Saturday, August 3, 2013

Jewish Holiday Calendar 2013-2014

Here's a guide to scheduling around the Jewish holy days that I thought you might find useful.   I didn't write it, only edited it slightly and updated it each year, but I vouch for its accuracy.

Category I.     MOST JEWS PARTICIPATE.  Please do not schedule meetings around these dates.

ROSH HASHANAH (Jewish New Year) begins at sunset Wednesday, September 4, 2013 and continues through Friday, September 6.

YOM KIPPUR (Day of Repentance) begins at sunset on Friday, September 13 and continues through Saturday, September 14.  While Yom Kippur is a fasting day, meals are prepared in advance for the breaking of the fast at the end of 27 hours.

Typically, even some of the least religiously observant members of the Jewish community do not work on Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah.   Please keep in mind that even though the holy day may begin at sunset, these are home ritual centered holy days, so a great deal of advance preparation is required.  In other words, please don't schedule a meeting for the afternoon preceding Rosh Hashanah because I will be cooking!

PASSOVER (Celebration of Freedom from Slavery in Egypt) begins at sunset on Monday, April 14, 2014; continues through nightfall on Tuesday, April 22.   THE FIRST TWO DAYS (through Wednesday evening, April 16) require refraining from work.   LOTS of cooking and preparation before this holy day.

Category II.   Many observant Jews refrain from work.  I count myself as

SUKKOT (Festival of Booths, or Tabernacles) begins at sunset Wednesday, September 18, and lasts through Wednesday, September 25.  THE FIRST TWO DAYS traditionally require abstaining from work.

SHMINI ATZERET (Eighth Day Assembly, ending Sukkot) begins at sunset on Wednesday, September 25, and lasts through Thursday, September 26.

SIMCHAT TORAH (Rejoicing with the Torah) begins at sunset on Thursday, September 26, and lasts through Friday, September 27.

The LAST TWO DAYS of PASSOVER begin at sunset Sunday, April 20, 2014 and last through Tuesday, April 22.

SHAVUOT (Festival of Weeks, or Pentecost) begins at sunset on Tuesday, June 3, 2014; continues through Thursday, June 5.

Category III. Observance doesn't require refraining from work.

(Festival of Lights) begins at sunset on Wednesday, November 27 and continues through nightfall Thursday, December 5.  Every night, candles on the Hanukkiah (eight-armed candelabra, sometimes called "menorah") are lit.

PURIM - Begins at sunset on Saturday, March 15, 2014; continues through Sunday, March 16.

And a few other seasonal and historical holy days that I won't mention, because enough already!  If you want to know more about the meaning of these holidays, you might consult or the book Seasons of Our Joy, by Arthur Waskow.

Typically, if you ask a Jewish man if the afternoon preceding a holy day is an acceptable time to have a meeting, he will say yes, because what most Jewish men do is show up at the dining table, fork in hand.  For women, the two days preceding each holiday are incredibly intense because of the cleaning, preparation and food preparation that takes place.  We look forward to the day when these tasks will be more equitably distributed.

A final note which I thought worth adding from my own experience: Even if someone (who might even be Jewish) tells you "It's no big deal" to schedule meetings and conferences on these days, doesn't mean that that's true for all Jews.   People maintain different levels of observance, and a more secular Jew may work on a day when I would not.   When in doubt, please ask!   I can't speak for other Jewish consultants, staff, board members, and interns, but I know I always prefer to be asked.

Thank you!

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