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Festivals - Congregation Sherith Israel

Festivals enable us to celebrate while we express our gratitude

Following Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we mark festivals and holidays with special services and celebrations. We incorporate some into Friday evening and Shabbat morning services.

High Holidays bring us together for thanks and repentance

The High Holidays fill Sherith Israel’s sanctuary with a special energy and sense of meaning as the community comes together in prayer and song.

We offer evening and daytime Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services for adults, plus engaging morning Youth Services for children six to nine and lively Tot Yontif for little ones up to five and their families.


It‘s harvest time! Discover this ancient harvest holiday of the land of Israel. A sukkah appears on our bimah, another in our outside play area. Decorations may include fruits and vegetables, canned foods for the hungry or student art. Our morning Yizkor (memorial) service remembers those who have departed. Congregants get to wave the lulav (palm, myrtle and willow branches) and etrog (a lemon-like citrus fruit) as part of the ritual for this festival. 

Simchat Torah

We celebrate the joy of Torah and completing a year’s reading cycle. To give everyone the big picture, we take one of our hand-lettered scrolls from the ark and unroll it completely so everyone can see. Then the final verses of Deuteronomy (D’varim) and the first verses of Genesis (B’reishit) are chanted to keep the cycle unbroken. 


A great miracle happened there when the Hasmoneans (Maccabees) defeated the Seleucid empire in 164 BCE. Tradition says that the lamp of the menorah burned in the Temple for eight days with only one day’s supply of oil. A great celebration happens here. On Friday-night Shabbat during Chanukah, we focus on our story of freedom and the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days. Congregants bring their chanukiot to light and enjoy a latke dinner. 

Tu B’Shvat

The birthday of the trees reminds us of the bounty of nature that God has provided.


The Jewish Carnival. Purim is a time of unfettered celebration—the one day of the year during which the Rabbis command us to drink until we can’t distinguish between Haman (boo!) and Mordecai (yay!). We encourage revelry, including costumes. Our celebration includes comedy, music, dancing and, of course, hamentaschen. 


On the second night, following first-night Seders at home, we hold our congregational Seder in Newman Hall. Adults and children gather to read the haggadah, retelling the Passover story, and enjoy a wonderful dinner. We also hold a traditional Yizkor (memorial) service on the seventh day. 


We celebrate both the first fruits of spring and the giving of the Torah on Sinai. On Erev Shavuot, we participate in Tikun Leil Shavuot along the California Street corridor with the Jewish Community Center San Francisco, Congregation Emanu-El and Congregation Beth Sholom.

Mon, December 6 2021 2 Tevet 5782