Learn More about the Jewish Holidays
The Jewish New Year begins this year on the evening of September 15. To learn more online, start by visiting our Jews for Jesus website.
Our site includes sections for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). You’ll find links to articles, recipes, and fun stuff, and you’ll also be able to view the speaking schedule of our staff. Who knows, you might find a “Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles” presentation at a nearby church. And if you haven’t sent snail mail greeting cards, be sure to click on “greeting cards” at our site. We offer a nice selection of e-cards for free, suitable for sending to your Jewish friends.
For a basic introduction to Rosh Hashanah from a mainstream Jewish perspective, see Judaism 101’s web site.
Ten days after Rosh Hashanah comes Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Observant Jews spend the day in the synagogue fasting and praying for God to forgive their sins.
The period between and including both holidays is known as the “Days of Awe”
Some ask, do Jewish people still perform sacrifices for sin? The answer is no. Jewish people have not practiced animal sacrifice for nearly 2,000 years. God ordained the Temple as the place of sacrifice. So ever since the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D., Jews who do not believe in Jesus have attempted to find other ways of atonement, including prayer, deeds of charity and repentance without sacrifice. While prayer, good deeds, and repentance are each very important, by institutionalizing them as a means of forgiveness the rabbis superseded what the Scripture said. (Leviticus 17:11)
However there is a custom, astonishing even to most modern secular Jews, which shows that the need for substitutionary (via sacrifice) atonement is still on the minds of some Jewish people. The following is from the Judaism 101 web page for Yom Kippur:
“Another custom observed during this time is kapparot. This is rarely practiced today, and is observed in its true form only by Chasidic [ultra-Orthodox] and occasionally Orthodox Jews. Basically, you purchase a live fowl, and on the morning before Yom Kippur you wave it over your head reciting a prayer asking that the fowl be considered atonement for sins. The fowl is then slaughtered and given to the poor (or its value is given). Some Jews today simply use a bag of money instead of a fowl. Most Reform and Conservative Jews have never even heard of this practice.”
PLEASE NOTE: we do not necessarily endorse all the content you will see on all of these or previous sites we’ve mentioned, but if you read them judiciously, we hope you will find them both interesting and helpful for learning.