Holiday and Festivals
A celebration of Jewish heritage
Temple Har Zion’s holiday and festival observances offer a window into the richness and diversity of our religious heritage.
Through festive rituals and celebrations, we connect with our past and chart our future course. These observances also provide us with an opportunity to strengthen our bonds with one another and support our community.
By observing these holidays together, we foster a spirit of inclusion and respect that will help us carry these values forward into the new year and beyond.
The High Holidays are the spiritual highlight of the year. Hundreds of participants gather in the synagogue’s Goldstine sanctuary as we push our movable bima back to accommodate all our participants. The holidays provide an opportunity to learn more about the Jewish tradition and to share our heritage with newcomers.
Rosh HaShanah is the Jewish New Year — a time of prayer, self-reflection and t’shuvah. We review our actions during the past year, and we look for ways to improve ourselves, our communities, and our world in the year to come.
Our Kol Nidre services are solemn, majestic, and beautiful, creating the perfect and profound beginning to the holiest day of the Jewish year. We ask God to forgive us for promises we make in the coming year that we may not be able to keep.
The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. It marks the end of the 10 days of repentance and is spent in fasting and prayer. Sounding the shofar signals the holiday’s end. Observant Jews do not eat, drink (including water), bathe or wear anything made of leather.
The week-long harvest festival of Sukkot commemorates the dwelling of the Israelites in temporary booths during their 40-year journey in the Sinai desert. Many families build their own sukkah, in which it is customary to eat meals, sleep and shake the lulav, a palm frond bound together with myrtle and willow branches, and the etrog, a kind of citrus.
Simchat Torah marks the end of the annual Torah reading and the beginning of the cycle for the coming year. It is celebrated with singing, dancing, and merry processions of people carrying Torahs and children waving flags.
Other Holidays and Festivals
Our holidays and busy Jewish calendar mark the rhythm of our year at Temple Har Zion. The community is invited to share congregation wide celebrations of every holiday while enriching their home and family experiences with new traditions.
We enjoy concerts, communal meals with our families as we sing Hanukkah songs and light candles together. We often schedule congregation wide events, such as fundraisers and galas during the holiday.
On Purim, we decorate our Gottlieb social hall as ancient Persia! Young and old wear costumes and sound groggers to drown out Haman’s name as we listen to the full Megillah reading. We share jokes and have presentations by our members that enhance the celebrations. We eat hamantaschen and exchange bags of Mishloach Manot (holiday gifts). Every year, many young visitors and their families from across the Western suburbs join our Purim carnival with games, prizes, and the Shushan Café.
To enjoy a recording of our 2022 megillah reading, click here.
The Exodus of the Jews from Egypt is celebrated with the eight-day festival of Passover. Ridding the home of chametz (leavened food) and eating only unleavened items commemorates the haste in which the former slaves fled Egypt, leaving them too little time for their bread to rise. Jews retell the story of Exodus during a Passover seder.
On Israeli Independence Day, we celebrate our connection to Israel with a service, an Israeli dinner, singing and speakers to remind us of the miracle of Israel’s independence.
On Shavuot night, we gather with our friends from Oak Park Temple for an evening of study, prayer and receiving the Torah anew. We serve ice cream, cheesecake and meet old and new friends.
Our Selichot service ushers in the beginning of the High Holy Days with an evening musical service. We combine the traditional soulful liturgy with accompaniment from classical musicians to open the themes of the holiday. We share dessert on the patio before or after.