Holidays

We look forward to sharing the holidays with you!
Our holiday services are full of celebration and tradition. All of our festivals and holidays are open to the public. See our calendar for specific dates and times of services.

Click here for the Jewish holiday calendar for 2018-2022.

HOLIDAYS

  • HIGH HOLY DAYS

    L’shanah Tovah! Please join our congregational family for a spiritually deep High Holy Day experience through prayer, music, reflection, and learning. 

    HIGH HOLY DAY TICKETS

    High Holy Day tickets are free to anyone who wants to join us to celebrate the New Year. However, tickets are required for all services. Members will receive their tickets in the mail. Please contact the temple office to request guest tickets.

    RECIPROCAL TICKETS

    Plan to be away for the holidays and need tickets to another Reform synagogue? Just give us a call, we will arrange reciprocal tickets for our members in good standing.

    For tickets or additional information, please contact Michelle at mwarren@cgoh.org or call 518-374-8173.

    SELICHOT PROGRAM AND SERVICE

    Selichot is observed on the Saturday prior to Rosh Hashanah. The month of Elul precedes Tishrei, the month beginning the New Year. In Elul, we begin to prepare ourselves for the sanctity of the New Year. Many prepare themselves spiritually for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur by participating in a special service called Selichot (“forgiveness”). As part of the service, our colorful Torah coverings are replaced with our High Holy Day white mantels. This is a truly moving experience. Prior to the service, Rabbi Matt will lead a discussion with a light meal. Please RSVP for the meal to Michelle at mwarren@cgoh.org.

    2ND DAY OF ROSH HASHANAH

    Our annual 2nd Day of Rosh Hashanah Program and Service is held at the William K. Collins, Jr. Park in Clifton Park from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This well-attended event offers a creative family-friendly service, with activities for kids, learning and discussion sessions for adults, lunch, and of course something sweet (cake, cookies, apples, and honey)! This event is free and open to the public.

    Please RSVP to Michelle at mwarren@cgoh.org or call her at 518-374-8173.

    HHD PROGRAMS FOR YOUTH

    Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at 9:45 a.m:

    ● Just For Tots (2-5 years old): Trust your little ones to our professional childcare staff from Niskayuna Co-op Nursery
    School. They ensure that your toddlers are well cared for while you enjoy services. Parents can either pre-register or sign
    in when you arrive. A cell phone contact number is required. Snacks provided.
    ● Terrific Tishrei (K-4th grade): With a team of dynamic teachers, teen assistants, and volunteers your children will explore
    the holidays through games, stories, creative activities, and student-oriented prayer sessions. Snacks provided.
    ● Teshuvah Tacos (5th-7th grade): This new and engaging program includes a Rosh Hashanah Teshuvah Taco Scavenger
    Hunt and service led by GOHTY board members and our Madrichim.

    BOOK OF MEMORY

    Traditionally prepared each year prior to the High Holy Days, lists the names of those you wish to remember at the Yizkor Service on Yom Kippur. The purpose of the book is to memorialize your loved ones. The deadline to submit names is July 28, 2017. For more information, please contact Kathy at klaws@cgoh.org.

    SICM HHD FOOD DRIVE 

    items most needed, but any nonperishable items are fine; no glass please: baby cereal, baby formula, canned meat/fish products, spaghetti sauce, jam, jelly, peanut butter, cereal, boxed pasta, pudding and jello, box mac and cheese, diapers, toilet paper.

    Learn more about the High Holy Days

     
  • Sukkot, a Hebrew word meaning “booths” or “huts,” refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest, as well as the commemoration of the forty years of Jewish wandering in the desert after Sinai.

    Sukkot is celebrated five days after Yom Kippur on the 15th of Tishrei and is marked by several distinct traditions. One tradition, which takes the commandment to “dwell in booths” literally, is to build a sukkah, a booth or hut. A sukkah is often erected by Jews during this festival, and it is common practice for some to eat and even live in these temporary dwellings during Sukkot. sukkot kids decorating

    Temple NY Harvest Sukkot Celebration: on 9.23.18 beginning at 4 pm as we decorate our sukkah, enjoy a NY style pizza dinner and attend the 7:00 p.m. Sukkot service in our newly decorated sukkah. And bring a NY harvest dessert. Please RSVP to klaws@cgoh.org or call 518-374-8173

    Other Sukkot Celebrations 2018:

    Family Sukkot Fun on 9/22/18 at 12:30 p.m. Potluck lunch, decorate the Sukkah, and outdoor lawn games.

    Adults Sukkot Party on 9/23.18 at 12:30 p.m. Potluck lunch and smooze with friends under the sukkah.

    Both events take place at the home of our Jesse and Mindy Holland. RSVP for these programs to Mindy at mholland@cgoh.org or 518-365-5084.

  • Simchat Torah, Hebrew for “rejoicing in the Law”, celebrates the completion of the annual reading of the Torah.

    Simchat Torah is a very joyous occasion in which we affirm our view of the Torah as a tree of life and demonstrate a living example of never-ending, lifelong study.

    The Torah scrolls are taken out of the Ark followed by the students singing, dancing, and waving flags. During the Torah service, the concluding section of Deuteronomy is read, and immediately following, the opening section of Genesis, or B’reishit as it is called in Hebrew, is read.

    SIMCHAT TORAH & CONSECRATION Celebration: On 9.30.18 at 7:00 p.m. we’ll encircle the sanctuary with an open Torah Scroll and read from it. Our past b’nai mitzvah students will read excerpts from their Torah portion. We’ll dance and sing! Our kindergarten and new primary grade students will receive the symbolic gift of a miniature Torah Scroll. Our grade 3 Hebrew students will be recognized and honored for their important commitment… this is the year they will learn to read Hebrew on Sunday mornings.

  • Hanukkah (meaning Dedication)Hanukkah candle lighting with Rabbi Matt

    The joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and “re-dedication” of the temple in Jerusalem.

    The modern home celebration of Hanukkah centers around the lighting of the Hanukkah, a special menorah for Hanukkah; unique foods are eaten like latkes and jelly doughnuts called Sufganiot; and special songs and games are played.

    Hanukkah Dinner: We invite you to partake in the warmth of our traditional Hanukkah dinner and service on 12.9.18 at 5:00 p.m. We will have a traditional chicken and latke dinner. Bring along your family menorah to light in the good company of fellow congregational members gathering to celebrate the Festival of Lights.

    For more information or to RSVP for the dinner please contact Klaws@cgoh.org or call 518-374-8173. 

    Mona Golub’s Famous Homemade Latke Batter Sale:

    Each year Mona whips up batches of her latke batter and donates them for a fundraiser to benefit out temple youth group. See our temple bulletin for dates for pre-order and day of sale. latkes

    Each quart size batch makes 12 three inch latkes for $10 per quart.

    All proceeds benefit Gates of Heaven Temple Youth group (GOHTY). 

  • Purim is celebrated by the reading of the Scroll of Esther, known in Hebrew as the Megillat Esther, which relates the basic story of Purim.

    Under the rule of King Ahasuerus, Haman, the King’s prime minister, plots to exterminate all of the Jews of Persia. His plan is foiled by Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai, who ultimately save the Jews of the land from destruction. The reading of the Megillah is typically a rowdy affair, punctuated by booing and noise-making when Haman’s name is read aloud.

    Purim Celebration: on Erev Purim, 3.20.19 dinner at 6:00 p.m. and service at 7:00 p.m. Our celebration includes a themed dinner, complete with Hamantaschen; fun games, songs, and activities for the everyone; followed by a service with a hilarious themed skit and the reading our Megillah, which was handmade by our Religious School students. Don’t forget to come in costume!

    For more information or to RSVP for dinner, contact Kathy at klaws@cgoh.org or 518-374-8173.

  • Pesach, known as Passover in English, is a major Jewish spring festival, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt over 3,000 years ago.

    The ritual observance of this holiday centers around a special home service called the Seder (meaning order) and a festive meal; the prohibition of chametz (leaven); and the eating of matzah (an unleavened bread). On the eve of the fifteenth day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, we read from a book called the hagaddah (meaning telling), which contains the order of prayers, rituals, readings, and songs for the Pesach Seder. The Pesach Seder is the only ritual meal in the Jewish calendar year for which such an order is prescribed, hence its name.

    PASSOVER SERVICES AND SEDERS

    Our traditional Seder is held the first night of Passover at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are required. See the temple calendar and March bulletin for more information or contact Michelle at mwarren@cgoh.org or 518-374-8173.

    Passover Yizkor Service held at 9:00 a.m. on the last day of Passover.

    Women’s Passover Seder this seder is a vegetarian potluck and is open to the community. All women are welcome! See our temple calendar and March bulletin for more information, or contact Paula Metzner at 518-265-9796.
    (Very very young women are welcome, but this is a long and talky event, not a good fit for those who need crayons to keep from squirming.)

  • Tu B’Shevat or the “New Year of the Trees” is Jewish Arbor Day.

    The holiday is observed on the fifteenth (tu) of Shevat. Scholars believe that Tu B’Shevat was originally an agricultural festival, marking the emergence of spring. After the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.C.E., this holiday was a way for Jews to symbolically bind themselves to their former homeland by eating foods that could be found in Israel. In the sixteenth and seventeenth century Kabbalists created a ritual for Tu B’Shevat similar to the Passover Seder.

    Today Tu B’Shevat has also become a tree planting festival in Israel, in which both Israelis and Jews around the world plant trees in honor or in memory of a loved one or friend.

    You may purchase trees through our Sisterhood member, Jane Golub, who has been organizing this initiative for over 20 years. The fee is $10 per tree and a certificate will be sent to acknowledge the donation. For more information or to purchase trees, please contact Jane Golub or call the temple office at 518-374-8173.

    Bring Tu B’Shevat Home with You: Most people remember Tu B’Shevat as a time in religious school when they planted a tree in Israel for someone by filling out a form and paying a small amount. The recipient would then receive a nice certificate, and that was the extent of the celebration.

    But this festival has very ancient roots, going back to the practice of bringing the first fruits to the Temple. We can draw on those to bring this holiday into modern focus.

    Israel needs a prodigious number of trees, so planting one is never a bad idea. But we live in Schenectady, and this potentially lovely festival often gets lost in the bustle of our urban lives.

    There are seven species of fruits and grains that are traditional on this holiday. They include wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, dates, honey, nuts with shells, and one new fruit you’ve never had before. You also need grape juice or wine. We are encouraged to use other fruits as well.

    Put together a meal that uses some or all of these ingredients, which will give it a decidedly Middle Eastern theme and remind you of our roots. Use the occasion to talk to your family about trees that bear fruit and why they are important. Expand on this to talk about “living green”. If you don’t recycle in your home, now is the perfect time to start. Choose one “green” activity that you can do together:

    • Start an herb garden on a window sill.
    • Have a “green hour” where you turn off all the lights.
    • Go paperless for a day.
    • If you like craft projects, make your own paper from newspaper or rags, make some papier mache, or brew your own root beer from the seven species.
    • Many people have a Tu B’Shevat Seder, in which the fruits are celebrated. If you want to do this, go to, which will explain the practice. There are plenty of websites that can offer suggestions on how to do this mini-Seder as well. If you don’t want to have a Seder, choose a few topics to talk about, such as vegetarianism vs. eating meat, or why the first fruits of the season are important.