There are three cycles to the Jewish Year:
— The Fall Cycle, which has to do with Creation and Judgment, with cosmic questions like “Where are we going?” and “Is that where we want to go?” (High Holy Days, Sukkot)
— The Spring Cycle, which asks the question, “Who are We?” — I think of that as the Mythic Question, because it goes to identity. (Passover, Shavuot)
and finally —
— The National Cycle, which has to do with events in historical time, things that happened on dates we can point to.
Chanukah – the holiday when we remember how our ancestors struggled with questions of assimilation, and ultimately chose to rededicate themselves to Judaism, just as they rededicated the Temple after it had been used for Greek sacrifices.
Tu B’Shevat – the “New Year of the Trees” which began as an accounting device for counting the tithe for the Temple, but which became a festival of our relationship with the Land of Israel and with the Earth itself.
Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day – which comes right after Passover and the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, to help us remember that Jews DID fight back against the Nazis.
Yom HaAtzmaut – Israeli Independence Day – Almost two millenia after the fall of Jerusalem and the end of Jewish self-rule in the Land of Israel, a new Jewish State declared its independence.
Tisha B’Av – 9th of Av – the summertime remembrance of the destruction of the 1st temple in 586 BCE, the 2nd Temple in 70 CE, and the terrible Expulsion of the Jews from Spain.
I promised to upload the class handouts. Here they are: HowToNC <– How To Light Chanukah Candles
and The National Cycle <– summary of things to know about these holidays
Next week we are going to talk about Purim – a very interesting holiday that fits into no category, but that also links all three cycles. Then for the rest of the time, we’re going to have questions and discussion, so BRING YOUR QUESTIONS!
— Rabbi Adar