Many Jewish holidays are somber and serious, others are just plain fun. Following are descriptions of how holidays are celebrated and observed at Beth David.
Days of Awe:
Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, are inspirational days for contemplation and Jewish community. At Beth David Reform Congregation we are proud to have many congregants, in addition to clergy, actively participate, by reading portions of the service, performing aliyot (Torah blessings), chanting Torah and reading its translations, and of course blowing the Shofar. Midday, for children we conduct two "kid friendly services - Pre K through grade 3 and grade 4 and up. Teen members of the congregation conduct the Afternoon Service. The honor of participating in the High Holy Day services is offered to congregants based on volunteerism throughout the year.
High Holy Days 2014
For the first time ever, we invite you to join us for a communal Taschlich; a ritual that dates to the 13th Century. During Taschlich we go to a body of water on Rosh Hashanah afternoon and symbolically “cast off our sins” from the previous year by tossing bread into the flowing water. Our brief service will be held at 4:15 pm on Thursday, September 25th at Flat Rock Park, 122 River Road, Gladwyne. Children as well as guests are welcome! We'll provide the bread crumbs, as well as some apples and honey!
For Sukkot, Beth David Men traditionally do the "manual labor" to adorn the sukkkah with corn stalks, hay bales, etc., while our school students decorate it with fruits made in art class of paper and papier mache. We celebrate with an informal outdoor "pizza in the hut" dinner in our sukkah, followed by the traditional service. During the festival, text study sessions occur inside the sukkah.
Simchat Torah is a celebratory service that marks reaching the end of the Torah and then re-rolling it to start again at the beginning. At Beth David the celebration includes marching and dancing all around the Sanctuary to music provided by professional musicians such as the Sally Mitlas Orchestra or Rak Don. This is also when we celebrate all the children beginning Religious School for the first time with a consecration celebration for families.
Hannukah is observed throughout Beth David and of course in our Religious School. The Shabbat that falls during Hannukah is a particularly special occasion that is marked by inviting our families to kindle the lights of Hannukah using their family hannukiah. Services may also include a "living menorah," special music, and other creative activities.
Tu B'Shvat, the New Year of the Trees. Beth David conducts a Tu B'Shvat seder followed by a Tu B'Shvat Oneg to observe the day in a fun and delicious style featuring tree-fruit ice-cream flavors. Pina colada or Cherry Garcia, anyone?
Children and staff come to religious school in costume on Purim and then we are proud to participate, along with most Lower Merion synagogues and day schools, in the Community Purim Carnival that takes place annually at the Kaiserman JCC.
Passover includes text study and a pot-luck dinner for the Shabbat during Pesach. There is no seder at the synagogue since members prefer to celebrate with family and friends at home. For members who may not have a seder to attend, the Beth David office will be happy to help you find one. In recent years there has been a pot-luck seder on the second evening of Passover, which has been organized by congregants.
Shavuot includes the annual telling of the story of Ruth, and at Beth David services are led by the year's Confirmation class. It is a proud moment to watch our young people move forward on their way to becoming responsible, engaged Jewish adults. The Confirmands' joy and friendship is infectious at the special oneg afterward, organized by their families.