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Festival Celebrations at Temple Emanuel

At Temple Emanuel, we begin our observance of the High Holy Day season with a meaningful joint Selichot service with Beth Israel Synagogue, and continue with Temple services on Erev Rosh Hashanah and Rosh Hashanah morning. We gather for a moving Kol Nidre service on Erev Yom Kippur, followed with day-long worship, including morning, children's, afternoon, Yizkor, and concluding services. In addition, there is a study session on a spiritual topic between services on Yom Kippur afternoon. On this day of fasting, each congregant is requested to make a charitable donation of 10 pounds of food per person; the donated food is collected and weighed by SCOTTY, our Temple youth group, and then delivered to RAM (Roanoke Area Ministries) to provide lunches for homeless people in our area. Our Sisterhood provides our Break-the-Fast after the concluding service.

Five days after celebrating Yom Kippur, we begin to celebrate the festival of Sukkot. Lasting seven days, Sukkot is one of the more joyous holidays. It has a dual significance, being both historical and agricultural, commemorating the forty-year period during which the children of Israel wandered the desert while living in temporary shelters, and celebrating the harvest. We observe Sukkot in the Temple Sukkah, which is built by members of our Brotherhood.

Simchat Torah
Simchat Torah is a celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle. It is an especially moving time that combines Consecration with the renewed cycle of Torah parashot. In both a symbolic and very real ceremony, Congregants stand along the walls of the Sanctuary and hold up the Torah as it is unrolled and re-rolled. This is followed by a festive oneg celebration led by Temple Emanuel's own Klezmer band. Thanksgiving is commemorated during an interfaith service held jointly with other houses of worship in the Roanoke area.

Hannukah is the Jewish festival of re-dedication of the Temple after the Greeks defiled it, and it is also known as the festival of lights. It is an eight-day festival beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, which celebrates two miracles -- a great Jewish military victory and a miraculous supply of oil for the Temple. A congregational family dinner, during which each family brings its own menorah, and for which our Brotherhood prepares the meal including latkes, highlights our Hanukkah celebration.

Purim commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination, and it is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar. On this day, we are commanded to eat, drink and be merry, to send out gifts of food or drink, and to make gifts to charity. In keeping with the custom of holding carnival-like celebrations and performing plays and parodies, for Temple Emanuel, Purim always draws many congregants to the Temple to attend the annual Purim spiel, such as recent musical productions of "Esther and the Beast," "My Fair Esther," and "Les Miz: Les Megillah." The spiel is usually preceded by a congregational spaghetti or lasagna dinner cooked by our Brotherhood while our Sisterhood bakes hamantaschen and other Purim treats.


We celebrate Passover as a commemoration of our liberaration over 3,300 years ago by God from slavery in an ancient Egypt that was ruled by the Pharoahs, and our freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses. It commemorates the story of the Exodus as described in the Hebrew Bible especially in the Book of Exodus, in which the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. When the Pharoah freed the Israelites, they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread dough to rise (leaven). In commemoration, no leavened bread is eaten during Passover, and it is a tradition of the holiday. Our first night Congregational Seder is typically a well attended event. Rabbi Cohen leads the Congregational Seder with many attendees participating. It precedes an always-wonderful Seder meal prepared by our Brotherhood.

Yom HaShoah
a somber time for remembering the Holocaust, is followed closely by Yom HaAtzmaut – Israel Independence Day.

Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, as well as when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple. Shavuot redeemed us spiritually from our bondage to idolatry and immorality. Is is customary to eat a dairy meal at least once during Shavuot. Shavuot offers an opportunity to study and discuss aspects of the Torah.







A stellar cast, catchy music, and a witty script make Temple Emanuel's "Purim Shpiel" an annual holiday highlight                             Holiday Calendar graphic courtesy of the URJ


Learn More About Our Holidays

When does Simchat Torah occur? View the Calendar of Jewish Holidays.

Simchat Torah, Hebrew for "rejoicing in the Law", celebrates the completion of the annual reading of the Torah.

Simchat Torah is a joyous festival, in which we affirm our view of the Torah as a tree of life and demonstrate a living example of never-ending, lifelong study. Torah scrolls are taken from the ark and carried or danced around the synagogue seven times. During the Torah service, the concluding section of Deuteronomy is read, and immediately following, the opening section of Genesis, or B'reishit as it is called in Hebrew, is read.

Current Holiday Information

Calendar of Jewish Holidays

We often think of Purim with its costumes and noisemakers as a children's holiday. But its themes and ideas are of great importance to Jewish Life. In fact, our tradition tells us that we are to drop whatever we are doing, no matter its importance, to go and listen to the story of Purim.


Mon, June 24 2024 18 Sivan 5784