As the High Holy Day season approaches, Jewish Alamedans are preparing to engage an understanding of time that differs significantly from the Gregorian calendar. The Hebrew calendar has unique names for each month. A month begins at the sighting of the new moon. A day begins and ends at sunset. This calendar is intricately tied to the agricultural cycle in Israel, and an extra month is occasionally added to ensure alignment with the solar seasons.
The High Holy Day season encompasses several significant Jewish holidays. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, marks the start of this season on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. It is followed by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which falls on the 10th day of Tishrei. Subsequently, Sukkot, a week-long celebration known as the Feast of Booths, begins five days later, followed by Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. While not all Jews observe all of these holidays, they all form part of the High Holy Day season.
Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset on Friday, September 15, and is observed for one or two days. This holiday is a time of both joy and deep introspection. The period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is dedicated to making specific apologies to other people. After reconciling interpersonal relationships, Jews gather for Yom Kippur, a solemn day of repentance, which starts on Sunday, September 24, and concludes at sundown on Monday, September 25. It's worth noting that some students, faculty, and staff may be absent on September 25th in observance of Yom Kippur.
This season of reflection and connection is extended through Sukkot, during which Jews construct temporary booths to remain connected to this liminal period. Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah begin at sunset on Friday, September 29, and continue through Sunday, October 8.
To accommodate the significance of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it is advisable to avoid scheduling tests or communal events on these days, as they are the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar. For precise dates of Jewish holidays on the Gregorian calendar, Hebcal.com is a valuable resource.