Sukkot is one of three Jewish holidays known as the pilgrimage festivals. In ancient Israel at this time of the year, throngs of people would make a pilgrimage to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem so that the priests could offer sacrifices to God on their behalf. Like the other pilgrimage holidays, Sukkot has both an agricultural and a historical significance. Agriculturally, Sukkot celebrates the fall harvest; historically, it commemorates the 40-year period during which the Children of Israel wandered in the desert. Continue reading
Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, begins today at sundown. The holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar, it marks the end of the Days of Awe, a ten-day cycle during the Jewish High Holidays that begins with the Jewish New Year at Rosh Hashanah. The holiday is observed with a day of fasting and prayer as penance for past sins. The shofar — an ancient instrument crafted from a ram’s horn — blasts its plaintive wail tomorrow at sunset to signal the closing of Yom Kippur, and an end to the day-long fast.