Notes for Religious Studies 369:

Introduction to Judaism

Pilgrimage Festivals


Main Symbols and Observances

Historical Significance

Natural or Social Significance

  • Passover (Pesah)
    • Ancient painting of a Passover mealRefraining from leavened bread
    • Seder (symbolic ceremonial meal), Telling and reliving the story of the Exodus from Egypt
    • eating unleavened bread (matzah)
    Commemorates the Exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt Spring

  • Feast of Weeks (Shavu'ot):
  • Preceded by counting of the fifty days of the "'Omer"

      Commemoration of receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai First fruits

    Grain harvest

  • Tabernacles (Sukkot):
    • Living in temporary booth
    • Procession with "four species": palm frond, myrtle and willow branches, citron
    Wanderings of Israelites' in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land
    • Ingathering of the crops
    • In the Oral tradition:The beginning of the rainy season

  • Sh'mini Atzeret (Eighth Day of Assembly), Rejoicing of the Law (Simhat Torah)

  • 8th-9th days of Tabernacles
    Simhat Torah is celebrated by singing and dancing with Torah scrolls
    Simhat Torah marks the conclusion and beginning of the annual cycle of reading the entire Torah

    Pesah (Passover)

    The Omer Weeks

    Shavuot, The Feast of Weeks

    Sukkah (booth)Sukkot, the Feast of Booths: