A Guide to Common Jewish Celebrations

Not sure how to tell a Bar Mitzvah from a Bat Mitzvah? The Jewish community in the United States is estimated at 7.5 million people of all ages. The chances of being invited to a Jewish event are high!

So how do you honor the people who have invited you into their community?

Whether you are visiting family or have made new Jewish friends, learning about Jewish celebrations is a good idea. By showing your knowledge of Jewish customs and practices, you can commemorate important Jewish events with respect and appreciation.

Do you want to learn more about Jewish celebrations? Here’s what you need to know about common Jewish traditions.


Passover occurs in the Springtime and commemorates the story of Exodus, which tells the story of the liberation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. Each family has its own Passover rituals, including storytelling, food, and songs.

During Passover, the main event is the seder (a festive meal), where the Haggadah is recited.

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the Jewish New Year. During the celebrations for Rosh Hashanah, Jewish people will ask for forgiveness for mistakes they have made in the past year.

Jewish observances and rituals include candle lighting, prayer services, and eating special foods.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is known as the day of atonement. It is considered the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Jewish people are encouraged to make amends and ask for forgiveness along with a 25-hour fast.

Additional restrictions include abstaining from using cosmetics, bathing, wearing leather shoes, and engaging in sexual relations.


Hannukah is a Jewish holiday (also known as the Festival of Lights) that celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian-Greek army. It is celebrated over eight days to commemorate how long the holy light burned. The menorah (a candelabra with nine candles) is lit each day of Hannukah.

Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah

On their 13th birthday, a Jewish child will celebrate their coming of age with a Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration. The boy (or girl) will read from the Torah and receive gifts before enjoying a special celebratory meal. Learn more about Bar Mitzvah traditions and Jewish practices before attending any Jewish events.

The Bat Chayil is a similar ceremony where a girl will speak about a Jewish topic but not read prayers from the Torah. This ceremony marks a girl’s right of passage into adulthood within her community.

Learn More About Jewish Celebrations

The best way to learn about Jewish celebrations is to speak to the people who observe them. These important holidays are celebrated throughout the year following the Jewish calendar.

Learning about Jewish practices is a great way to connect with family and friends during a sacred and special time. Learning about Jewish practices is a great way to connect with family and friends during a sacred and special time.Learning about Jewish practices is a great way to connect with family and friends during a sacred and special time.

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