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Holidays and Festivals

Celebrations Through the Year

The Jewish calendar has a festival or holiday for every season. Please join us as we celebrate with prayer, song, dancing, and food–and whatever else is called for by a particular day.

We rely on volunteer and financial support from all to ensure the strength of our synagogue community. We hope that even as you join us, you will support us either financially or by volunteering (or both!) so that we can continue to celebrate Judaism in Southern Maine.

Drawing of a menorahOur family-friendly Chanukah celebration was held this year on Zoom. As is our tradition, people brought their own menorahs and candles and joined together to celebrate the miracle of God’s light. When we are in person, we include potato latkes in our "Light Up the Night" celebration, and have music to dance to, songs to sing, a family-friendly story, and lots of crafts.

We also traditionally have a holiday sale in our gift shop: candles of all kinds, jewelry, decorations, and chanukah menorahs.

Perhaps you are new to Jewish worship. Perhaps you’ve been coming to Shabbat services for years. Either way, Rabbi Saks hopes that you’ll join us each year for our Learners’ Shabbat. Don’t be fooled by the name: everyone is welcome.
We will cover the structure of the service, the meanings of the prayers, and the choreography of worship. But we will also explore deeper questions. What does it mean to pray? What is the purpose of prayer? How can prayer draw us closer to each other and to God? When is prayer challenging? Is it okay if we don’t believe in God?
Prayer and Shabbat services can serve many purposes. Come explore what being together in worship might mean for you.
Sparkle Havdalah: A Drag Queen Story Hour, has traditionally been held in January at the Jewish Community Alliance. We invite you to wear your sparkly best, or just come as you are, and join us as we say goodbye to Shabbat and celebrate what makes us each unique and special. In the past, we have enjoyed a potluck dinner, a story, crafts, music, a costume parade, and a celebration of havdalah (the service that marks the end of Shabbat). This event is free and family-friendly; all are welcome. Let your light shine! Co-sponsored with the JCA, PJ Library, and Temple Beth El.
A Message from Rabbi Saks about Sparkle Havdalah:

What is a drag queen story hour, you might be asking, and what's Jewish about it? 

Drag Queen Story Hour was created by Michelle Tea and RADAR Productions in San Francisco; it teaches children to celebrate the message of inclusion and self-acceptance. Being proud of who you are isn't just relegated to the summer days of Pride in June, but should be a part of every day of the year. (Not to mention that the sun sets much earlier in January, allowing this event to be more accessible for more families!)

Havdalah means "separation," but it also means "distinction." It is a traditional way to distinguish between Shabbat and the rest of the week, and our Sparkle Havdalah and Drag Queen Story Hour will also celebrate what is unique or distinct about each of us. We begin Shabbat with two candles, two separate wicks. We end Shabbat, at Havdalah, with a braided candle, all of the wicks, and all of our different lights, intertwined.

The first Sparkle Havdalah and Drag Queen Story Hour was created by the Lander-Grinspoon Academy in Northampton, Massachusetts. Sure, there are big LGBTQIA communities in larger metropolitan areas, but kids everywhere need to know that there's something unique about each of us that makes us a valuable part of the world not just one day, not just one week, but every single day all year long. 

Martin Buber teaches, as it appears in the Reform prayer book, Mishkan T'filah, "My God, I thank You for my life, body, and soul; for my name, my gender, my way of thinking and speaking. Help me realize that I am something new, someone who never existed before, someone original and unique in the world. For if there had ever been someone like me, there would have been no need for me to exist."

Image of tree with many bright fruits on itWe celebrate Tu BiSh’vat, literally “the New Year of the Trees,” with a family seder, potluck dinner, and service. It is still winter in Maine, but all the more reason to anticipate the fruits from our friends the trees.

This year, our seder will be held on Zoom on Wednesday, January 27. Read more about it here.
The seder will be co-hosted by Rabbi Saks, the religious school, and the garden committee. Enjoy poetry, music, crafts, and delicious food (from your own kitchen)! Locally grown foods and foods you might have stored from your own garden are especially welcome.

Our lively and exciting Purim spiel, carnival, and Megillah reading is fun for all ages. Get dressed up in costume, say “booooo!” to Haman, and enjoy fun games. Details about the 2021 celebration are coming soon, but save the date: February 28.

Decorative image of various Passover itemsOur Second Night Passover Seder is one of the biggest events of the year. When we can be together, we load tables up with games and Haggadot, and Rabbi Saks leads a service rich with familiar traditions, new ideas, and song. We provide a simple catered dinner and make the event affordable for everyone.

Our Second Night Passover Seder was a virtual event in 2020; we received over 475 views on Facebook Live. We are grateful for everyone's support! We hope you will join us again online in 2021.

Drawing of wheatShavuot carries a double meaning: it marks the all-important wheat harvest in Israel and it commemorates the day we received Torah from God at Mt. Sinai.

We also celebrate Confirmation, our 10th graders' opportunity to affirm their commitment to Judaism and the Jewish community.