Religious Holidays Quiz

Handy Religion 2e
ISBN: 9781578593798

Besides the High Holy Days and Passover, what are among the other Jewish great feasts of pilgrimage and remembrance, and are any other regular observances significant in the Jewish ritual year?

The feast of Shavuot ("Weeks") begins seven weeks after Passover. Originally coinciding with the wheat harvest, the Feast of Weeks recalls Israel's spiritual harvest of the divine Law at Sinai. The feast occurs on the 6th of Sivan (a day longer outside Israel), the fiftieth day (pentecost in Greek) after Passover, marking the end of the "days of the omer" ("sheaf") in reference to the ancient practice of bringing the first sheaves of barley as a Temple offering. The third of the great holidays is Sukkot, the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles. Five days after the Day of Atonement, from the 15th to the 23rd of Tishri (a day longer outside Israel, except in Reform congregations) Jews celebrate this harvest festival marking the end of the vintage season. Many families construct small symbolic structures in the backyard, recalling as they take their meals there how God sheltered the people through the wilderness of the Exodus. Along with Passover and Shavuot, this was a pilgrimage feast before the destruction of the Temple, when many traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate. Families bless four plants as symbols of unity in diversity. Holding in the left hand a citrus called the ethrog, and in the right a bound cluster of one palm, two willow, and three myrtle branches (together called the lulav), they make gestures of blessing and sing Hosanna, "Save us."

Three days of fasting and mourning, two in summer and one in winter, are connected to remembrance of the First and Second Temples. Tisha b'Av (the Ninth of Av) is a day of lamentation for the destruction of Solomon's Temple in 586 b.c.e. Israeli Jews and pilgrims gather at the Western Wall of the Herodian Temple to grieve over the loss. The short biblical book called Lamentations is a traditional reading for the occasion. Associated rituals have given the remains of the Temple the popular name the "Wailing Wall." Eight days after Hanukkah, on the 10th of Tevet, another fast commemorates the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar's initial siege of Jerusalem in 587 b.c.e. In more recent times the occasion has become associated with mourning for victims of the Holocaust. On the 17th of Tammuz, a less popular occasion, some Jews fast to recall the times when the armies of Nebuchadnezzar and Titus first broke through the walls of the Temple in 587/6 b.c.e. and 70 c.e., respectively. Finally, there are two other minor observances. One is the 15th of Shevat, the New Year for Trees (Rosh ha-Shanah le-Ilanot), a day of thanks to God for the bounty of the earth. The other is called Simchat Torah ("Rejoicing in the Torah"). The day after the Feast of Booths, Jews celebrate the end of the annual cycle of liturgical readings with processions in which the scrolls are carried around the synagogue with children leading the crowd.

From The Handy Religion Answer Book, Second Edition by Jack Rendard, Ph.D., (c) 2012 Visible Ink Press(R). Your Guide to the World's Major Faiths

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