Holidays

scottThe Sholem Community’s holiday observances draw from Jewish history, folk traditions, contemporary readings, and social justice themes. Our secular humanistic adaptations of Jewish holidays are creative and imbued with a sense of relevance to the concerns of our modern times.

Understanding Jewish Holidays

Origins: Most Jewish holidays pre-date religious observances. They are based on ancient customs, and are often tied to seasons or to agricultural practices. They are often rooted in early pantheistic human belief and practices – shared with many other cultures – related to seasonal changes and/or lunar phases. They sometimes involved magical rites aimed at human control of supernatural forces, such as pouring water to encourage rain or lighting fires to invigorate the sun. Early beliefs arose in the pre-agricultural period. Understanding these roots enhances an intercultural approach to holidays based on facts. It also places Jewish cultural development within an overall human context.

Ancient Historical Connections: The development of Judaism and rabbinic authority either through the Torah, the Talmud, or folklore, served to anchor primitive events and observances to the national consciousnesses of the Jewish people. Ancient holidays were adapted and molded to religious frameworks. Adopting ancient customs provided legitimacy. Co-opting them and imbuing them with religious meaning helped perpetuate them, while, at the same time, obscured their origins.

Folk Traditions: Over time, customs of observing or celebrating Jewish holidays, particularly including foods associated with the festivals, grew up independently and removed from the rites prescribed by Talmudic rabbis. They often reflected the customs of the surrounding majority peoples among whom Jews lived.

Our Secular Approach

Three holidays provide good examples of Sholem’s secular approach to Jewish holidays:

  • The New Year Festivals (Rosh Hashana, Kol Nidre, YonKiper/Yom Kippur, Sukis/Sukkot) are based on ancient beliefs about the need for self-reflection and communal re-assessment. Sholem’s observances use music, readings, and discussion relevant to our daily lives and challenges.
  • Hanuka. This festival of lights is based on prehistoric winter rituals common to most cultures. As daylight subsides and the days grow colder, heat and light are obvious antidotes. Combined with the victory of the Maccabees—a freedom struggle of an oppressed people—Hanuka becomes much more than the legend of a magic oil lamp: It’s a powerful holiday that celebrates freedom and reminds us of the need for light (metaphorically and literally), as well as the common themes shared by other cultures.
  • Peysakh (Passover). This originated as a springtime festival, celebrated by nomadic and later agricultural Israelites. The powerful Exodus legend imbues it with stirring reminders about liberation and freedom.

Secular Humanistic Observances of Jewish Holidays 2016-2017

The Sholem Community’s holiday observances draw from Jewish history, folk traditions, contemporary readings, and social justice themes. Our secular humanistic adaptations of Jewish holidays are creative and imbued with a sense of relevance to the concerns of our modern times.

Rosh Hashana (rosheshone)

11:00 am – 1 pm, Monday, October 3, 2016.
Rancho Park-Cheviot Hills. Picnic Area #1 (behind the swimming pool)
2551 Motor Avenue, Los Angeles (One block south of Pico)
A family celebration with readings and songs. Bring a picnic for your family and dessert to share. We will provide the apples and honey. Free admikol2ssion.

Kol Nidre

7:00 pm, Tuesday, October 11, 2016.
Professional Musicians’ Union auditorium
817 North Vine Street, Hollywood. (Half a block north of Melrose).
Kol Nidre, the evening before Yom Kippur, is a highlight of the Sholem calendar. Informed by Jewish traditions, in music and in spoken word, we reflect on our lives and the state of the world through a humanistic and progressive prism.

Yom Kippur (yonkiper)

2:30-4:30pm, Wednesday, October 12, 2016.

Workmen’s Circle Cultural Center, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd. (a few blocks south of Pico). Free to all.

band2Sukkot/sukes

12:00 pm, Sunday, October 16, 2016
Westside Neighborhood School
5401 Beethoven Street, Los Angeles, CA 90066
A family friendly-program that celebrates food justice and sustainability at this fall harvest holiday.

Hanuka

11:30 am, Sunday, December 11, 2016
Westside Neighborhood School
5401 Beethoven Street, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Our celebration recognizes the roots of Hanuka as a winter solstice festival. We celebrate Hanuka in honor of the Maccabees and a freedom struggle for an oppressed people.

Tu B’Shvatrosh5-2014

12:00 pm, Sunday, February 12, 2017
Westside Neighborhood School
5401 Beethoven Street, Los Angeles, CA 90066
We highlight environmental awareness and celebrate the “new year for trees.”

Purim

11:00 am, Sunday, March 12, 2017
Westside Neighborhood School
5401 Beethoven Street, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Join Sholem families and friends for a reading of the megilla and a carnival with games, costumes, and hamantashen.

Passover/pesach/peysakh

10:15 am – 1:30 pm, Sunday, April 2, 2017

Westside Neighborhood School
5401 Beethoven Street, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Our model secular seder, held the week before Passover, is a celebration of spring and liberation. Free admission. Please click here to reserve your seat(s) and sign up for the potluck meal.