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Culture & History


Sukkot, Feast of Booths, Feast of Tabernacles is a biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei (late September to late October). It follows the solemn holiday of Yom kippur.

When the sons of Israel were traveling in the desert, they lived in huts that are called "sukkot". Leviticus, 23,34: " The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord."

Deuteronomy, 16,13 :" Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine." 14, "And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates."

A sukka.

In Leviticus 23,40, 42,43: God told Moses to command the people : « On the first day you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook" and " You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt".

This agricultural holiday lasts seven days (eight in the diaspora). The Hebrew word sukkōt is the plural of sukkah, "booth or tabernacle", which is a walled structure covered with skhakh (plant material such as leafy tree overgrowth or palm leaves). The sukkah is intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the holiday meals are eaten inside the sukkah and many sleep there as well.


Since Sukkot celebrates the harvest in the land of Israel, another custom on Sukkot involves waving the lulav and etrog. Together the lulav and etrog represent the Four Species. The etrog is a kind of citron (related to a lemon), while the lulav is made of three myrtle twigs (hadassim), two willow twigs (aravot) and a palm frond (lulav). Because the palm frond is the largest of these plants, the myrtle and willow are wrapped around it. During Sukkot, the lulav and etrog are waved together while reciting special blessings.

The holiday immediately following Sukkot is known as Shemini Atzeret (lit. "Eighth [Day] of Assembly"). Shemini Atzeret is usually viewed as a separate holiday.In the Diaspora a second additional holiday, Simchat Torah (lit. "Joy of the Torah"), is celebrated.


Yom Kippur, also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.

Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora'im ("Days of Awe") that commences with Rosh Hashanah.
According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person's fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to "seal" the verdict. During the Days of Awe, a Jewish person tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings.The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt. At the end of Yom Kippur, one hopes that they have been forgiven by God.

As one of the most culturally significant Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur is observed by many secular Jews who may not observe other holidays.

Leviticus, 16.20,: "And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat;
21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess upon him all the iniquities of the children of Israel and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
22 And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness....
26 And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp...
29 And this shall be a statute for ever unto you that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do not work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:
30 For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.



Jonah and the Whale


Chapter 1
17- Now the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonas: and Jonas was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Chapter 2
Then Jonas prayed to the Lord his God out of the belly of the fish.
2 -And said: I cried out of my affliction to the Lord, and he heard me: I cried out of the belly of hell, and thou hast heard my voice.
3- And thou hast cast me forth into the deep in the heart of the sea, and a flood hath compassed me: all thy billows and thy waves have passed over me.
5- And I said: I am cast away out of the sight of thy eyes: but yet I shall see thy holy temple again.
6- I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.
7- When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.
8- They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
9- But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.
10- And the Lord spoke unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
In Israel, public transportation is interrupted during the whole day. Air traffic and audio-visual broadcasting is also suspended on this occasion. The celebration of Yom Kippour is punctuated by prayers and a fast during 25 hours. All access on Palestinian territory is forbidden during the day, except for emergency humanitarian staff for security reasons..
Rosh Hashanah
A day of judgment and coronation, the sounding of the shofar...

Yemenite-style shofar

Psalm 81

« Sing aloud unto God our strength :make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.
2- Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.
3- Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day…
10- I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the Land of Egypt:open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it…… “

The theme of the prayers is the "coronation" of God as King of the universe in preparation for the acceptance of judgments that will follow on that day.

According to the biblical story, God commands Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. (Genesis 22:5 and 22:8). After Isaac is bound to an altar, the angel of God stops Abraham at the last minute, saying "now I know you fear God." At this point Abraham sees a ram caught in some nearby bushes and sacrifices the ram instead of Isaac.

The shofar is blown in long, short and staccato blasts that follow a set sequence:
  • Teki'ah (long sound) Numbers 10:3;
  • Shevarim (3 broken sounds) Numbers 10:5;
  • Teru'ah (9 short sounds) Numbers 10:9;
  • Teki'ah Gedolah (very long sound) Exodus 19:16,19;
  • Shevarim Teru'ah (3 broken sounds followed by 9 short sounds).
The total number of blasts on Rosh Hashana is 100.

The shofar is traditionally blown each morning for the entire month of Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah. The sound of the shofar is intended to awaken the listeners from their "slumbers" and alert them to the coming judgment.The shofar is not blown on Shabbat

Symbolic foods

Traditional Rosh Hashanah foods: Apples and honey, pomegranates, wine for kiddush.

Rosh Hashanah meals usually include apples and honey, to symbolize a sweet new year. Other foods with a symbolic meaning may be served, depending on local minhag ("custom"), such as the head of a fish (to symbolize the "head" of the year).

Some of the symbolic foods eaten are dates, black-eyed peas, leek, spinach and gourd, all of which are mentioned in the Talmud. Pomegranates are used in many traditions, to symbolize being fruitful like the pomegranate with its many seeds. The use of apples and honey, symbolizing a sweet year, is a late medieval Ashkenazi addition, though it is now almost universally accepted. Typically, round challah bread is served, to symbolize the cycle of the year. Gefilte fish and Lekach are commonly served by Ashkenazic Jews on this holiday. On the second night, new fruits are served to warrant inclusion of the shehecheyanu blessing.


September 29th 2013
On September 29th 2013, this year's edition of the EDJC will evolve around "Jewish Heritage and Nature".
The relation between Judaism and Nature is manifold, on many different levels.
In order to deepen the understanding of this subject, we will present you over the next months, a series of articles, bibliographic references and similar.


 musee 1Core Exhibition
Building on the dynamic interaction between the Museum’s location on Independence Mall, the history and traditions of the Jewish people, and the broader national experience, the core exhibition highlights the diverse backgrounds, expectations, and experiences of Jews who came to and made their homes in the United States. Explore how and when Jews immigrated to America, the choices they faced, the challenges they confronted, and the ways in which they shaped, and were shaped by, their American home.
On each of the core exhibition’s three and a half floors you will encounter people, episodes, ideas, and experiences that highlight the religious, social, political, and economic lives of American Jews. You will see historical objects, enter period environments, and experience cutting-edge interactive technology. Learn about aspects of Jewish religious life, including major holidays, rituals, and lifecycle events.
4th floor — Foundations of Freedom: 1654 – 1880


Oldest complete Torah scroll reportedly found in Italy
University of Bologna says 850-year-old Jewish text, belonging to Babylonian tradition, was mislabeled by a librarian in 1889.
By Haaretz | May.29, 2013
An Italian university has found what it claims to be the oldest complete Torah scroll known to exist, the BBC reported on Tuesday.
The scroll, which was found at the library of the University of Bologna, was believed to be no more than a few hundred years old, the report said. But recent carbon dating tests suggest it was written some 850 years ago, making it the oldest complete Torah ever found, Mauro Perani, the university's Hebrew professor said.

According to the university, the ancient text was not lost, but was mislabeled in 1889 after one of the its librarians dated it to the 17th century.
After re-examining the scroll, Perani determined it belongs to the Babylonian tradition. Perani also recognized in the writings features that were forbidden in later versions of the Torah.


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