Temple Beth Jacob observes the Jewish holidays and festivals throughout the year, according to the Reform Jewish calendar. Beginning with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the fall and going through Shavuot in the late spring/early summer, here’s what you can expect:
• Rosh Hashanah – We observe both days of the Jewish New Year. We begin with an erev (evening) service the first night, beginning at 7:30 pm. On the first day, our morning service begins at 9:30 am. At its conclusion, we join together for a kiddush hosted by the TBJ Sisterhood. We then observe Tashlich at the nearby Merrimack River, and finally return to the Temple for a family service. Our second day service begins at 9:30 am and features a lay member of the congregation offering the d’var torah (sermon). During the morning service on the first day, members of the Temple Youth group, CONTY, lead services for religious school aged children.
• Yom Kippur – Kol Nidrei, our evening service, begins at 7:30 pm. Yom Kippur morning service is at 9:30 am. We follow with a family service, text study/discussion or meditative music, an afternoon service, Yizkor, N’ilah, and a potluck break fast hosted by the TBJ Sisterhood. During the morning service, members of the Temple Youth group, CONTY, lead services for religious school aged children.
• Sukkot – Sukkot, the festival of booths, is a joyous celebration at TBJ. We build three sukkot in our yard and connect them to create one large sukkah. We hold services on the eve of the holiday and a Yizkor (memorial) service during the festival at a morning service. Our religious school students decorate our sukkah, and throughout the week, different Temple groups hold dinners, classes, or meetings in the sukkah.
• Simchat Torah – SImchat Torah celebrates the conclusion and resumption of the annual reading of the Torah. Our service, with our T’filah Band Jammers, includes consecration of our new religious school students, seven hakafot (circles of carrying the Torah scrolls around the sanctuary), unrolling the entire scroll, and chanting, in one breath, the end of Deuteronomy and the beginning of Genesis.
• Chanukah – During the week of Chanukah, we add special prayers and songs for Chanuakh to our Friday night service. We also invite all congregants to bring the chanukiyot (Chanukah menorah) for a community-wide lighting.
• Tu B’shevat – We observe Tu B’Shevat in our religious school, with a special seder that celebrates the fruits and nuts that come from the trees.
• Purim – Purim is an institution at TBJ! Both adults and kids celebrate with joy and hilarity. Our Purimshpiel is well-known, and has been performed for decades. With a cast and band of close to 40 and two sell out perfromances (meaning 400 tickets), TBJ elevates Purim to something rarely seen in any other community. We also hold a Purim service on the eve of the holiday, for both adults and kids. Our kids celebrate on their own as well, with a Sunday morning at religious school devoted to Purim. We always hold a Purim carnival, and sometimes have a Junior Shpiel.
• Pesach – Pesach is observed with a second night community seder led by our rabbi and cantor. Children chant the four questions and look for the afikomen. Readings are shared by all who attend. While TBJ officially observes seven days of Pesach, we recognize that many in our community observe eight and are sensitive to their traditions when the eighth day falls on Shabbat. We hold a Yizkor morning service during the festival as well.
• Shavuot – Shavuot, the festival of weeks, is observed with an evening service in which high school students who have achieved a level of involvement are confirmed. The service includes the traditional reading of the Ten Commandments and is led by the students being confirmed. When Shavuot begins on a Saturday night, our rabbi leads a Tikkun leyl Shavuot, an all-night study session. The morning service includes Yizkor.