Machar


Holidays

Shabbat and Havdala
Shabbat and Havdala
Our Humanistic Shabbat and Havdala celebrations have increasingly become home-based celebrations where a small number of families gather together to celebrate.
Ceremonies may include: readings, responsive readings, candle lighting, commentary or discussion of secular humanistic issues, drama or performance of some sort, and songs. We may sing in English, Hebrew, Yiddish, or even Ladino. Wine (or grape juice) and challah are key elements in Shabbat ceremonies.

Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah
Traditionally, Rosh Hashanah marked the anniversary of creation and the establishment of order. It has always been a time for renewal, reflection, and new beginnings. For Humanistic Jews, it is a time for self-judgment.
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Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur
With the Yom Kippur evening and morning ceremonies, Humanistic Jews culminate their self-examination begun on Rosh Hashanah. We make Yom Kippur a time of self-forgiveness and forgiveness of others.

Sukkot
Sukkot
The custom of dwelling in booths at Sukkot carries a reminder of the time of wandering in the desert after the exodus, when only temporary shelter was available. For us, the symbolism of the booth, or the sukkah, is the wish to spread a canopy of peace over the world and enfold us as a warm, caring community. We typically observe this holiday on the Community Sunday closest to the holiday.

Simhat Torah
Simhat Torah
A few years ago, Machar received the generous gift of a Torah. Simhat Torah is an opportunity to bring it to our Jewish Cultural School to teach our children about this important element of Jewish literature and heritage. Teaching our children about all Jewish literature, including that written during and since the Enlightenment, is of great importance to us as humanists.
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Hanukkah
Hanukkah
As Hanukkah is a winter holiday, at our all-community party, typically held on a Sunday morning at Schweinhaut Senior Center in Silver Spring, we create an atmosphere of warmth through our Humanistic candle blessings, dreidel games, and other fun activities. We celebrate the oil miracle with our annual potato latkes competition.

Tu B'Shevat
Tu B’Shevat
This is a late winter holiday, occurring on the 15th of Shevat — so it’s a full moon holiday. Its origin lies in stories of Asherah (Astarte), wife of the god Elohim. She rules over the sea and is also goddess of fertility. Her symbol is the tree, so this is often called the New Year for Trees. It comes at the time of year when the sap begins to rise in the fruit trees to make them fertile. We typically celebrate on the Community Sunday closest to the holiday.
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Purim
Purim
Purim is a time to make fun of government and powerful rulers, to laugh at or rail against oppressors. Coming as it does before spring really opens up to us, Purim is a time to party and frolic. We typically have our annual Purim Carnival on the Sunday morning closest to the holiday at Schweinhaut Senior Center in Silver Spring. Adults and children dress in costumes, and the children act out the story. Satire and ridicule take over for the day. No celebration would be complete without feasting on hamantaschen, sometimes with unexpected fillings.

Passover/Pesakh
Passover / Pesakh
Passover is the great spring festival of the Jewish people. For Humanistic Jews, the biblical exodus story, although powerful, is historically dubious as well as theologically unacceptable. Instead, we see Passover as a celebration of freedom and national unity. It is a holiday of deep humanistic significance. This forms the core of the story we tell at our annual community Seder, typically held at Cedar Lane UU Church.

Yom Hashoah
Yom HaShoah
No study of Jewish life can escape the Holocaust. Nothing in Jewish history exceeds its horror. No other event surpasses its significance. Yom HaShoah commemorates the systematic murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany during World War II and the destruction of their culture. (photo credit: US Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Darwin Day
Darwin Day
Humanistic Jews celebrate our humanist philosophy as well as our connection to Jewish heritage and the Jewish people. Darwin Day, celebrated in February around Charles Darwin’s birthday, is one of several modern holidays that reflect our connection to the wider secular humanistic world. Our celebration of Darwin is generally held as a Community Sunday event.
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