History of Shavuot: The Feast of Weeks

Shavuot poster, late 1940s

HISTORY OF SHAVUOT Tonight at sunset, June 11, begins the Jewish holiday Shavuot, also known as the Feast of Weeks, and continues until sundown on June 13. The holiday, also known in Greek as Pentecost, is on the sixth day of the Hebrew lunarsolar calendar month of Sivan, which means that in the Gregorian solar…

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History of Pentecost


HISTORY OF PENTECOST The Feast of Pentecost is taken from the Greek word πεντηκόστη, which means “the 50th,” referring to the fiftieth day after the Jewish Passover and the Christian Easter. In the Jewish calendar, this aligns with the harvest festival Shavuot, known as the “Feast of Weeks,” which occurs seven weeks (7 × 7…

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History of Holocaust Remembrance Day


History of Holocaust Remembrance Day Today, at sunset, May 5, begins Holocaust Remembrance Day in America. It is a part of the eight Holocaust Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust (DRVH), established by the U.S. Congress as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. The U.S. Army remembers the six million Jews…

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History of Passover: the Jewish Pesach Holiday

Passover Seder

HISTORY OF PASSOVER Sunset tonight, April 22, marks the beginning of Passover. Exodus 12 in the Hebrew Bible tells the story of Passover from the life of Moses. Ten plagues were visited upon the Egyptian pharaoh (starring Yul Brenner in “The Ten Commandments,” though he was better in “The King and I“) to get his…

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History of Purim: The Story of Esther


HISTORY OF PURIM HISTORY OF PURIM Purim, or “lots,” is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the saving of the Jewish people from annihilation during the Achaemenid Empire, around five centuries before Christ, as recounted in the Old Testament Book of Esther. This was during the reign of the Persian King Ahasuerus. It is celebrated today as…

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History of Chanukah: The Festival of Lights


HISTORY OF CHANUKAH Today, at sundown, December 7th begins Chanukah. It is more commonly spelled Hanukkah; both are a transliteration of the Hebrew word חֲנֻכָּה‎ , meaning “dedication.” This Jewish holiday traces its roots back more than 2,000 years.   Events Leading Up to Chanukah At that time, the Jewish people were living under the…

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History of Sukkot: Festival of Booths


HISTORY OF SUKKOT: FESTIVAL OF BOOTHS Beginning at sunset on September 29 and ending at nightfall on October 6 is the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Festival of Booths or Festival of Tabernacles. The Old Testament book of Leviticus discusses the Exodus from slavery in Egypt of the Children of Israel. They were to commemorate it by…

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History of Yom Kippur: Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur

HISTORY OF YOM KIPPUR The Jewish High Holy Days begin with Rosh HaShanah and continue until Yom Kippur, which starts at sundown tonight. It is the holiest day of the year and marks the end of these 10 Days of Repentance, which begin with the Jewish New Year — as I described in my article on…

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History of Rosh Hashanah: Jewish New Year

Rosh Hashanah

HISTORY OF ROSH HASHANAH Rosh HaShanah designates the beginning of the Jewish new year, starting tonight – which, according to the Jewish calendar, begins at sundown tonight. “Rosh” is Hebrew for “head,” and Rosh HaShanah, or Rosh HaShana, refers to the head of the year on the 1st day of Tishri, the seventh month of…

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Jerusalem in a Day, part 3

jerusalem aerial temple mount

HISTORY IN JERUSALEM: ISLAMIC TRADITION In Part 1, I discussed some of the Christian sites in the city of Jerusalem. In Part 2, I discussed the Jewish tradition. In this final article, I’ll examine the third most important Muslim site in the world, after Mecca and Medina. Urusalim (Jerusalem) gets its name from the Canaanites,…

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Jerusalem in a Day, part 2

oldcityjerusalem01 st 06

HISTORY IN JERUSALEM: JEWISH TRADITION In Part 1, I discussed some of the Christian sites in the city of Jerusalem. Here, we discuss the Jewish tradition. In 1995 Jerusalem celebrated 3,000 years of the City of David, commemorating when King David entered the city and made it his capital, rather than Hebron. It was a…

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