Holiday Gifts

Jewish Holidays 2023- What You Need to Know

While most of the world goes by the Gregorian calendar, Jewish holidays and time are measured in an entirely different way. The Hebrew calendar (also known as the Jewish calendar) is a lunar calendar that dates back thousands of years; many of the months and occasions that comprise the calendar can be found in the Torah. 

According to the Jewish calendar, each day starts at dusk and ends at the next sunset. With more than a dozen celebrations, observances, and commemorations throughout each Jewish year, it can be hard to keep track of every single one. We have compiled every upcoming Jewish observance and listed its Hebrew and Gregorian dates, as well as links to additional resources to help guide you through 5783-5784 so that you and your loved ones can have a meaningful year. 

 

Please note these dates are only for Jewish communities who live outside of the Land of Israel.

Shabbat
Jewish Holidays 2023- What You Need to Know

Day of Rest

Begins at dusk every Friday
Ends at sundown every Saturday

 

Did you know that Shabbat is considered a holiday? In fact, it's in some ways the most powerful holiday that can over-ride others so to speak, like pushing off a fast day (except Yom Kippur) to Sunday if it would naturally land on Shabbat. Many people have strong traditions on Shabbat, with special foods, synagogue services, games, Torah learning, singing, and of course rest.

It has the most prohibitions on work compared even to other biblical holidays, as in addition to rich spiritual depth, one of the stated reasons for it is to remember the forced work of Egyptian slavery. Shabbat is a day of liberation from foreign or external pressures.

Traditional Greeting: Shabbat Shalom – Peaceful Shabbat! Gut Shabbos – Good Shabbat! 

Tu BiShvat

The New Year of the Trees

Begins at sundown on Sunday, February 5
Ends at sundown on Monday, February 6, 2023
Hebrew Date: 15 Shevat 5783

 

Tu BiShvat originates in the Mishnah and was an agricultural holiday in the Land of Israel. Many communities celebrate by honoring the Earth, planting trees, and holding a special Seder to consume the Seven Species of Israel (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, dates), as well as other fruits and nuts. In Israel, Tu BiShvat is a day for planting trees and celebrating nature.

Purim

A Festival of Lots: Deliverance in Exile

Begins at sundown on Monday, March 6
Ends at sundown on Tuesday, March 7, 2023
Hebrew date: 14 Adar 5783

Purim celebrates the survival of the Jewish people, despite Haman, the advisor to the Persian king, trying to kill the Jews in his kingdom. His efforts were thwarted by Mordechai and Esther. Twice over Purim begins, the story is read aloud at synagogue, known as Megilat Esther, and people use noisemakers to blot out Haman's name. Many people (of all ages) will wear a costume to the service, which is followed by a festive party. Children often celebrate the next day with Purim carnivals. Hamantaschen is traditionally eaten. 

Traditional Greeting: Chag Purim sameach – Happy Purim! A freilichen Purim– Have a kosher Purim (Yiddish)

Passover
Jewish Holidays 2023- What You Need to Know

The Festival of Matzah and Freedom

Begins at sundown on Friday, April 6
Ends at sundown on Saturday, April 13, 2023
Hebrew Date: 15-22 Nisan 5783

Passover is an eight-day festival that commemorates the Israelites’ journey out of slavery in Egypt and into the Land of Israel. Throughout all eight days of Pesach, it is forbidden to eat wheat, barley, oats, rye, or spelt. On the first two nights, family and friends traditionally gather for the Seder in which the Exodus story is recounted following a haggadah and many symbolic foods, followed by an extravagant meal. It is a holiday to commemorate liberation and the reception of Torah. It also begins the Counting of the Omer from the 2nd day of Passover.

Traditional Greetings: Chag Pesach sameach – Happy Passover; Chag kasher v’sameach – Have a kosher and happy holiday; A kosher'n Pesach – Have a kosher Passover (Yiddish)

Yom Hazikaron
Jewish Holidays 2023- What You Need to Know

Israel’s Remembrance Day

Begins at sundown on Monday, April 24
Ends at sundown on Tuesday, April 25, 2023 
Hebrew Date: 4 Iyar 5783

Yom Hazikaron is Israel’s Memorial Day for the fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. In Israel, there are dozens of ceremonies that honor the more than 23,000 people that lost their lives protecting and defending the State of Israel, as well as those who died in terror attacks. A siren is sounded across the entire country for one minute at 8 p.m. and 10 a.m., in which everyone stands still to honor and remember those lives. 

Yom Ha’atzmaut
Jewish Holidays 2023- What You Need to Know

Israel’s Independence Day

Begins at sundown on Tuesday, April 25
Ends at sundown on Friday, April 26, 2023
Hebrew date: 5 Iyar 5782

Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrates the day that David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence in 1948. Israelis celebrate at parties, ceremonies, barbecues, parades, and more. In cities all across Israel, there will be parades held and flags waving. 

Traditional Greeting: Yom Ha’atzmaut sameach – Happy Independence Day!

Lag B’Omer

33rd day of Counting the Omer

Begins at sundown on Monday, May 8
Ends at sundown on Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Hebrew date: 18 Iyar 5783

Lag B’Omer occurs on the 33rd day of the Omer. The holiday commemorates the end of a plague that killed 24,000 Torah scholars. With kabbalistic roots, it is believed by some to be the day that the Jewish people discovered the wisdom of the Zohar. Many communities celebrate by having a bonfire and singing, and it is perhaps the most popular day for weddings. Because it is an end of the mourning period for 24,000 students, people are finally allowed to listen to music and get haircuts and get married, prohibited during the Omer up to this point.

Traditional Greeting: Chag sameach – Happy holiday!  

Shavuot
Jewish Holidays 2023- What You Need to Know

The Day We Received the Torah

Begins at sundown on Thursday, May 25
Ends at sundown on Saturday, May 27, 2023
Hebrew date: 6-7 Sivan 5783

Shavuot is the day that the Jewish people received the Torah from G-d at Mount Sinai. Many communities celebrate by staying up all night and studying Jewish texts and subjects while eating dairy foods like cheesecake, blintzes, pizza, and more at a Tikkun Leil Shavuot. Special services are also held in synagogue on Shavuot. 

Traditional Greeting: Chag Shavuot sameach – Happy Shavuot!

Tisha B’Av
Jewish Holidays 2023- What You Need to Know

The saddest day of the Jewish calendar

Begins at sundown on Wednesday July 26
Ends at sundown on Thursday, July 27, 2023
Hebrew date: 9 Av 5782

Tisha B’Av is the day that the Jewish people commemorate the destruction of the Temples, as well as many other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout history including the Inquisition and events of the Holocaust. Unlike all other fasts besides Yom Kippur, it lasts the entire day on Tisha B’Av and pray to rebuild Jerusalem.

Many believe that Moshiach will be born on this day.

Tu B’Av
Jewish Holidays 2023- What You Need to Know

Jewish Valentine’s Day

Begins at sundown on Tuesday, August 1, 2022
Ends at sundown on Wednesday, August 2, 2022
Hebrew date: 15 Av 5782

Tu B’Av has been celebrated since the days of the Temple and marked the beginning of the grape harvest. Tu B’Av was also a day when single Jewish women would dress in white and dance in the vineyards, hoping to find a husband. In modern day Israel, Tu B’Av is a popular day for proposals, weddings, and dates. 

Rosh Hashanah
Jewish Holidays 2023- What You Need to Know

The Jewish New Year

Begins at sundown on Friday, September 15, 2023
Ends at sundown on Wednesday, September 17, 2023
Hebrew Date: 1-2 Tishrei 5784

 

Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of humanity. Special services are held at synagogues, and many gather with loved ones for festive dinners featuring traditional foods such as apples and honey, round challah, pomegranates, and fish. 

Traditional Greetings: Shana tova - Happy New Year; Shana tova um’tukah - Have a good and sweet New Year; shana tova tikateivu v’teichateimu - Happy New Year! May you be inscribed and sealed [in the Book of Life]; Tizku l'shanim rabot - May you merit many years.

Yom Kippur

The Day of Atonement

Begins at sundown on Sunday, September 24
Ends at sundown on Monday, September 25, 2023
Hebrew Date: 10 Tishrei 5784

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur is also one of the two times per year that the Jewish people fast for an entire day. There are evening services (Kol Nidrei) followed by services the next day that last for hours, where special prayers about atonement, repentance, and forgiveness are said. One's judgement for economic success, marriages, children, and death etc. are decided this day. Despite the fasting and atoning, it is the happiest day of the year because it is the chance for a clean slate.

Once Yom Kippur ends, many families and communities host festive meals to break the 25-hour fast. 

Traditional Greetings: G’mar chatima tova - [Have a] good final sealing [in the Book of Life]; Tzom kal - Have an easy fast. In English, it is also common to say, "Have a meaningful fast."

Sukkot
Jewish Holidays 2023- What You Need to Know

The Feast of the Tabernacles

Begins at sundown on Monday, September 20, 2021
Ends at sundown on Monday, September 27, 2021
Hebrew Date: 15-21 Tishrei 5784

 

Sukkot is an eight-day festival that historically marked the end of the harvest in Israel that commemorates G-d's protection of the Jewish people in the 4 decades in the desert. The sukkah, the temporary structure that Jewish people build to eat, sleep, and lounge in throughout the festival, is meant to symbolize the huts that the Israelites dwelled in during their journey to Eretz Yisrael. During Sukkot, it is also traditional to shake the lulav and etrog. 

Traditional Greetings: Chag sameach!- Happy holiday! or Chag Sukkot Sameach - Happy Sukkot!

Shemini Atzeret & Simchat Torah
Jewish Holidays 2023- What You Need to Know

Beginning of the Torah Reading Cycle

Begins at sundown on Friday, October 6
Ends at sundown on Sunday, October 8 2023
Hebrew Date: 22-23 Tishrei 5784

Shemini Atzeret directly follows the end of Sukkot. After weeks and weeks of celebrations, atonement, reflection, and observance, Shemini Atzeret was instituted by the rabbis as an extra day of holiness and kavanah (intention). It is also the first day that the Jewish people begin praying for rain.

The following day, Simchat Torah, is when the cycle of reading the Torah begins back at Bereshit. This is one of the happiest days of the Jewish year and is often marked with celebrations at synagogues where congregants dance, sing, and rejoice in the gift that is the Torah. 

Traditional Greeting: Chag sameach! – Happy holiday! 

Hanukkah
Jewish Holidays 2023- What You Need to Know

Festival of Lights

Begins at sundown on Thursday, December 7
Ends at sundown on Friday, December 15, 2023 
Hebrew Date: 25 Kislev – 2 Tevet 5784

 

Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah) is an eight-day festival that commemorates the Maccabean revolt and the rededication of the Second Temple. It is the only religious Jewish holiday that does not appear in the Torah. Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting one candle for each night of the holiday. Fried foods, such as jelly donuts and latkes, are also enjoyed throughout the festival. 

Traditional Greetings: Chag sameach! – Happy holiday!; Chag Chanuka sameach! – Happy Hanukkah! A freilichen Chanukah – Happy Hanukkah! (Yiddish)

Jewish Holidays 2023- What You Need to Know

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