterized by preparations for the Jewish New Year Celebration.


Kol Nidre — Eve of Yom Kippur, specifically the prayer starting the evening service on the Eve of Yom Kippur . This begins the ending of the 10 Days of Awe.  The night is devoted to prayer, repentance, and fasting.  It is considered the Sabbath of Sabbaths.


Rosh Hashanah —  It is the birthday of the universe, the day G‑d created Adam and Eve, and it’s celebrated as the beginning of the Jewish year. Two-day festival for reflection and planning for the future.  Services are held and labor is not permitted.

Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities. Food accommodations should be made for events.


Passover — ("Pesach" in Hebrew)  celebrated by Jews every year, commemorating the anniversary of the Biblical Exodus from Egyptian slavery. The first two and last two days of Passover require all labor to end.

Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities. Food accommodations should be made for events. Besides Kosher restrictions, the use of leavening is prohibited; matzah is eaten in place of bread. 


Purim —commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian empire from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.”. This is a carnival-like celebration with readings from the Book of Esther.  No work or school restrictions accompany this day.


Simchat Torah — Jewish religious observance held on the last day of Sukkot (“Festival of Booths”), when the yearly cycle of Torah reading is completed and the next cycle is begun.

Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities. Food accommodations should be made for events.


Shemini Atzeret -- A fall festival on the last night of Sukkot that includes a memorial service for the dead.

Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities. Food accommodations should be made for events.


Shavuot -- Celebrates the day that G‑d gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai more than 3,000 years ago.

Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities. Kosher restrictions apply but it is customary to eat dairy.


Sukkot — Feast of the Tabernacles. Commemorates G‑d sheltering his people as they traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land. The celebration lasts for 7 days with no labor for the first two days.

Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities. Food accommodations should be made for events.


Tisha B'Av -- Commemorates a series of Jewish tragedies including the destruction of the first and second temples of Jerusalem. Includes fasting.

Plan limited activities after a fast.


Tu B'Shevat — New Year for Trees. Anniversary for all trees planted that year. 


Yom Hashoah — Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day. Closest day to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. 


Yom Kippur — Day of Atonement. The holiest day of the year, spent in prayer and denial, including fasting for over 25 hours.  No labor or travel is possible.

Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities and after a day of fasting.


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