As Reform Jews, we are blessed to have a calendar filled with holiday celebrations that bring together family and friends for reflection, joy, and of course, delicious food. From Passover to Shavuot, and all the minor and more recent holidays that fill this period, Temple Judea celebrates our Jewish journey as a community while making lifelong connections.  

One of the most significant holidays in Judaism, Passover is typically celebrated at home with a seder and a reading of the Haggadah. While some traditions may vary from family to family, especially what you may find on the dining table, it’s time to gather with family and friends as we retell the thrilling story of how our people escaped bondage over 3,000 years ago. At our seder tables here in the San Fernando Valley and around the world we can expect there to be wine and Haggadahs, four questions and songs, and dishes that represent parts of the story of the Exodus. While there may be charoset at every table, your recipe may differ from your neighbor’s, depending on your family’s roots. Yet no matter your family’s origins, the celebration of Passover is central to our culture. However you celebrate, Temple Judea wishes you and your loved ones a Chag Pesach Sameach, a very happy Passover! Upcoming Passover dates include: Apr 22 - Apr 29, 2024 and Apr 12 - Apr 19, 2025.
Yom HaShoah
Yom HaShoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, occurs on the 27th of the Hebrew month of Nisan. It is a day of solemn mourning for those who died in the holocaust and also a time to keep the memory of the victims alive in our hearts.
Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzamut
There are two more recent holidays we celebrate during this season: Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut. These holidays commemorate both heartbreaking and spirit-lifting ideas: we remember those who have died for Israel and we celebrate Israel's Independence. Yom HaZikaron represents Israel's Memorial Day, and it begins in Israel at sundown (the day before, of course) with a siren at 8:00 in the evening. When the siren sounds, Israeli citizens stop whatever they're doing, wherever they are, and stand firm to honor the faller soldiers of Israel and the victims of terrorism. But in this moment of darkness, we also celebrate how the joy of a Jewish homeland by celebrating Jewish Independence Day. We look forward to your company as we demonstrate our deep connection to Israel by honoring and participating in these holidays and events.
The Omer & Lag BaOmer
You’ve probably heard of Lag Ba’Omer - but do you know what this holiday commemorates? The “Omer” refers to the 49-day period between the second night of Passover and Shavuot, and it symbolizes the spiritual link between these two holidays: while Passover celebrates our freedom from slavery in Egypt, Shavuot marks the culmination of that liberation, when we received the Torah at Mount Sinai. Lag Ba’Omer literally translates to 'the 33rd day of the Omer.' So what's so special about the 33rd day? Interestingly, Lag Ba’Omer is not mentioned in the Torah or the Talmud, so there's no clear cut explanation as to why. But in true Jewish fashion, over the centuries, we’ve come up with a few good reasons to celebrate. One explanation relates to a plague that killed thousands of students of Rabbi Akiva, a Talmudic scholar (c. 50-135 C.E.). According to tradition, Lag Ba'Omer was the day on which the plague ended: thus, a reason to celebrate. Another explanation is attributed to the Jewish historian Josephus, who recorded Lag Ba'Omer as the date in 66 C.E. when the revolt against Rome began with a great victory. A third explanation traces back to a Jewish legend which states that Shimon bar Yochai, a second-century sage purported to be the author of the Zohar, died on Lag Ba’Omer, making this day - his yahrzeit - a “Yom Hilula” (a day of festivity to commemorate the death of a righteous mystical leader). Whatever the reason - whether it's because a plague ended, a victory against Rome was secured, or we're honoring a Yom Hilula - on the 33rd day, Jews around the world take a break from the mourning practices and spiritual reflection that define the Omer to party it up with feasts, bonfires, picnics, general mayem and carousing - marking a time when the heavy work of the Omer is replaced for one day with great joy and celebration.
Shavuot is one of the three major Jewish pilgrimage festivals (along with Passover and Sukkot). Falling exactly 7 weeks from the first day of Passover, Shavuot marks the end of the Omer. While Shavuot does align with Israel’s barley harvest, it’s also the time when we celebrate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. So, if you're not planning on harvesting any barley on Thursday, how can you celebrate? By studying Torah, reading the Book of Ruth, and feasting on delicious treats made with dairy. Why dairy? According to one beautiful Rabbinic explanation, it may come from the Song of Songs, which suggests that the Torah is as nourishing as milk and as sweet as honey. Upcoming Shavuot dates include: Jun 11 - Jun 12, 2024 and Jun 01 - Jun 02, 2025.
Mother & Fathers Days
One of the most sacred commandments in Judaism is to honor our parents. And while this duty extends far beyond just one day a year, Mother's Day and Father's Day are an ideal time to give this commandment the consideration it deserves. At Temple Judea, we see these secular holidays as an opportunity to celebrate and appreciate all the different forms of parenthood that exist within our community. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, step-parent, or role model your love and dedication deserve recognition and applause. It doesn't matter if you were born Jewish, non-Jewish, converted, or if you've got a kaleidoscope of traditions going on in your household. What matters is the love and laughs you bring to the table and the Jewish values with which you're raising those awesome kids.
Memorial Day
While a secular holiday, the value of remembering and honoring those who have passed is certainly a Jewish value. As thousands of Jewish men and women have served in our nation's military, and many have lost their lives in defense of our citizens, Memorial Day is an opportunity to thank them for their service and recognize their sacrifice.
Independence Day
This July 4, American Jews, like so many Americans around the country, are preparing a feast at the grill, excited to celebrate our shared nation while adding our own cultural flavor to the mix. But Independence Day isn’t just about fireworks and barbecues; it’s a time for American Jews to reflect on our own remarkable journey in the United States. As Jews, we hold tight to the values of free will, independence, and self-reliance: it’s no wonder that since the beginning of this nation, our people have embraced America’s quest for self-determination and promise of religious freedom. We remember Polish-born Haym Solomon, who fueled the flames of revolution by supporting the cause and ensuring Washington’s army could march on. And Francis Salvador, breaking barriers as the first Jew to hold public office in colonial America. So, as we gather around the grill to celebrate this uniquely American holiday, remember that Independence Day is also a celebration of the melting pot of cultures that make America great. Let’s honor our Jewish forebearers, as well as the many other immigrants who have stirred the pot of democracy and spiced it up with their unwavering courage. What’s more Jewish - or more American - than that? ​​​​​​​Happy 4th of July!
Tisha B'Av
Thursday marks Tisha B’Av, literally translated to the "ninth of Av" on the Hebrew calendar. For centuries, on this day Jews mourned, fasted, and read the Book of Lamentations to honor the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Judaism understands the Temples' destruction as a pivotal turning point. Before Tisha B’Av, Jewish ritual practices revolved around the Temple in Jerusalem. When it was destroyed, Jews were forced to seek new ways to pray and connect with God, which opened the door for the creation of local synagogues such as our beloved Temple Judea – a beit k'nesset, house of gathering, where we are able to pray, connect, celebrate, and learn together as a community. Tisha B’Av also reminds us of our collective strength and resilience. Amidst hatred and division, we unite as a Jewish community, embracing compassionate justice, connection, and love. Let us turn our beloved Temple into a sacred space, empowering us to face challenges united! Upcoming Tishah B'Av dates include: Aug 12 - Aug 13, 2024 and Aug 02 - Aug 03, 2025.