Jewish Festivals and Celebrations

Tu B’Shavat

In Israel, in the month of Shevat, the winter rains end and the first signs of spring and new life begin to appear. In Jewish tradition the primary symbol of new life and ecology is the tree. The Torah itself is called “A Tree of Life.” Historically, Tu B’Shavat has been a Jewish festival that maintains a connection to the land of Israel – a hot, arid place where trees mean food, shelter, and water. The modern focus for Tu B’Shavat has expanded to include the ecology of the planet.

At the Levin JCC, we celebrate Tu B’Shavat each year by planting a tree. Our tree planting service is led by the local Rabbis and includes activities for children. All are welcome to attend.

Purim

The story of Purim, of Queen Esther, her cousin Mordecai and the villain Haman is documented on a Megilla (scroll) which is read each year in Synagogues at Purim. With much drama and audience participation, it tells the story of the miracle of the Persian Jews being saved by Queen Esther.

The Purim Party at the Levin JCC includes crafts and activities for children. Of course we also bake and eat Hamentashen at the Purim Party. Hamentashen is a fruit or sweet filled cookie shaped like Haman’s three pointed hat.

Yom Hazikaron

Yom Hazikaron is Israel’s official Memorial Day enacted into law in 1963. The full name for this day is the Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism.

At the Levin JCC, the communities of the Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill and the Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary join commemorate this day together.

The community Yom HaZikaron event will be April 30, 2017. For more information, click here.

Yom HaAtzmaut – Israel Festival

Yom HaAtzmaut commemorates the declaration of independence of Israel in 1948. We celebrate this day each year with food, dancing and song. This holiday celebration at the Levin JCC is arranged by the Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill and the Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary.

In 2017 the Triangle community Israel Festival will be celebrated on May 7, 2017. For more information about this event, click here.

Jewish Food Festival

The Jewish Food Festival at the Levin JCC started in 2012 and is an annual spring/summer event celebrating traditional Jewish foods. Ashkenazi (Eastern European), Sephardic (Mediterranean) and New York Deli specialties are all represented. Community volunteers participate in preparing and serving family favorites. Event entry is free with a free parking shuttle. Everyone is invited.

The Jewish Food Festival was April 23, 2017. Stay tuned for 2018!

Selichot

Selichot is a service of repentance in preparation for the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). The Levin JCC hosts this service which is conducted by the local Rabbis each year.

Apples and Honey

On the day before Rosh Hashanah, the Levin JCC bakes traditional holiday foods for the community. Round challah filled with raisins, honey cake and apple cakes are available for purchase. North Carolina grown apples and locally produced honey are also available for sale to facilitate the traditional eating of apples and honey to ensure a “sweet New Year”.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

The JCC is closed for two days at Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and one day for Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Services for these holidays are held at local synagogues.

Sukkot Celebration

Sukkot is an eight day festival celebrating the harvest. The primary symbol of Sukkot is a sukkah, a temporary structure. Families eat in their sukkah during Sukkot and fulfill the tradition of inviting others to join them for a meal in the sukkah.

During the Sukkot Festival at the JCC we make decorations, decorate the sukkah in the courtyard, and learn special Sukkot prayers and traditions. JCC members are welcome to use the sukkah for dining during Sukkot.

Great Challah Bake/Shabbos Project

The JCC participates in the worldwide Shabbos Project each fall. This is a tradition which started in South Africa in 2013 and spread worldwide in 2014. Communities around the world commit to celebrating Shabbat in unity during a designated weekend. The JCC participates in the Great Challah Bake the Thursday before Shabbat weekend by inviting everyone to come to the JCC and make challah together. Together we mix, kneed and shape the challah and then take it home to bake.

Hanukkah Festival

Hanukkah is the celebration of two stories. One story is of a military victory. The other story is of a miracle. The Hanukkah miracle is the one small jar of oil that should only have burned for one day but burned for 8 days until more oil arrived to keep the Eternal Light burning in the Temple. Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 days and one candle is lit for each night.

The JCC Hanukkah Festival is a great event for everyone full of singing, storytelling, crafts, a small marketplace for gift purchasing and eating the traditional foods cooked in oil – potato pancakes and donuts.

Mitzvah Day

The Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill has been celebrating Mitzvah Day (December 25) for over 10 years. It is a day of service for community members of all ages. Hundreds of people participate in projects to feed and assist those in need and those who serve the community. It is a service day open to all.

For more information about Mitzvah Day or our Mitzvah Corps projects, go here.