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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) — Festival of Lights. Celebration lasts for 8 days of prayer, gift giving, and lighting of the Menorah.


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


Erev Rosh Hashanah — Nine Nights.  The celebration and festival last for nine nights and ten days, ending with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).  All labor and travel ends.


Kol Nidre — Eve of Day of Atonement. 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 — Jewish New 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 — Marks the liberation from Egypt. 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 — Celebrates deliverance from Persia. This is a carnival and readings from the Book of Esther.  No work or school restrictions accompany this day.


Simchat Torah — Rejoicing in the Torah. End of the weekly Torah Readings for the year. 

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 -- Commemorates the receipt of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

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


Sukkot — Feast of the Tabernacles. 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. Most sacred day, spent in the synagogue.  Fasting lasts 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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