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 Hanukkah celebration will be held this year on Friday, December 27. Bring your own menorah and candles and join us to celebrate the miracle of God’s light. “Light Up the Night” also features potato latkes–of course!

We also have a holiday sale in our gift shop. This year, it is Sunday, December 8, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. We will have holiday supplies, sale items, candles of all kinds, jewelry, decorations.

Did you know that you’re only supposed to bow at the beginning and end of the Avot v’Imahot, the first blessing of the Amidah, and not at the end of each of the blessings? 
Were you aware that the closing words of V’Shamru are shavat vayinafash, not Shabbat vayinafash, and that a change in these words changes the meaning?
Have you ever noticed that the Bar’chu is a call and response, where the service leader invites the congregation into prayer and the congregation responds? Why is it important to listen to the first line without joining in?
Once each year, we give our congregants and friends a chance to learn more about the nuances of Jewish worship, how we move, and why we say what we say, in our Learners’ Shabbat. Rabbi Saks provides instruction and background to make your worship more meaningful.
Sparkle Havdalah: A Drag Queen Story Hour, will be held this year on Saturday, January 11, 5:30-7:00 PM at the Jewish Community Alliance. 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. We will enjoy a potluck dinner (dairy/vegetarian; no meat please), a story, crafts, music, a costume parade, and we will celebrate havdalah (the service that marks the end of Shabbat). This event is free and family-friendly; all are welcome. Let your light shine at this wonderful event, which we are sponsoring along 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 Sunday, February 9. Set up begins at 5:00 PM; seder begins at 6:00 PM.
The seder will be co-hosted by Rabbi Saks, the religious school, and the garden committee. Enjoy poetry, music, and delicious food; we will also plant seeds, of course! Bring a nut-free, plated vegetarian potluck dish to share. 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. March 8, 2020, 10:00 a.m. This year, our Aladdin-influenced shpiel is “The Magic Lamp…that didn’t contain oil that lasted for eight days…”

We are also proud of our fun Purim for Grown-ups party. We decorate the sanctuary, enjoy festive cocktails and mocktails, read the Megillah, and have a dessert contest. Bring your best Hamentashen for the win. March 9, 2020, at 7:30 p.m.

Decorative image of various Passover itemsOur Second Night Passover Seder is one of the biggest events of the year. 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!

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.

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