Biblical Studies Jewish Festivals
by
Alan Avery-Peck
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 January 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0214

Introduction

The topic of Jewish holidays covers diverse historical periods, from biblical times until the present, and also diverse methodological and topical interests. At the same time, these materials are largely united by a shared focus. Of concern throughout is the theological and social meanings that holiday observances have had within the evolving life of the Jewish people, as that life has been manifested in different historical and cultural circumstances. This focus on the holidays’ evolving theological and social meaning is represented in scholars’ concern for the holidays’ origins in pre-Israelite settings and for the ways in which originally pagan and agrarian celebrations were subsumed into Israel’s system of Yahweh-worship, including their integration within the historical matrix of the Exodus that became so central to Israelite self-understanding. This historical interest appears as well as scholars study the reframing of Scripture’s holiday system in Rabbinic and medieval Judaism and especially in modern times, when assimilation, on the one hand, and the search for modes of personal spirituality, on the other, have challenged and stretched inherited theologies and modes of holiday observance. Viewed collectively, these studies highlight that the holidays have never been static. They are instead products of the intertwining of tradition with ideologies and perspectives that in each age give the inherited practices contemporary meaning. The literature reviewed here further reveals that, for all of their evolutionary development, the holidays remain for Jews in modernity, as in antiquity, foundational statements of what Judaism teaches and of what it means to be a Jew. The works before us thus strive both to delineate the holidays’ historical meanings and to articulate the changes in thinking about and observing the holidays that allow even contemporary Jews to identify with and gain value from their reflections on Judaism’s meaning and purpose.

General Introductions

Beginning with Gaster 1968, the focus in general introductions to the annual holiday cycle has been twofold. An overall goal of setting out the holidays’ contemporary ideology and practices stands next to a presentation of each holiday’s historical evolution, from its original biblical formulation to the meanings the holiday has today, including discussion of the specific rituals that now support those meanings. The implication of these studies is that Judaism today—in both Orthodox and nontraditional formulations—is a product of evolutionary developments that, in each generation, have allowed Judaism and its observances to remain meaningful and fresh. Bloch 1978 and Harris 1992 develop this approach with their concern for the evolution of holiday practices. Raphael 1990 is important in adding to the picture contemporary celebrations, such as Israel Independence Day, even as Sperber 1999 analyzes arcane, regional practices not treated by the other authors. Greenberg 1993, probably the best introduction available today, sets out the holidays’ contemporary meanings and implications as well as the historical developments that brought them to this point.

  • Bloch, Abraham P. The Biblical and Historical Background of the Jewish Holy Days. New York: Ktav, 1978.

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    The book traces the origins and historical development of the holidays and their associated practices, understanding that “the perspective of time is frequently invaluable in the discovery of the rationales of various rituals. These inevitably reflect socio-religious conditions of the period when the customs came into existence” (p. ix). Along with the annual holiday cycle, Bloch treats the life-cycle rituals and daily practices.

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    • Gaster, Theodor H. Festivals of the Jewish Year: A Modern Interpretation and Guide. 4th ed. New York: William Sloane Associates, 1968.

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      The festivals manifest the process through which Jews in each age express broad universal truths in terms appropriate to their own day. The focus here is not so much on what is done but on the ideas the holidays express. While this book is today surpassed by other general introductions, especially Greenberg’s The Jewish Way (Greenberg 1993), it represents a first critical assessment of the holidays’ origins and meaning. First edition 1953.

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      • Greenberg, Irving. The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays. New York: Touchstone, 1993.

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        Presents the details of holiday observance within the context of the holidays’ significance in setting out how we are meant to live, to relate to others, and to understand our place and obligations in the world. Greenberg presents the holidays as “orienting events.” He establishes the role of ritual within individual and communal life and shows how the festival calendar has evolved to express the meaning and values of Judaism.

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        • Harris, Monford. Exodus and Exile: The Structure of the Jewish Holidays. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992.

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          Interprets the ways in which the holidays shape Jewish existence, inculcating in Jews a unique sense of time and history and pushing them to reflect meaningfully on the issues people face in life. Rather than focusing on individual holiday practices, Harris interprets the overall philosophical and psychological impact of holiday observance.

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          • Raphael, Chaim. The Festivals: A History of Jewish Celebration. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1990.

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            The annual cycle of holidays, including contemporary ones such as Israel Independence Day. Raphael explains the holidays’ origins, biblical roots, and later ritual and interpretative developments. While aimed at general readers, the study is important for its careful delineation of the evolutionary development of the festivals’ meanings and practices.

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            • Sperber, Daniel. Why Jews Do What They Do: The History of Jewish Customs throughout the Cycle of the Jewish Year. Translated by Yaakov Elman. Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1999.

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              Sperber considers holiday customs connected to the Pilgrimage Festivals, High Holidays, the Counting of the Omer, the Three Weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av, Hanukkah, and special Sabbaths. The topics are arcane (the custom of reciting Psalm 92 twice during Kabbalat Shabbat; not eating nuts on Rosh Hashanah). But these essays insightfully reflect the real-world circumstances in which textual tradition and contemporary interpretation produce an evolving system of practices.

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              • Steinberg, Paul. Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Fall Holidays; Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot. Edited by Janet Greenstein Potter. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2007.

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                This volume, Steinberg and Potter 2007, and Steinberg and Potter 2009 present the holidays as fundamental expressions of Jewish spirituality, invoking the intellectual, emotional, and physical. Holidays connect Jews to history, the earth, their people, and God. Steinberg covers each holiday’s origins, ideology, ritual practices, and interpretations. He then presents holiday texts, examined at literal, interpretive, and personal levels. Steinberg’s goal is to deepen appreciation for and practice of the holidays.

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                • Steinberg, Paul, and Janet Greenstein Potter. Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Winter Holidays; Hanukkah, Tu B’shevat, Purim. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2007.

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                  Steinberg evaluates the holidays of Hanukkah, Tu B’Shevat, and Purim, once minor festivals in the Jewish calendar but increasingly central in contemporary Jewish life. At stake is the historical significance of these days, as well as how modern Jews might deepen their observance and appreciation of them within their own lives. Thus the focus is on personal connections and home observance.

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                  • Steinberg, Paul, and Janet Greenstein Potter. Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Spring and Summer Holidays; Passover, Shavuot, The Omer, Tisha B’Av. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2009.

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                    Here Steinberg reflects specifically on the origins, ideology, and practices of Passover and Shavuot, including the forty-nine-day period of the Counting of the Omer. Tisha B’Av, the fast day that mourns the destructions of the First and Second Temple, is also examined.

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                    The Holidays in Interfaith Dialogue

                    The shared foundations of Judaism and Christianity in the Hebrew Bible, and of Christianity within Judaism itself, mean that study of the biblical holidays—Passover/Easter and the Sabbath in particular—provides a fructifying entry into how the two traditions interrelate. The issues are both historical—e.g., the relationship of Easter to Passover (on which, see Bradshaw and Hoffman 1999a and Bradshaw and Hoffman 1999b)—and contemporary, as reflected in the discussion in Eskenazi, et al. 1991 concerning how, in modern times, Jews and Christians alike have struggled to establish a meaningful and communally accepted place for the observance of ritual. Bradshaw and Hoffman 1999a and Bradshaw and Hoffman 1999b focus on the impact on Judaism and Christianity of the related holidays of Passover and Easter. They thus illustrate the value of comparative study of the holidays for interfaith dialogue.

                    • Bradshaw, Paul F., and Lawrence A. Hoffman. Passover and Easter: Origin and History to Modern Times. Two Liturgical Traditions 5. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1999a.

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                      The essays collected here focus on the connections and similarities as well as the differences between Passover and Easter, reflecting both the formative impact of these holidays on their respective religions and showing what is shared in contemporary practice and the search for meaning today. At stake is the way in which each faith’s mode of worship has influenced the other.

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                      • Bradshaw, Paul F., and Lawrence A. Hoffman, eds. Passover and Easter: The Symbolic Structuring of Sacred Seasons. Two Liturgical Traditions 6. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1999b.

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                        The essays collected here focus on Passover and Easter’s context within the festival calendar overall, especially Shavuot, for Jews, and Pentecost, for Christians. J. Tabory, author of “Towards a History of the Pashal Meal,” is one of the few scholars to hold that the Mishnah describes the Seder as it was observed toward the end of the Second Temple period, thereby validating the Gospels’ depiction of the Last Supper as a Seder.

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                        • Eskenazi, Tamara C., Daniel J. Harrington, and William H. Shea, eds. The Sabbath in Jewish and Christian Traditions. New York: Crossroad, 1991.

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                          Covers biblical perspectives, rabbinic and New Testament perspectives, historical perspectives (concerning the function of the Sabbath in later Jewish and Christian thinking), theological perspectives, liturgical perspectives, and legal and ecumenical perspectives. Taking seriously the history of the Sabbath in Judaism and Christianity, the volume offers much for those interested in either religion and, especially, for those who wish to understand what is shared or unique in Jewish and Christian theology and experience.

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                          Source Criticism and the Evolution of the Biblical Festivals

                          At the turn of the 20th century, Julius Wellhausen explained the emergence of the Israelite festival calendar as an ongoing process in which agricultural celebrations—with dates determined by the ripening of the crops in any given year—increasingly were separated from their associations with nature and were connected rather to historical events. Wellhausen ordered the biblical sources in chronological sequence as J/E, D, and P and argued that the festival calendar in the later sources is marked by historicization, fixed dating, and centralization of the cult. He pointed in particular to the priestly accounts, in which the holidays have fixed annual dates and historical connections, especially with the Exodus. Recent research, represented in the work of Goldstein and Cooper 1990, increasingly has challenged this paradigm, rethinking the literary process and chronological development of the text of the Bible and questioning the idea of a monolithic evolution of the festival calendar and of the festivals’ meaning in ancient Israel.

                          • Gane, Roy. Cult and Character: Purification Offerings, Day of Atonement, and Theodicy. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2005.

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                            Yom Kippur viewed within Leviticus’s system of purification portrays the Israelites’ conception of YHWH, balancing justice and kindness. Immorality is treated as a breach of legal obligations and as a kind of pollution. Yom Kippur addresses both issues, offering a path “not only to freedom from condemnation, but also to healing of character” (p. xix). Gane examines Leviticus’s system of purification before turning to the system’s application on Yom Kippur.

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                            • Goldstein, Bernard R., and Alan Cooper. “The Festivals of Israel and Judah and the Literary History of the Pentateuch.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.1 (1990): 19–31.

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                              Explains that Scripture intertwines distinct treatment of the festivals in Northern versus Judean traditions. Massot is the foundational Northern festival, marking God’s victory over death. The Southern calendar, by contrast, revolves around complementary festivals on the tenth days of months two and eight: Pesah and Kippurim, both featuring blood rites of a pastoral society. These holidays denote protection from death (Pesah) and purgation (Kippurim). These distinct holiday systems were consolidated in two stages.

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                              • Greer, Jonathan S. Dinner at Dan: Biblical and Archaeological Evidence for Sacred Feasts at Iron Age II Tel Dan and Their Significance. Culture and History of the Ancient Near East. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2013.

                                DOI: 10.1163/9789004260627Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                This study of the biblical and archaeological evidence for sacred feasting at the Northern cult site of Dan during the Divided Monarchy reveals the social, religious, and political impacts of sacred feasts in general. At Dan, feasts were used by the Northern kings to unify tribal factions and to integrate that factional past into a single social framework. This discovery has important implications for our understanding of Israelite festival observance overall.

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                                • Houston, Walter J. “Rejoicing before the Lord: The Function of the Festal Gathering in Deuteronomy.” In Feasts and Festivals. Edited by Christopher Tuckett, 1–13. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2009.

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                                  Explains that Deuteronomy’s festival calendar reveals much about food, drink, and feasting. The root smh means “celebrate” rather than “rejoice,” highlighting the required rituals. The order Passover, Pentecost, and then Sukkot reflects the agricultural year as much as movement from Egypt to Promised Land. The feasts encouraged a single cult, which indebted Israel to YHWH, provider of all bounty. Thus Deuteronomy supported political equality through its insistence that all Israelites partake in God’s blessings.

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                                  • Prosic, Tamara. “Passover in Biblical Narratives.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (1 March 1999): 45–55.

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                                    Even as holidays developed and were rethought, their essential symbolic meaning was retained and transmitted. All of the biblical accounts share that Passover is an intermediary between two stages of Israelite history: e.g., slavery/freedom; pre-law/establishment of law; temporary sanctuary/permanent sanctuary; exile/homeland. Author contends that Passover thus represents a prototypical rite of passage, mediating between opposed conditions, a particularly ripe context for taboo and ritual observance.

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                                    • Soggin, J. Alberto. Israel in the Biblical Period: Institutions, Festivals, Ceremonies, Rituals. Bloomsbury, UK: T & T Clark, 2002.

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                                      Chapters 10–16 are devoted to holidays. Alongside the pilgrimage festivals, Sabbath, Sabbatical, and New Moon and Jubilee (as well as Purim and Hanukkah), Soggin discusses the calendar, including the influence of Canaanite and Babylonian cultures. He shows that, whatever the prehistory of the festival celebrations, they have been revised and rethought in light of the later theological and historical forces that shaped the Hebrew Bible as a redacted whole.

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                                      • Wagenaar, Jan A. “Passover and the First Day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread in the Priestly Festival Calendar.” Vetus Testamentum 54.2 (2004): 250–268.

                                        DOI: 10.1163/156853304323018936Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Discusses how the priestly calendar in Leviticus firmly dates Passover to the fourteenth day of the first month and the feast of unleavened bread to the following day. But neither these dates nor the association between the two holidays is presupposed in pre-priestly calendars, in Deuteronomy and Exodus. These uncertainties and contradictions reflect the historical processes in which the two distinct celebrations were merged, distinguished, and later merged again.

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                                        • Wagenaar, Jan A. “The Priestly Festival Calendar and the Babylonian New Year Festivals: Origin and Transformation of the Ancient Israelite Festival Year.” The Old Testament in Its World. Edited by Robert P. Gordon and Johannes C. De Moor, 218–252. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2005.

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                                          The festival calendars in Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Ezekiel reflect diverse associations of the festivals with the harvest; in the J account, the festival’s agricultural roots are already largely obscured, while Deuteronomy evidences a rather modest degree of historicization. The author explains that the reason, rather than simply a shift to a historical matrix, is a complex development that brought to bear on the Israelite system ideas found in Babylonia’s biennial new year festivals.

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                                          The Festivals at Qumran

                                          Study of the holidays as represented in the Dead Sea literature is diverse, lacking a single focusing issue or concern. The earliest study questions the relationship of Qumran observances to Rabbinic practices (Schiffman 1975), positing a close connection between the two. Subsequent studies focus more on the practices represented in the Qumran texts in relationship to the earlier biblical ideologies. At stake in Sweeney 1983, Ulfgard 1989, and Volgger 2006 is how the Qumran community embodied its unique reading of the biblical commandments.

                                          • Schiffman, Lawrence H. The Halakhah at Qumran. Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity 16. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1975.

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                                            After introducing the Qumran literature, its sources and legal terminology, Schiffman turns to the Sabbath law presented in these texts, introducing, translating, and commenting on the specific practices depicted and reflecting on their relationship to Rabbinic law and observance.

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                                            • Sweeney, Marvin A. “Sefirah at Qumran: Aspects of the Counting Formulas for the First-Fruits Festivals in the Temple Scroll.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 251 (1983): 61–66.

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                                              The Temple Scroll knows of three first-fruits festivals: New Wheat, New Wine, and New Oil; they follow upon each other at fifty-day intervals. Sweeney reexamines the Scroll’s dating of these festivals, with attention to the author’s use of Scripture and the relationship of this festival calendar to that depicted in Jubilees.

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                                              • Ulfgard, Håkan. The Story of Sukkot: The Setting, Shaping, and Sequel of the Biblical Feast of Tabernacles. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1989.

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                                                While focusing primarily on the Hebrew Bible, Ulfgard outlines the evolution of Sukkot from 600 BCE to 500 CE. He includes the symbolism of Sukkot in Scripture and at Qumran and covers as well the development of the calendar and rituals of temple dedication.

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                                                • Volgger, David. “The Day of Atonement according to the Temple Scroll.” Biblica 87.2 (2006): 251–260.

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                                                  The Temple Scroll, columns 13–30, contains a sacrificial calendar; this article focuses on the Day of Atonement, including the requirement that Israel humble itself, refrain from work, and attend a solemn meeting. But the main focus of the text is the sacrificial requirements: burnt offerings and sin offerings, a different depiction from that of the biblical accounts.

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                                                  The Festivals in Second Temple and Early Rabbinic Judaism

                                                  The study of the festivals in the Second Temple period and in the texts of early Rabbinic Judaism focuses on two distinct areas of concern. The foundational work is historical and questions the origins and nature of specific festival practices (Kalimi 2011, Knowles 2007, McKay 1994, and Safrai 1989). But we find here as well significant works questioning the theological or communal meaning that specific festivals, or the system of holidays overall, had for those who observed them (Colautti 2002, Halpern-Amaru 2009, Hallo 1977, Prosic 2004, Rubenstein 1995, and Zuesse 2005). Colautti 2002 is a model for the insights that can be derived from a systematic assessment of the function of a holiday—Passover—in a single author, in this case, Josephus. Colautti shows how the diverse writings of Judaism used Passover to reflect their authorship’s distinctive view of God’s actions in history and as an indicator of God’s relationship with and demands of the chosen people.

                                                  • Colautti, Federico M. Passover in the Works of Josephus. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 75. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2002.

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                                                    Details Josephus’s vision of the Passover celebration, with particular attention to its role in the reconstruction of Judaism after the destruction of the Second Temple. Colautti rebuts the common use of Josephus simply as a source of discrete facts in the debate over the relationship of Passover to the Last Supper. Includes a survey of the treatment of Passover throughout late antique Jewish literature.

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                                                    • Hallo, William W. “New Moons and Sabbaths: A Case-Study in the Contrastive Approach.” Hebrew Union College Annual 48 (1977): 1–18.

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                                                      In ancient Mesopotamia, the cultic (and civil) calendar was determined by the phases of the moon. This practice contrasts with that of Israel, whose calendar was minimally connected to lunar phases, while the seven-day week and seven- year sabbatical cycle were all-important. Hallo sees in this calendar a unique expression of socioeconomic justice and equity. His point is that isolating differences, as much as similarities, is central to understanding ancient Israel.

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                                                      • Halpern-Amaru, B. “The Festivals of Pesaḥ and Massot in the Book of Jubilees.” In Enoch and the Mosaic Torah: The Evidence of Jubilees. Edited by Gabriele Boccaccini and Giovanni Ibba, 309–322. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009.

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                                                        Halpern-Amaru studies the relationship between the biblical Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread and Jubilees’ seven-day Feast of the Lord celebrated by Abraham. The point is to see Jubilees’ treatment of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread as an ingenious compositional structure that carefully interprets Exodus 12–13.

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                                                        • Kalimi, Isaac. “The Day of Atonement in the Late Second Temple Period: Sadducees’ High Priests, Pharisees’ Norms, and Qumranites’ Calendar(s).” Review of Rabbinic Judaism 14.1 (2011): 71–91.

                                                          DOI: 10.1163/157007011X564850Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          An evaluation of the differences between the Sadducees and Pharisees regarding the rite of Yom Kippur. Kalimi discusses the intellectual, spiritual, and moral character of the typical Sadducee high priest (as reflected in the Mishnah), and he analyzes the Dead Sea Scrolls’ depiction of one high priest’s attempt to impose his authority on the Qumran community concerning Yom Kippur and the calendar.

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                                                          • Knowles, Melody D. “Pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the Persian Period.” In Approaching Yehud. Edited by Jon L. Berquist, 7–24. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007.

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                                                            Pilgrimage to Jerusalem became widespread only in the Hasmonean period and later. Knowles argues, however, that substantial evidence points to the practice also in the Persian period. This argument includes special emphasis on the observance in Jerusalem of Sukkot and Passover. Recognizing these developments allows us better to comprehend both the construction of the religion by its elite and how that construction was reflected in the actual practices of the community.

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                                                            • McKay, Heather A. Sabbath and Synagogue: The Question of Sabbath Worship in Ancient Judaism. Leiden, The Netherlands, and New York: Brill, 1994.

                                                              DOI: 10.1163/9789004295834Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              In the 2nd century BCE through the 2nd century CE there is slim evidence for non-priestly, non-Temple, communal (versus private) prayer on the Sabbath. The Hebrew Bible and New Testament, Philo, Josephus, Mishnah, Christian writings, Dead Sea Scrolls, inscriptions, and archaeological data reflect clear concern for abstention from work and the holiness of the day but do not depict special prayers or rituals. The authors’ point is that we must be careful about anachronistically retrojecting later synagogue practices into this early period.

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                                                              • Prosic, Tamara. The Development and Symbolism of Passover until 70 CE. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament; Supplement Series 414. London and New York: T & T Clark, 2004.

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                                                                An evaluation of Passover’s development and meaning. If the Israelites in fact were not ethnic foreigners who settled in Canaan, then what were the true origins of the holiday that celebrates a divine miracles claimed to have allowed them to come to this land? Prosic rethinks the earliest meaning of Passover and the point at which it came to express a new idea about the origins and nature of Israelite existence.

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                                                                • Rubenstein, Jeffrey I. The History of Sukkot in the Second Temple and Rabbinic Periods. Brown Judaic Studies. Atlanta: Scholars, 1995.

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                                                                  As a Temple-based ritual, the presentation of fruits at Sukkot reflected the rebirth of nature. Rabbinic imagery developed the festival’s connection to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Now, in the face of the Temple’s destruction and in the apparent absence of God, the fall holiday season increasingly was reframed with eschatological implications. Rubenstein portrays what is abiding in the meaning of Sukkot and how the changing needs of generations of Jews promoted the emergence of new ideologies and ritual practices.

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                                                                  • Safrai, Shmuel. “Gathering in the Synagogues on Festivals, Sabbaths and Weekdays.” In Ancient Synagogues in Israel, Third-Seventh Century CE. Edited by Rachel Hachlili, 7–15. Oxford: BAR, 1989.

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                                                                    Describes how Second Temple Jews gathered in synagogues only on Sabbaths and festivals, praying the seven-benediction Amidah still recited today. On weekdays, individuals prayed alone, reciting the twelve intermediate benedictions of today’s daily Amidah. Daily prayer quorums emerged only after the Temple’s destruction. Then the first three and final three benedictions of the Sabbath/Festival Amidah were attached to the twelve benedictions already in use for daily worship, yielding the formulation of Eighteen Benedictions.

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                                                                    • Zuesse, Evan. “Calendar of Judaism.” In Vol. 1 of The Encyclopaedia of Judaism. 2d ed. Edited by Jacob Neusner, Alan J. Avery-Peck, and William S. Green, 317–335. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2005.

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                                                                      The Jewish year incorporates two beginnings, six months apart, marking a heavenly year and an earthly one. The former connotes the beginning of God’s cosmic rule (Rosh Hashanah); the other, humanity’s response (Passover). The author explains that the Jewish festival cycle, including the minor fast days—like calendars in most other religions—constitutes a “single patterned and logical whole” (p. 318).

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                                                                      Passover and the Last Supper

                                                                      A central question for scholars of early Judaism and Christianity concerns the history of the Passover Seder and its connection to Jesus’s Last Supper. Marcus 2013 takes a position represented largely in earlier New Testament scholarship and classical studies of the Rabbinic materials, holding that the Seder as we know it today predates 70 CE. The current consensus, found in Kulp 2005, is that the Seder familiar to us today—a leisurely meal in which the story of the Exodus is recounted and evaluated—was a product solely of Rabbinic Judaism and hence is anachronistic to the period of Jesus. The upshot is that most current researchers argue that the Last Supper—both because of the day it likely was held (the night before the first night of Passover) and in light of common Jewish practice of Jesus’s time—could not have been a Seder. Alongside his own important work on this topic, Kulp provides a complete bibliography of recent scholarship on this issue.

                                                                      • Kulp, Joshua. “The Origins of the Seder and Haggadah.” Currents in Biblical Research 4 (2005): 109–134.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/1476993X05055642Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Reviews scholarship on the Seder’s origins, finding a near consensus that the Seder described by the rabbis did not exist in Second Temple times. Thus it is perilous to seek parallels between the Last Supper and the Rabbinic Seder. The rabbis created the Seder in response to the Temple’s destruction and failed Bar Kokhba revolt, out of competition with emerging Christian groups, and through the assimilation of Greco-Roman customs.

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                                                                        • Marcus, Joel. “Passover and Last Supper Revisited.” New Testament Studies 59.3 (2013): 303–324.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/S0028688513000076Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          The author contends that the Last Supper probably took place the night before Passover eve and was not a Seder. Still, the Synoptics’ depiction reveals the state of Jewish practice in their day. This depiction means we must identify the Seder’s origins not with the rabbis but in pre–70 CE sources, which in fact imagine a leisurely Passover meal rather than the hasty repast described in Scripture and wrongly assumed by most scholars today to have remained standard until after the destruction of the Second Temple.

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                                                                          • Saulnier, Stéphane. Calendrical Variations in Second Temple Judaism: New Perspectives on the “Date of the Last Supper” Debate. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 159. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2012.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1163/9789004226326Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            The discrepancy between the Synoptics’ and John’s dating of the Last Supper results from Jesus’s having followed the Book of Jubilees’ calendar, in which the Seder always falls on Tuesday night. In Jewish authorities’ calendar, by contrast, the Seder that year fell on Friday night. John and the Synoptics therefore can both be correct. Saulnier’s contribution here is a detailed analysis of Second Temple–period calendars and seasonal celebrations.

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                                                                            The Festivals in Early Judaism and Christianity

                                                                            Beyond the issue of the relationship between Passover and the Last Supper, scholars recently have addressed what we can learn about the origins of Christianity and the character of late antique Judaism from each religion’s use of holiday themes. Diverse interpretations of the Sabbath and other festivals reveal the distinctive theologies of Second Temple authors, the Talmudic rabbis, and early Christian thinkers. Hieke and Nicklas 2012 and Stökl Ben Ezra 2003 treat Yom Kippur; Weiss 2003 and Sigal 2007 focus on the Sabbath. Sigal 2007 uses the Gospels’ presentation of Sabbath law as a key to Jesus’s attitude toward and relationship to the diverse groups in the Judaism of his day. Countering a number of presuppositions regarding Jesus and Judaism, Sigal’s work represents an important step in the emergence of a methodologically critical study of Jesus and early Christianity in their Jewish context.

                                                                            • Hieke, Thomas, and Tobias Nicklas. The Day of Atonement: Its Interpretations in Early Jewish and Christian Traditions. Themes in Biblical Narrative: Jewish and Christian Traditions 15. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2012.

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                                                                              Thirteen essays by top scholars cover biblical aspects of the Day of Atonement, the Day of Atonement in early Judaism (including Jubilees, Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, Calendrical issues, Mishnah Yoma, Samaritanism), the Day of Atonement in early Christianity, and the Day of Atonement in Jewish liturgy.

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                                                                              • Sigal, Phillip. The Halakah of Jesus of Nazareth according to the Gospel of Matthew. 2d ed., expanded. Studies in Biblical Literature 18. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007.

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                                                                                The New Testament Pharisaioi denote a complex group of pietists who rigidly observed Jewish law. This group—close to that represented at Qumran and in Jubilees—was largely distinct from the Rabbinic movement, which emerged only later. This idea is supported through examination of Jesus’s teachings on divorce and the Sabbath, meaning that, the author posits, Jesus’s argument with Pharisaic perspectives would not extend to the less strictly constructed Sabbath law of Rabbinic Judaism. Originally published in 1986 (Lanham, MD: University Press of America).

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                                                                                • Stökl Ben Ezra, Daniel. The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity: The Day of Atonement from Second Temple Judaism to the Fifth Century. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

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                                                                                  What was the meaning of Yom Kippur in early post-Temple Judaism and how were the holiday’s practice and ideology developed (or not) in early Christianity? Stökl Ben Ezra concludes that “Christian atonement theology and its festal calendar not only emerged under the influence of Yom Kippur but also continued to develop in light of the ongoing challenge that the contemporary Yom Kippur posed to Christians” (p. 2).

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                                                                                  • Weiss, Herold. A Day of Gladness: The Sabbath among Jews and Christians in Antiquity. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003.

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                                                                                    This collection of essays covers the Sabbath in Philo, among the Samaritans, in Josephus, in the synoptic Gospels, in Paul, and in other early Christian writings. The result is to see how diverse perceptions of the Sabbath developed so as to reflect specific historical and cultural settings. The Sabbath, as the concluding chapters set out, thus was subject to a range of understandings in early Judaism and Christianity.

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                                                                                    Holidays in Medieval and Modern Judaism

                                                                                    The issue in the modern period concerns how the holidays are to continue to express a distinctive Jewish message even as Jews strive fully to participate in the broader cultures around them (Ashton 2013 is an excellent study of this question through the example of Hanukkah). Similarly, what is to become of Jewish celebrations when non-Jews increasingly are participants, asking how Judaism and its practices might speak to them? Within this framework, it is perhaps not surprising that the validity of the familiar Christian critique of Judaism continues to be debated (Dundes 2002; see also Horowitz 2006). Was the true meaning of God’s message hopelessly buried by the rabbis under mounds of tortuous laws, to be salvaged only by the Christian retrieval of the Torah’s true spiritual meaning? Or, as studies such as Cox 2001 overwhelmingly suggest, is the Judaism still today practiced in Jewish homes and communities a model for religious meaning and personal and familial growth? Shavit and Sitton 2004 and Shoham 2014 are somewhat separate, sharing a focus on the contemporary use of Jewish holidays in the formation of a distinctive Jewish self-identity within the early Yishuv community in the land of Israel.

                                                                                    • Ashton, Dianne. Hanukkah in America: A History. Goldstein-Goren Series in American Jewish History. New York: New York University Press, 2013.

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                                                                                      In America, Hanukkah has evolved in tandem with the extravagance of Christmas. Ashton explains that there are other factors: Jews’ desire to see their history as consequential, to equate Jewish and Western values, and to keep Jewish children excited about Judaism are among a host of factors pertinent to the growth of Hanukkah. Hanukkah’s evolution reveals the values that emerged as Jews confronted the reality of living as a modern religious minority.

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                                                                                      • Cox, Harvey. Common Prayers: Faith, Family, and a Christian’s Journey through the Jewish Year. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.

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                                                                                        A committed Christian married to a committed Jew offers a guide to the Jewish holidays. How can Christians honor faiths other than their own and so enrich their own Christian life? The Jewish holidays underlie a conversation about what Jews and Christians can learn from their confrontations with each other’s faiths. Cox presents a spiritual reading of the positive impact of observance of Judaism within an extended family.

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                                                                                        • Dundes, Alan. The Shabbat Elevator and Other Sabbath Subterfuges: An Unorthodox Essay on Circumventing Custom and Jewish Character. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002.

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                                                                                          Like earlier authors who expressed the idea as a racial slur, Dundes posits the existence of a national Jewish “character,” which he says is “postnatally acquired through the mediation of culture” (p. 100). He investigates how that “character” is evidenced in the practice of circumventing through legal fictions foundational laws of the Sabbath. Dundes thus expresses a singularly negative attitude both toward Rabbinic Sabbath regulations and toward what he sees as the casuistry through which Jews, in his view, circumvent those laws.

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                                                                                          • Ginsburg, Elliot Kiba. The Sabbath in the Classical Kabbalah. 2d ed. Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2008.

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                                                                                            Ginsburg delineates the treatment of the Sabbath in Jewish mysticism: divine transformations, Sabbath and cosmic blessing, Sabbath as sacred center, and Sabbath as perfected time. This section is followed by the motifs of the transformation of the person. The final sections of the book detail Kabbalistic Sabbath ritual and its significance. Originally published in 1989 (Albany: State University of New York Press), this is a companion to Ginsburg’s translation of and commentary to R. Meir ibn Gabbai’s Sod Ha-Shabat (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006).

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                                                                                            • Horowitz, Elliott S. Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence. Jews, Christians, and Muslims from the Ancient to the Modern World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                              The biblical commandment to destroy Amalek (Deut. 25:17–19) in conjunction with the book of Esther—whose story is commemorated by the festival of Purim—nurtured a violent consciousness among Jews, emblematized in modern times by Baruch Goldstein’s murder of twenty-nine Muslims in Hebron on Purim in 1994. Depicting Jews as perpetrators as well as victims of interreligious violence, this controversial study is important in its focus on the real-world implications of the ideas modeled by holidays and ritual.

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                                                                                              • Katz, Jacob. The “Shabbes Goy”: A Study in Halakhic Flexibility. Translated by Yoel Lerner. 1st paper. ed. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989.

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                                                                                                The use of a non-Jew to perform tasks that Jews are prohibited from carrying out on the Sabbath has been commonplace from Talmudic times to this day. In this classic study, Katz traces the evolving role of the so-called shabbes goy as a paradigmatic example of the adaptability of Jewish law to the ever-changing cultural, social, and economic realities within which Jews have lived.

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                                                                                                • Shavit, Jacob, and Shoshana Sitton. Staging and Stagers in Modern Jewish Palestine: The Creation of Festive Lore in a New Culture, 1882–1948. Translated by Chaya Naor. Raphael Patai Series in Jewish Folklore and Anthropology. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                  Examines the festive calendar created in Eretz-Israeli culture from 1882 through 1948. Argues that the creators of this cultural ethos, conscious of the social needs they had to fulfill, thought seriously about content, symbols, and the concrete ways in which these festivals would be enacted. Their mode of reimagining the classical festivals (First Fruits, Tu Bishevat, Purim) contributes significantly to our understanding of the constantly evolving meaning of the festival calendar.

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                                                                                                  • Shoham, Hizky. Carnival in Tel Aviv: Purim and the Celebration of Urban Zionism. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2014.

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                                                                                                    Looking at the celebration of Purim in British Mandate–era Tel Aviv through balls and parades, Shoham overturns historians’ “traditional focus on Zionist elites . . . and instead aims to consider Zionism as a mass movement . . .” (p. xv). Examining the largest public events in Mandate Palestine, Shoham uses Purim to identify the ideological, capitalistic, and urban nature of the Zionism that, in its own theory, aimed to create a nation of warriors and farmers.

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                                                                                                    Holiday Liturgy

                                                                                                    Liturgical studies focus primarily on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Gershon 1994, Swartz and Yahalom 2005, and Unsdorfer 1963 are critical studies of specific aspects of the liturgy, set in their historical and theological context. The other works listed here are aimed at people who hope to enhance their holiday observance. These studies clarify the holidays’ ideology and explain how specific aspects of the liturgy express that meaning. Arzt 1963 is the classic commentary on the High Holiday prayer book, delineating the history and meaning of the poetic compositions and prayers of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Jakobovits 2002 and Hammer 2003 have similar goals. Reimer and Kates 1997 (cited under Women and Festival Observance) is unique, examining the scriptural lections read on the High Holidays with an eye to the themes particularly pertinent to the experience of women.

                                                                                                    • Arzt, Max. Justice and Mercy: Commentary on the Liturgy of the New Year and the Day of Atonement. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963.

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                                                                                                      Each prayer of the High Holidays is addressed through an analysis of its authorship, provenance, and meaning, followed by an assessment of the prayer’s theological underpinnings and contemporary significance. Pertinent passages from Rabbinic literature are cited to expand upon each prayer’s central idea. Insofar as all Jewish prayer services share the same liturgical framework, this study winds up treating all of the standard weekday, festival, and Sabbath prayers.

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                                                                                                      • Gershon, Stuart Weinberg. Kol Nidrei: Its Origin, Development, and Significance. Northvale, NJ: J. Aronson, 1994.

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                                                                                                        First published in 1977, this remains an important study of the history and meaning of the prayer service that inaugurates the observance of Yom Kippur by declaring that all vows are annulled. Gershon details the medieval origins and legal foundation of this ritual, evaluates the centuries of debates over its meaning, and surveys its function in contemporary Judaism. He considers Kol Nidrei’s spiritual as much as its legal/theological importance throughout the generations.

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                                                                                                        • Hammer, Reuven. Or Hadash: A Commentary on Sidur Śim Shalom le-Shabat ṿe-Yom Tov. New York: Rabbinical Assembly of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, 2003.

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                                                                                                          A prayer-by-prayer commentary to the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s holiday and Sabbath prayer book, covering each prayer’s history, theology, and contemporary meaning. The commentary is printed marginally around the prayers themselves (Sidur Śim Shalom’s pagination is retained), allowing this book to function as a companion to worship.

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                                                                                                          • Jakobovits, Immanuel. Companion to the High Holydays Prayer Book. London and Portland, OR: Vallentine Mitchell, 2002.

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                                                                                                            Essays and sermons on the themes of the High Holiday season and its liturgy. Many of these sermons derive from broadcasts delivered from 1968 through 1971. The goal is to open readers to the meanings and values annually renewed through High Holiday observance.

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                                                                                                            • Swartz, Michael D., and Joseph Yahalom, eds. Avodah: An Anthology of Ancient Poetry for Yom Kippur. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                              A study of eight synagogue poems describing the Yom Kippur rite, produced from the 5th to 9th centuries CE. Some appear here for the first time. The authors establish and translate the Hebrew text and guide readers through intricate allusions and references. The book’s introduction and conclusion establish the poems’ settings and importance. This is an important presentation of a literature our knowledge of which is still in its infancy.

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                                                                                                              • Unsdorfer, Julius. The Karaite Day of Atonement Liturgy: With Selected Translations. Leeds, UK: Leeds University Oriental Society, 1963.

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                                                                                                                A critical edition and translation of the Karaite liturgy for Yom Kippur, which Unsdorfer compares with the corresponding Rabbinic and Samaritan rites.

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                                                                                                                Women and Festival Observance

                                                                                                                The emergence in the 19th century of new modes of Jewish practice, and even the ordination of women rabbis by the American Reform movement beginning in 1972 (followed by the Conservative movement in 1985), did little to change the place of women within Jewish prayer, holidays, and other rituals. Family seating, vernacular prayer, and even the increased role of women as synagogue lay leaders did little to change the content or focus of the liturgy. God still was referred to exclusively in male terms; the heritage of Judaism was traced through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and women’s unique life experiences and spiritual needs were little examined. The beginning of a slow path toward new attitudes and practices was marked by the first Women’s Seder, organized by E. M. Broner in New York in 1976. The Haggadah used at that Seder was published as Broner and Nimrod 1994, and Broner’s central place in recovering a Judaism that speaks directly to women is reflected as well in Broner 1999 and in volumes that develop similar themes: Cohen Anisfeld, et al. 2007 and Adelman 1996. Reimer and Kates 1997 brings this feminist sensibility to the High Holidays, interpreting the Torah readings that, without careful examination, might seem irrelevant to women’s lives and experience. Cohen Anisfeld, et al. 2003 takes a reflective stance, collecting essays that evaluate what the women’s movement has accomplished and offering directions it should consider, but also offering specific ideas for rituals and readings of tradition aimed at the experience of women.

                                                                                                                • Adelman, Penina V. Miriam’s Well: Rituals for Jewish Women around the Year. New York: Biblio Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                  A guide to women’s celebration of Rosh Hodesh, the New Moon, in ancient Judaism a time of women’s spirituality and ritual practice. Here New Moon rituals are reclaimed and developed as pathways toward modern women’s spirituality. The book is organized according to the months of the Jewish calendar. The relationship of each month’s Torah readings and holidays to the distinctive experiences of women is elaborated and appropriate rituals set out.

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                                                                                                                  • Broner, E. M. Bringing Home the Light: A Jewish Woman’s Handbook of Rituals. San Francisco: Council Oak, 1999.

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                                                                                                                    A handbook of women’s spirituality, expressed in the rituals and stories of Jewish heritage, reclaimed to speak to the distinctive experience of women. Through memoirs, poetry, and ritual, Broner seeks to empower women to recover a Judaism that expresses their reality and supports their spirituality and psychological needs. Organized according to the seasons of the year, Broner’s book covers holiday observances as well as rituals for life-cycle events.

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                                                                                                                    • Broner, E. M., and Naomi Nimrod. The Women’s Haggadah. San Francisco: Harper, 1994.

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                                                                                                                      The text of the women’s Seder that Broner first organized in 1976, an event that ever since has inspired women to search for Jewish traditions’ meanings for themselves. First published in 1976 in Ms. magazine, the Women’s Haggadah incorporates women and reflects on women’s experiences, which are missing in the classical Haggadah, where men alone appear. Thus Broner’s text speaks of four daughters and women’s plagues, and the hymn Dayenu is reframed to reflect women’s needs and concerns.

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                                                                                                                      • Cohen Anisfeld, Sharon, Tara Mohr, and Catherine Spector, eds. The Women’s Passover Companion: Women’s Reflections on the Festival of Freedom. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2003.

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                                                                                                                        The themes of Passover—exile and Exodus, oppression and liberation, history and memory—as they relate to the experience of women. Discusses contemporary women’s Seders, new and reclaimed Passover rituals aimed at women, the role of women in the Exodus experience, the stories that reflect the place of women within the Passover narrative, and the relationship between Passover’s ideology and a vision of justice for the world.

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                                                                                                                        • Cohen Anisfeld, Sharon, Tara Mohr, and Catherine Spector, eds. The Women’s Seder Sourcebook: Rituals and Readings for Use at the Passover Seder. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2007.

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                                                                                                                          Organized according to the order of traditional Passover Haggadahs, the volume compiles feminist innovations and additions that facilitate introducing women’s voices and rituals into the Seder. Rather than a women’s Haggadah per se, the book provides sufficient material (over 200 rituals, readings, commentaries, and blessings) to allow Seder leaders and participants to personalize their Seder experience in ways that are uniquely meaningful to them.

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                                                                                                                          • Reimer, Gail Twersky, and Judith A. Kates, eds. Beginning Anew: A Woman’s Companion to the High Holy Days. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.

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                                                                                                                            Women writers reflect on Torah and Haftarah texts read on the High Holidays, to “open up the spirituality as well as the psychological and emotional import of the texts . . . and reflect on the effect of reading these texts in the context of this sacred time” (p. 14). They identify and expound themes that pertain to the experience of women so as to counter the holidays’ masculine imagery and symbolism.

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                                                                                                                            The Holidays in Jewish Spirituality and Mysticism

                                                                                                                            The past decades have witnessed the emergence and remarkable growth of Jewish Renewal, a nondenominational ideology that emphasizes Jewish spirituality and that is associated with mindfulness techniques, with the Kabbalah, and with the mystical reading of Judaism found in Hasidism. Some of the most important books referenced here, for instance, the works of Heschel 1951 and Steinsaltz and Eisenberg 2000, are prior to and separate from the Renewal movement. But they are foundational in delineating spiritual comprehensions of the value and place of the holidays in contemporary Jewish life. Other studies—Blumenthal 1994, Strassfeld 2006, and the classic in this category, Waskow 2012—are conscious proposals that read the holidays as contexts for spiritual encounters between the self and the divine.

                                                                                                                            • Blumenthal, David R. God at the Center: Meditations on Jewish Spirituality. Northvale, NJ: J. Aronson, 1994.

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                                                                                                                              The book studies the Torah meditations of the early-modern Hasidic master Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev. The final forty pages concern Levi Yitzhak’s spiritual reflections on each holiday, which Blumenthal presents and explains. His goal is to “help people with their inner lives” (p. xi) by making available a resource of Jewish spirituality, interpreted and presented for the modern reader. The book was originally published in 1988 by Harpercollins.

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                                                                                                                              • Heschel, Abraham Joshua. The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man. With wood engravings by Ilya Schor. New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1951.

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                                                                                                                                Heschel’s most widely read book interprets the Sabbath within classical Rabbinism, Kabbalah, and Hasidism. Foremost is the mystical idea of the intersection of space and time. He writes, “The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals” (p. 8). Observance assures restoration to sacred space (Jerusalem); violation means removal from the sacred center. Heschel shows how Judaism finds meaning in time’s offer of eternity rather than in the much less meaningful material things that fill space.

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                                                                                                                                • Klagsbrun, Francine. The Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day. New York: Harmony, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                  An exploration of the Sabbath’s origins and function within today’s world. Along with reflections on Sabbath ritual and with a focus on women and the Sabbath, Klagsbrun asks of the meaning of Sabbath rest and its relationship to holiness. She additionally questions what the Sabbath teaches about our relationship to nature. The book reflects the search for the meaning and values of an ancient practice for contemporary practitioners.

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                                                                                                                                  • Lamm, Norman. Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays. New York: RIETS, Yeshiva University Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                    Rabbi Lamm’s reflections on the holidays, taken from sermons delivered at the Jewish Center in New York City. One of the most profound thinkers of Modern Orthodoxy, Rabbi Lamm presents a view of the spiritual and philosophical meaning of Jewish life intended to speak to all contemporary Jews.

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                                                                                                                                    • Levy, Benjamin. A Faithful Heart: Preparing for the High Holy Days; A Study Text Based on the Midrash Maaseh Avraham Avinu. Foreword by Norman Cohen. New York: UAHC, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                      A translation of and commentary to the late medieval Midrashic text Massah Avraham Avinu, probably composed in Persia and popular among Jews in the Muslm world. The book examines themes related to the High Holidays: belief in God, repentance, the efficacy of prayer, making ethical choices, and the meaning of being a servant of God.

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                                                                                                                                      • Steinsaltz, Adin, and Josy Eisenberg. The Seven Lights: On the Major Jewish Festivals. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                        A study of the meaning of the holidays as found in the writings of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Lyady (b. 1745–d. 1812), founder of the Chabad movement. The volume is presented as a dialogue between Rabbi Eisenberg and Rabbi Steinsaltz, who, on the foundation of Rabbi Schneur Zalman’s mystical teachings, offers a guide through the observances of the Jewish year. The book began as a series of interviews televised in France.

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                                                                                                                                        • Strassfeld, Michael. A Book of Life: Embracing Judaism as a Spiritual Practice. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                          A guide to a spiritually rich practice of Judaism, the book focuses on meditative and mindfulness practices in daily life, holiday observance, and life cycle events. Talmudic and Midrashic texts and Hasidic and mystical stories and traditional rituals are reconceived to enrich spiritual life; new rituals are suggested. The book was first published by Schocken Books in 2002.

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                                                                                                                                          • Waskow, Arthur Ocean. Seasons of Our Joy: A Modern Guide to Jewish Holidays. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                            One of Jewish Renewal’s most prominent figures suggests new approaches to enhancing the role of holiday observance in a contemporary quest for meaning and spiritual fulfillment. This process requires examining the holidays in relationship to Jewish history and in the context of modern ideas and the quest for religious fulfillment. Waskow suggests ways to situate the holidays within the seasons of the year and to highlight the moods they are meant to evoke. The book was originally published in 1991 by Beacon Press.

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                                                                                                                                            • Ziff, Joel David. Mirrors in Time: A Psycho-Spiritual Journey through the Jewish Year. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                              The holidays provide opportunities like those found in psychotherapy, leading individuals to focus on how to respond to the challenges they face in their journey through each year. To facilitate this focus, Ziff clarifies the tradition’s arcane mystical concepts in a framework offered by theorists such as Jung and Freud. He reads the festivals as steps in a process of connecting to God and facing opportunities and crises.

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