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Why Do Jewish Holidays Begin at Nightfall?

Renee Eder on Tuesday, August 21, 2018

My family is looking forward to Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) this year, for the apples and honey, celebrating with friends and family, and delicious brisket dinner. The holiday starts this year on Sunday evening, September 9, and goes until Tuesday, September 11. Ever wonder why they begin the holiday at night, rather than on the next morning?  

According to the Jewish calendar, not only do Jewish holidays begin at nightfall, but every day does. This is based on the story of creation in Genesis, where at the end of each day it says, "And it was evening, and it was morning; day one", "And it was evening, and it was morning; the second day" etc. By mentioning evening before morning, the Torah defines a day as beginning with the evening, followed by the morning. 

According to Jewish theologians, the passage of time is not only relevant to how we set up the calendar. It has profound implications as to our attitude to life itself. Everyone agrees that life is full of ups and downs. We go through periods where the sun is shining upon us and we feel on top of the world, only to turn a corner and be faced with difficulties and obstacles that drag us down. But it isn't long before something pleasant comes our way to pick us up again. 

As an optimist, I really appreciate this view: First the night, then the day. Darkness is a pathway to the sunrise hiding behind it. A challenge comes our way only to help us tap in to and reveal our inner powers that have until now remained unfathomed. I enjoy the comfort in knowing that no matter how dark it may seem, it is light that will have the last word. 

Speaking of the night sky, this year, why not come join us for A Cosmic Journey Through the Fall Holidays? On Sunday, September 16, from 10am-noon at the J, discover how to spot the first stars in the evening sky. From Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to Sukkot and Simchat Torah — we’ll explore them all. We provide exciting hands-on experiences — you provide the wonder! Join us as we embark on a cosmic musical journey through the Jewish holidays and learn about the night sky with Cosmic Adventure's mobile planetarium. Hope to see you here. Learn more at https://bit.ly/2MOPrNu. 

 

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