11/28/2013 - 12/5/2013
Dates for Jewish Holidays for 5774
Dates for the 2013-14 academic year
- Holidays begin at sunset the night before
- "Work" is forbidden on many holidays
- Some holidays are one day longer than the Bible says
- Holidays fall on different dates every year
When Holiday Begins
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. If you read the story of creation in Genesis Ch. 1, you will notice that it says, "And there was evening, and there was morning, one day." From this, we infer that a day begins with evening, that is, sunset. Holidays end at nightfall of the date specified on most calendars; that is, at the time when it becomes dark out, about an hour after sunset.
For the precise time when a holiday begins and ends in your area, consult the list of candle lighting times provided any Jewish calendar.
Work on Holidays
Work is not permitted on Rosh Hashanah, on Yom Kippur, on the first and second days of Sukkot, on Shemini Atzeret, on Simchat Torah, on Shavu’ot, and the first, second, seventh and eighth days of Passover. The "work" prohibited on those holidays is the same as that prohibited on Shabbat, except that cooking, baking, transferring fire and carrying, all of which are forbidden on Shabbat, are permitted on holidays. When a holiday occurs on Shabbat, the full Shabbat restrictions are observed.
For observant Jews who work in the secular gentile world, this can be problematic in some years: if all of the non-working holidays fall on weekdays (as they sometimes do), an observant Jew would need to take 13 days off of work just to observe holidays. This is more vacation time that some people have available.
Extra Day of Holidays
You may notice that the number of days of some holidays do not accord with what the Bible specifies. In most cases, we celebrate one more day than the Bible requires. There is an interesting reason for this additional day.
The Jewish calendar is lunar, with each month beginning on the new moon. The new months used to be determined by observation. When the new moon was observed, the Sanhedrin declared the beginning of a new month and sent out messengers to tell people when the month began. People in distant communities could not always be notified of the new moon (and therefore, of the first day of the month), so they did not know the correct day to celebrate. They knew that the old month would be either 29 or 30 days, so if they didn't get notice of the new moon, they celebrated holidays on both possible days.
This practice of celebrating an extra day was maintained as a custom even after we adopted a precise mathematical calendar, because it was the custom of our ancestors. This extra day is not celebrated by Israelis, regardless of whether they are in Israel at the time of the holiday, because it is not the custom of their ancestors, but it is celebrated by everybody else, even if they are visiting Israel at the time of the holiday.
List of All Holiday Dates
Below is a list of all major holiday dates for the four five years. All holidays begin at sundown on the date before the date specified here.