Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of the Jewish month of Tishri and is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. On this holiday, we sound the shofar, dip apples in honey and greet by saying L'shanah tovah!
Kol Nidre refers to the night before Yom Kippur, which is a Jewish day of atonement, a day set aside for fasting, depriving oneself of pleasures, and repenting from the sins of the previous year.
Sukkot is one of three Jewish harvest festivals that begins five days after Yom Kippur. Historically, it commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters, which is why Jewish people commonly build structures known as Sukkahs today on the holiday.
Shemini Atzeret occurs on the eighth day after Sukkot and symbolizes the completion of the annual cycle of Torah readings.Simchat Torah means "Rejoicing in the Torah" and marks the completion of the annual cycle of weekly Torah readings.
Widely known as the 'Festival of Lights', Hanukkah is an 8 day holiday beginning on the 25th day of Kislev. One of the best known Jewish holidays because of its proximity to Christmas (not because of any religious significance), Jewish people commonly light a new candle on their Hanukkiah each night of this festival holiday symbolized by latkes, dreidels and jelly donuts!
Purim, which falls on the twelth day of Adar, is considered one of the most joyous holidays on the Jewish calendar, recounting a time when the Jewish people lived in Persia and were saved from extermination.
Purim tells the story of King Ahasuerus, Esther, Mordecai, Vashti and Haman. It includes an annual Megillah reading of the Book of Esther where people blot out the evil Haman's name by using groggers, or noise makers, and then enjoy a festive party with games or parade.
The holiday of Passover is another harvest festival which symbolizes the Jews exodus from Egypt after generations of slavery. This story is told in Exodus and the holiday lasts 7 or 8 days depending on your observance. Jewish people celebrate by preparing a Seder, the festival meal, which includes the retelling of the Passover story as well as special feast prepared with only unleavened grains. Many Jewish people observe the holiday by refraining from all leavened grain products and related foods during the course of the holiday.
Lag B'omer literally connects Pesach (Exodus) to Shavu'ot (giving of the Torah). According to the Torah, there is an obligation to count the days from Passover to Shavu'ot. This period is known as the Counting of the Omer and an omer is literally a unit of measure.
Shavu'ot is the third harvest festival and remembers the giving of the Torah. It is customary for observant Jews to stay up the entire first night of Shavu'ot and study Torah as part of the symbolism of the holiday.
Tisha B'av quite literally translates to the "ninth of Av" which is the month that this day of mourning falls in. Occcuring in July or August, Tisha B'av commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av, as well as the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people which have all occurred on this same day.