Like everything else at Temple Kol Ami, we celebrate Festivals with serious fun! Each of the holidays offers something meaningful for every age. We follow the calendar of festival holidays from Sukkot to Simchat Torah, to Hanukah, Purim, Pesach and Shavuot.
It’s a mitzvah to begin preparations for Sukkot (the festival of booths, or harvest festival) as soon as we conclude Yom Kippur. Members of all ages build and decorate a Sukkah (booth) near the entrance of our building. On Shabbat Hol Hamoed Sukkot, we use our Sukkah for its intended purpose of welcoming new guests as we welcome our congregation’s newest members and receive our newest students into our religious school.
On Sh’mini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, the most joyous day of the year, we celebrate completing and starting the reading of the Torah all over again. We dance our Torah scrolls around in seven Hakafot (going around in a circle). During religious school we unroll our scrolls all the way around the social hall for all our students to see the beginning and end together. The Sh’mini Atzeret (eighth-day convocation) morning service includes the Yizkor (remembrance) memorial prayer.
Chanukah gives us an opportunity for yet another party. On the Friday night during Chanukah (or as we call it, Shabbanukah!), the Religious School Committee fries up fresh latkes for the whole family as kids engage in an epic dreidel competition. Families come together for dinner and bring their hannukiot (Chanukah menorahs) for a communal lighting.
We give Purim a fraylich (joyous) twist. The entire congregation is encouraged to dress up in costume and be treated to a spiel (play), orchestrated by our Cantorial Soloist, Hilary Duberstein. The annual Religious School Purim Carnival put on by the KATY (Kol Ami Temple Youth group ) is always a great time!
Pesach or Passover is celebrated both at home and at our spiritual home in a communal meal at TKA. Members join for an especially memorable evening as Rabbi Gutmann leads “not your bubbie and zayde’s seder.” The last day of Pesach a special morning service includes the Yizkor memorial prayer. Sisterhood’s annual Women’s Seder, usually celebrated a week or so prior to the first night of Passover, always draws a lively crowd for this inspiring and meaningful time together.
Shavuot takes its cues from what was a principal agricultural harvest in ancient Israel. With time, the holiday has become the day we celebrate it as the day the Israelites received the Torah. At Temple Kol Ami, we celebrate the festival by affirming our 10th grade students and by joining with our sister congregation B’nai Israel, in a special evening of study, called Tikkun Leyl Shavuot. The morning of Shavuot includes a special recitation of the Ten Commandments and the Yizkor memorial prayer.