Chagim (Jewish Festivals)

The Jewish calendar is based on months that correspond to the moon's cycles.

In Judaism the first day of the month corresponds to the new moon and the fifteenth to the full moon. The beginning of the month is called Rosh Chodesh, and occasionally requires some changes to the calendar as noted below. Each day begins with twilight - on Shabbat and Torah festivals (Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Succot and Shemini Atzeret) we extend our joy as long as possible. Thus, those days begin 18 minutes before sunset and end when three stars are visible in the sky. The Hebrew dates of each festival within this “Jewish solar-lunar calendar" are always the same, as it is based only on solar cycles. However, the Gregorian solar calendar of Australia and much of the world is not the same, as it is based only on solar cycles. Accordingly, the Jewish holidays fall on different solar calendar dates each year. The following guidelines for each festival are presented in the order that they fall during each academic school year. In general, Emanuel School will adopt the recognised Sydney standard of observance for these days.

Shabbat (Sabbath)
This day of joy and rest requires cessation from many forms of work. Subject to duty of care, regular school activities should cease at least one hour before sunset on the Friday night. Any official school activities occurring on Shabbat need to be approved by the Deputy Principal (Jewish Life) in accordance with a traditional celebration of Shabbat.

Tu B'Shvat
15th of Shvat. (January / February) This minor festival celebrates the new year for trees - the theme is Judaism's care for the environment. It is traditional to plant trees and have a simple, but festive meal. Normal school hours apply.

Ta'anit Esther
13th of Adar. (February / March) The Fast of Esther requires the school canteen to close. When Purim falls on a Sunday the fast is held on the Thursday prior. Normal school hours apply.

14th of Adar. (February / March) This minor festival celebrates the survival of the Jewish community of ancient Persia from an attempted annihilation. Adjustments are made to the school calendar during the day for the reading of the Scroll of Esther. Students wear fancy dress and school festivities take place during the normal school day. Normal school hours apply.

15th - 23rd of Nissan. (March / April) This Torah festival celebrates the Northern Hemisphere spring and the Jewish redemption from slavery in ancient Egypt. The School must be closed for the eight days of this festival and shuts for the 14th of Nissan, Erev Pesach.

The Sefirah
16th of Nissan to 6th of Sivan. (April / June) This is a 49 day period of mourning that begins on the second day of Pesach and extends till the festival of Shavuot. Emanuel School observes mourning restrictions during the first 33 days of the Sefirah (until Lag B'Omer). No event involving music or dancing should be scheduled during this period, except for Rosh Chodesh Iyar, Yom HaAtzmaut and Lag B'Omer. Normal school hours apply.

Yom HaShoah
27th of Nissan. (April / May) This day commemorates the Shoah (Holocaust). Normal school hours apply.

Yom HaAtzmaut
5th of Iyar. (May) Israel's Independence Day. Students wear blue and white clothing. The restrictions of the Omer are suspended for this day. Normal school hours apply.

Lag B'Omer
18th of Iyar. (May) This day remembers the survival of Torah scholars from a plague. Emanuel School's Omer restrictions conclude on this day. Normal school hours apply.

6th and 7th of Sivan. (May / June) Celebrates the giving of the Torah. School is closed for both days of the festival.

Three Weeks / 9 Days
17th of Tammuz. (July / August). The fast day that begins these three weeks of mourning commemorates the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before its destruction. The school canteen is closed on the 17th of Tammuz. For the next three weeks, as during the Sefirah, no event involving music or dance should be scheduled. In addition, the final nine days of this three week period mark a more intense period of mourning. Group music rehearsals are cancelled, and no event involving music or dance should be scheduled. Normal school hours apply.

Tisha B'Av
9th day of Av. (August) This day of fasting and mourning commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temple in Jerusalem and other major Jewish tragedies. The School canteen is closed. No sporting activities, dancing or playing of music take place, in keeping with the spirit of mourning. Normal school hours apply.

Rosh Hashanah
1st and 2nd of Tishrei. (September / October) This Torah festival commemorates the New Year and the Day of Judgement for all creation. The school closes at 1.10pm on erev Rosh Hashanah and remains closed for both days.

Tzom Gedaliah
3rd of Tishrei. (September / October) This fast day commemorates the assassination of the last governor of Judah. School canteen is closed. Normal school hours apply.

Yamim Noraim
1st through 10th of Tishrei. (September / October) These are the “days of awe" and all school activities must be first approved by the Director Principal (Jewish Life). Other than Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, normal school hours apply.

Yom Kippur
10th of Tishrei. (September / October) This Torah festival, the “Day of Atonement" is a full fast day known as the “Shabbat of Shabbats". The School closes at lunchtime on the erev Yom Kippur (Kol Nidre) and remains closed for the following day.

15th to 21st of Tishrei. (October) The Torah “Festival of Booths" requires that a Succot (booth) must be constructed if school is open during the intermediate days (the 17th to 21st). School is closed on the first two days and normal school hours apply to the intermediate days.

Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah
22nd and 23rd of Tishrei. (October) This Torah festival marks the conclusion of Succot and Tishrei festivals. School is closed.

25th of Kislev - 2nd and 3rd of Tevet. (December) This eight-day festival commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple by the Maccabees and the Jewish struggle for religious freedom. Any school events held during the evenings of Chanukah require the lighting of the Chanukiah with the appropriate number of candles. Normal school hours apply.

Asarah b'Tevet
10th of Tevet. (December / January) This fast day commemorates the siege of Jerusalem. School canteen is closed. Normal school hours apply.