Torah Scroll, Ioánnina, Greece, mid-late 19th century. The Jewish Museum, New York. Gift of Leon and Selma Cohen in memory of Morris and Mollie Cohen. © Photo The Jewish Museum, New York by Ardon Bar Hama.
The Torah, as the Old Testament is called in Hebrew, is the core narrative of the Jewish faith. Every Sabbath, a portion of the Torah is chanted in the synagogue. It takes a year to complete the entire cycle through the five major portions of the Torah, also called the five books of Moses or the Pentateuch. Simchat Torah celebrates the completion and restarting of the cycle of reading the entire Torah. Continue reading
Allan Wexler, Study Model for Sukkah, 1998-85. Photographer: Richard Goodbody, Photo © The Jewish Museum, New York.
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
Shofar, Dieburg (Germany), 1781/82. Photographer: Richard Goodbody, Photo © The Jewish Museum, New York. Gift of Carrie Bachrach Abraham.
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.