Rethinking Jewish Faith: The Child of a Survivor Responds

By Steven L. Jacobs | Go to book overview

6
Rethinking the Jewish Festival Cycle: The Calendar in Question
Celebration and commemoration of the festival cycle, like the life cycle in the previous chapter, will also have to be rethought since the Shoah. No longer does it make sense to continue to celebrate or sanctify this or that festival for the historically traditional reasons previously given in Jewish or Christian religious traditions. Again, though the practices themselves may not vary in the slightest from the ways in which the Jewish people presently practice their celebration of these events, or have done so in the past, the rationale behind their celebration now demands new understandings of these events in the post-Shoah world. No more can Pesach (Passover), for example, be viewed as God's liberation of the Jewish people from slavery and bondage in Egypt when the slavery and bondage of Nazi Germany resulted in the deaths and degradations of so many. "Why one and not the other?" continues to be the question. The central core issue remains not one of practice and commitment, but the "whys" of those practices and the "wherefores" of those commitments since the Shoah.For the purpose of this chapter, we may group our Jewish holidays, holy days, festivals, and fast days in the following four categories:
1. Biblical -- Major (that is, those days that derive their origins from the first Five Books of Moses): Shabbat (Sabbath), Pesach (Passover), Sefirat ha-Omer (Counting of the Omer), Shavuot (Weeks), Rosh ha-Shanah (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Sukkot (Feast of Booths), Shemini Atzeret (Eighth Day of Solemn Assembly), and Rosh Hodesh (New Moon).
2. Biblical -- Minor (that is, those days that derive their origins from the Torah outside of the first Five Books of Moses): Hanukkah (Festival of Dedication) and Purim (Festival of Esther).

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