Jewish Holidays

Rosh Hashanah

(ROESH hah-SHUH-nuh) or (RUSH hah-SHUH-nuh)
Rosh Hashanah makes the start of the Jewish New Year and a 10-day period of spiritual self-examination and repentance that concludes with Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur

Called the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish year and is observed as a day of prayer and fasting.


(sue-COAT) or (SOOK-iss)
On the joyful holiday of Sukkot, we give thanks for the fall harvest. This holiday is symbolized by the sukkah (hut), which represents the huts built by farmers when they lived in the fields for days at a time tending their crops. It also represents the huts that God told Moses to build for shelter in the desert when he led the Jews out of Egypt. The sukkah symbolizes that God protects and provides.

Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah

(SHMIN-ee-aht-SAIR-et) and (SIM-khat TOE-rah)
This holiday marks the conclusion of the Sukkot festival and the time when we take leave of the sukkah.
Simchat Torah is a joyous holiday that marks the completion of the annual cycle of reading the Torah.


Chanukah reminds us of the endurance of the Jewish people and commemorates two events in Jewish history.

  1. The Jews’ military victory led by the Maccabees over the Greeks more than 2,100 years ago, and their cultural victory over assimilated Jews after Judaism was outlawed in ancient Syria.
  2. The rededication of the destroyed Temple and the miracle of one night’s worth of oil burning in the Temple’s lamp foreight day

Tu B’Shevat

Tu B’Shevat celebrates the beginning of spring in Israel and provides a focus on the importance of trees and ecology in the Jewish tradition. It is customary to plant trees or donate money for the planting of trees in celebration of Tu B’Shevat.

The York JCC coordinates donations to the Jewish National Fund for the addition of trees to the York Peace Forest Project, demonstrating the special relationship between York and the state of Israel. To purchase trees, pick up a form at the front desk or contact Cheryl Toomey. The cost of each tree is $10 and trees purchased as gifts are acknowledged with handsome certificates.


Purim celebrates a time in Sushan, Persia, around 450 BCE when the Jewish Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai, triumphed over wicked Haman, advisor to King Ahashverosh, who plotted to exterminate the Jews. Traditions include wearing costumes, merry-making at community carnivals, and drowning out Haman’s name in a noisy manner during congregational services.

Passover or Pesach

Passover commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from more than two centuries of Egyptian bondage. It recalls their exodus, led by Moses, about 3,300 years ago. Those observing Passover refrain from eating leavened products. Instead of bread, they eat matzah (unleavened bread, the consistency of a cracker) and participate in seders, the ceremonial meal and recounting of the exodus. The York JCC honors these dietary restrictions and snack machines are not available during Passover.


(shuh-VOO-ote or shah-VOO-us)
Shavuot marks the time when Moses and the Jews received the Ten Commandments (the foundation of the Torah) from God at Mt. Sinai. It is also an agricultural festival celebrating the first fruits of the season and it is traditional to eat a dairy meal.

Tisha B’Av

(TISH-a bah-AHV)
Tisha B’Av is a day of mourning for the destruction of the Jerusalem temples, the Holocaust, and the Crusades. There is a tradition of fasting and prayer.