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Shabbat and Holiday Celebrations & Services

Our services are fully egalitarian, balancing traditional and creative elements, with a mix of Hebrew and English. We connect to our culture with uplifting traditional and contemporary music and sermons that show us how the lessons from the past are relevant to our lives today.

Shabbat and holiday services are accessible in various ways. The entire community is welcome to join us in person or online via Streamspot, YouTube, or Facebook Live. PJTC members also have Zoom access for a more interactive experience.

We understand that our congregants find and express spirituality in ways beyond attending services. We also offer connections through meditation, small group discussions, lifecycle event support, memorial opportunities, and more. 

ShabbatHavdalahPassover  |  Yom Hashoah  |  Yom Hazikaron & Yom Ha'atzmaut   |  Shavuot  | Tisha B'Av  |  Tu B'Av  |  Elul  |  Rosh Hashanah  |  Yom Kippur  |  Sukkot  |  Shemini Atzeret & Simchat Torah  |  Hanukkah  |  Purim

SHABBAT

Leaning on the spirit of our ancestors, our vision of prayer is dynamic, constantly flowing and ever-changing. Please join us as together we discover what an uplifting prayer experience can feel like. Services may be preceded or followed by refreshments sponsored by one of our members, committees, or groups. Friday night services will begin at 7:20PM when we'll warm up with Shirah (music) led by Cantor Ruth, followed at 7:30PM by a music-infused service.

Saturday morning services begin at 9:30AM with traditional and contemporary davening (prayer), Torah commentary, and discussion followed by a festive Kiddush luncheon sponsored by one of our members, committees, or groups. Email Melissa Levy, melissa@pjtc.net and copy Theresa Brekan, theresa@pjtc.net to sponsor a Kiddush luncheon.

Sunday minyan begins at 9:30AM on weekends when we are celebrating B’nai Mitzvah the following weekend. Kitah Zayin (7th grade students) and their families join the minyan as part of the LBSRS (religious school) curriculum.

HAVDALAH

At Havdalah we relinquish that extra soul but hope that the sweetness and holiness of the day will remain with us during the week. 

This beautiful weekly ceremony that marks the end of Shabbat and the beginning of the new week includes four blessings. If you'd like the Hebrew (or transliteration) PJTC uses during the ritual, you can download a copy HERE

If you are observing the holiday at home, you can purchase or make your own ritual objects. The items you will need are:

  1. A cup filled with grape juice (or wine if there are adults present). 
  2. A spice box. You can make one in a mint tinin a spice bag, or stud an orange with cloves! (Really, all you need is something that smells nice.)
  3. A havdalah candle. This would either be multi-wick candle or you can hold any two candles together.

 

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ELUL

The month prior to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is Elul. It is used as a time to mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepare for the transition to a new year. Jewish leaders encourage the month of Elul to be a time of introspection and personal stock-taking (known in Hebrew as cheshbon hanefesh…an accounting of the soul), as well as a time for repentance (known in Hebrew as teshuvah...returning). The customs of Elul are meant as preparation for Rosh Hashanah, when Jewish tradition teaches us that divine judgement and forgiveness is given.

What are these customs?

The blowing of the shofar: It is tradition to blow the shofar every weekday after morning services to rouse us from complacency and jolt us into repentance.

Psalm 27: It is customary to recite daily Psalm 27, which assures us of God’s protection and also pleas that he not forsake his people.

S’lichot: The prayers of forgiveness called S’lichot, including also the 13 Attributes of Mercy, are recited during Elul. Some communities begin the recitation at the beginning of Elul, though Ashkenazi Jews generally begin the practice on the Saturday prior to Rosh Hashanah. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF S'LICHOT, RESOURCES & PROGRAMMING.

Elul’s Weekly Torah Readings: The Torah readings during the month of Elul provide timely cues for people to awaken to reflection and observe their lives…

  • Parashat Re’eh – Reminds us to see clearly the possibilities presented in each moment and to choose the path of blessing.
  • Parashat Shoftim – Invites us to consider the unfinished business that tears at our hearts.
  • Parashat Ki Teitzei – Demands that rather than impulsively ceding to our desires, we watch them for deeper truths to be revealed.

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ROSH HASHANAH
(September 15-17, 2023)

We hold evening services Erev Rosh Hashanah and morning services the following two days. For the past several years, the PJTC community has joined together at the LA Arboretum for our annual Tashlich ceremony to “cast away” our sins. Tashlich also includes a family-friendly brief outdoor Rosh Hashanah children’s service. This year, we continue our tradition of commemorating Tashlich at the LA Arboretum Sunday, September 17 at 5PM with a family service. Adult and family learning, and the Tashlich ceremony begins at 5:30PM.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year, taking place at the beginning of the month of Tishrei - the beginning of the Jewish civil calendar year. It is a two-day celebration of the new year, which follows a month of spiritual and emotional preparation during the month of Elul. This celebration is meant to both rejoice in the completion of another year and to look inward and take stock of that year that has passed. Rosh Hashanah also precedes the Ten Days of Repentance, also known as the Days of Awe, which concludes in the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. 

To learn more about the customs and significance of Rosh Hashanah, as well as find some helpful online resources, click here.

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YOM KIPPUR
(September 24-25, 2023)

We conclude the Days of Awe by fasting and coming together Erev Yom Kippur with the haunting melodies of Kol Nidre services. We join together the entire following day to right the wrongs of the past year and look ahead to the ways we can improve ourselves and our community in the year to come. There is a brief break midday where congregants rest, choose from learning and meditation opportunities, or enjoy an outdoor family service before joining together for Minchah, Ne’ilah, Havdalah, and Break-the-Fast to-go bites.

Yom Kippur is the Jewish religion's Day of Atonement (reparation for a wrong or injury). Jews traditionally ask for forgiveness for their wrongdoings over the past year, believing that on this day, God places a seal on the Book of Life, in which he has inscribed our names for the year to come. This one day of observation falls ten days after Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), beginning at sundown and ending at sundown the following day.

To learn more about the customs and significance of Yom Kippur, as well as find some helpful online resources and details about our upcoming programming and services, click here.

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SUKKOT
(September 29- October 6, 2023)

We host services the first two mornings of Sukkot, the “Festival of Booths.” Our youth group assists in setting up members’ sukkot at their homes. Congregants are encouraged to host each other in their backyard sukkot for a potluck meal throughout the holiday, or join us at PJTC for our annual Friday potluck dinner in our giant sukkah. Our Hazak 55+ group has also planned a Sukkot dinner and movie night this year on October 3.

Sukkot, named after the huts that Jewish people are supposed to dwell within during this week-long celebration, begins five days after Yom Kippur. These sukkot (the huts) represent the temporary structures the Israelites constructed and lived in during their 40 years of desert wandering following their escape from slavery in Egypt. Also referred to as hag ha-asif (the harvest festival), much of the ritual of Sukkot is centered around thanking God for the completed harvest before the coming of the winter rains. Sukkot is a joyful holiday, focused on rejoicing about the bounties provided to us by the land and God’s will. The simplicity of spending as much time as possible in nature and within the very basic, temporary shelter of a sukkah is meant to remind us of what is actually important in life, taking focus away from material possessions and modern world complications.

For a dictionary of Hebrew words and terms you may need to know during Sukkot, click here.

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SHEMINI ATZERET & SIMCHAT TORAH
(October 6-8, 2023) 

In addition to services on the mornings of Sh’mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, we also celebrate the beginning of the new Torah cycle with an intergenerational party. The Torah is unrolled, and recent (or not-so-recent!) B’nai Mitzvah students have the opportunity to reread parts of their Torah portion for the community, while upcoming B’nai Mitzvah students also read a verse or two from the Torah for the first time. We celebrate with singing, dancing with the help of a professional DJ and, of course, food! This year, the celebration will be held Sunday morning October 8, during religious school hours, but for the entire community to party together. You can sign up here

After the seven joyous days of Sukkot, we celebrate Shemini Atzeret (The Eighth Day of Assembly), marking the end of Sukkot. During Shemini Atzeret, we gather again in the sukkah to celebrate God and our bounty, but without ritual and prayer…like the last guests at the party who have so much reason to rejoice that they stick around for one more hoorah. During Shemini Atzeret, we also pray for the rejuvenating rains of the next season. Shemini Atzeret transitions us into Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in Torah), when–just as we mark the transition from harvest season to our rainy season of winter–we mark the end of the yearly cycle of public readings from the Torah and commemorate the beginning of a new cycle of Torah readings.

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HANUKKAH
(December 7-15, 2023)

PJTC traditions include member-hosted backyard candle lighting/potlucks throughout the holiday, a Hanukkah Give & Get tzedakah/gift exchange, and a free, festive community meal with candle lighting at PJTC hosted by the Whitman family (scheduled this year for Friday, December 8).

Hanukkah—also known as "The Festival of Lights" and "The Festival of Rededication"—is observed beginning on the Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev (usually in December, but sometimes in late November). It is a celebration of when the Jewish people of Judea (what is now central Israel) rose up against the Syrian Greeks who had taken over the land, attempting to oppress and assimilate the Jews to Hellenic culture. Led by Judah Maccabee, the Jewish forces that revolted against King Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid Empire recaptured the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been turned into a pagan shrine. The story tells us that Judah and his followers lit the Temple with only one small bottle of oil, which miraculously lasted for eight days, as they cleansed and rededicated the Temple to Israel's God. The eight days of Hanukkah represent the eight miraculous days of light and restoration of the beloved Temple.

Hanukkah's core is a celebration of our ancestors' fight against religious oppression and of the Divine miracle that lit the Temple in Jerusalem, allowing Judah and his followers to restore and reclaim it for the Jewish people. The holiday is a symbol of Zionism in today's world as well as a reminder that religious freedom is worth fighting for, protecting and even rebuilding when necessary.

For more information about Hanukkah's customs, fun & helpful resources and PJTC's holiday programming, click here.

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TU B'SHVAT
(January 24-25, 2024)

Congregants team up with our religious school for activities to learn about the Birthday of the Trees. Stay tuned for how we'll celebrate this year, likely on Sunday morning January 21 or 28!

Tu B'Shvat is the Jewish "Arbor Day" or "Earth Day" where we celebrate the birthday of the trees! During this holiday, we emphasize actions and activism related to the environment and the natural world.

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PURIM
(March 23-24, 2024)

Tentative plans for this year include an adult Megillah reading Saturday evening March 23, followed by a Purim Masquerade Ball (fundraiser) with parallel youth programming including a sleepover for older children so parents can mingle. The annual Purim Carnival (on Sunday, March 24, 2024) brings volunteers of all ages to run the booths, while our children enjoy the playful atmosphere. The morning
begins with a young child- friendly megillah reading. Each year, Sisterhood also creates mishloach manot (gift bags) and the entire community is encouraged to deliver them to each other's homes and spread the joy.

Purim is a celebration of the saving of the Jewish people from a massacre in Persia (modern day Iran) during the period of 539-330BC. The heroine of the story is Esther, as told in her namesake scroll "The Book of Esther." She was a Jewish woman who rose to become the Queen of Persia (though most people were not aware she was Jewish, including the King). When the hateful grand vizier, Haman, plots the destruction of the Jewish people, Queen Esther's cousin and guardian, Mordecai, convinces her to use her power to help her Jewish brethren. Despite being scared for her own life, she bravely reveals her Jewish identity to her husband, King Ahashverosh, and asks him to support her and the Jewish people...and he does! Haman and his followers are punished in place of the Jews that they targeted.

Purim's core is a celebration of Esther's courage and her care for her community over her own safety, which saved the Jewish people in Persia from an evil plot to destroy them. We focus on the joy of knowing our people were saved. We focus on Esther as a role model for putting the care of your community first. And, we focus on the hope that this story gives us, that through the bravery of individuals and the will of God, everything will be alright in the end. 

For more information about Purim's customs, fun & helpful resources and PJTC's holiday programming, click here.

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PASSOVER
(April 22-30, 2024)

PJTC holds services the first two mornings and last two mornings of Passover. We are committed to ensuring all who need a place to go for 1st night seder find one within our community. We hold a giant, catered, 2nd night super seder at PJTC, with an early dinner option for families with young children. Check your e-mails in late March for seder fees/reservation forms.

Because in the past, we were slaves. Tonight, thanks to our covenant with the Holy One, the Source of all our blessings, and our connection to each other, we are free.

That’s the answer: We are free. We are free to exercise good judgment that is already saving the lives of the people we care about the most. We are free to draw on the tradition of the Jewish people, of course, but this year we are also blessed by unprecedented Jewish creativity, creativity that has blossomed in the past few weeks to not just make the best of this unprecedented moment, but to make it holy. We are free to add new traditions - even as we’re prompted to add new things to our Seder plate - that will mark this year in our families memories as “that time we got through together, and triumphed.”

To learn more about the Passover holiday and its rituals and to find online resources and details about PJTC's Passover programming, click here.

COUNTING OF THE OMER
(April 22-June 11, 2024)

The seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot are about making each day count. Members host backyard Shabbat potluck dinners each Friday of the Omer.

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YOM HASHOAH
(May 5-6, 2024)

Holocaust remembrance is an essential value at PJTC, and we make sure to listen to survivor stories each year.

Yom HaShoah is a day honoring both those who lost their lives in the Holocaust, those who survived, and those who resisted. We are also responsible for remembering those who came before us. And, we are responsible for the safeguarding of future generations. In this spirit, and in this moment, we will not forget the sacrifices of our ancestors. We will not neglect the honor of those survivors we are blessed to have among us today. We will never again allow indifference to life permit the spread of death within our gates. Instead, we will remember. We will mourn. We will learn. We will grow, as ever, stronger together.

It is customary to light a memorial candle on the eve of Yom HaShoah, as one does for the eve of a Yahrtzeit or Yizkor. Ideally, this should be a candle that burns all night and through the day, like the usual Jewish memorial / yartzeit candles you might find at the supermarket. Your candle should be lit shortly before sundown Monday evening. Place it in a safe location, such as in a sink or on a stovetop away from flammable materials, so that it may be allowed to burn completely over the course of the day and extinguish itself.

Jewish law does not insist on a particular prayer to be said. You may take a moment of silence, or speak whatever is in your heart on the occasion. Please see the resources below for poems or prayers you might like to share in your home.

YOM HAZIKARON & YOM HA'ATZMAUT
(May 12-14, 2024)

From Israeli concerts to guest speakers to hummus tastings, PJTC seeks to ensure congregants are educated and informed about Israel.

Yom Hazikaron honors both those who have fallen in military service to the State of Israel as well as those who have fallen as victims of terrorism within the State of Israel, from before the birth of the modern state to this very day. Yom HaAtzmaut celebrates the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. These days as the Israeli equivalent of our Memorial Day and Independence Day, respectively, with one important difference: they are always observed together. These days are observed every year on the 4th and 5th days of the Hebrew month of Iyar unless either would overlap Shabbat; then both days are moved earlier or later, so that public commemorations and celebrations can go on without the limitations of traditional Shabbat observance. When they are moved, both days are moved. They are never split up. The spirit of holding these days together is that celebrating independence, the realization of a Jewish dream of millennia, is inseparable from honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice to help that dream come true, and to continue to bring that dream to fruition.

 

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SHAVUOT
(June 11-13, 2024)

With PJTC’s value of life-long learning, Shavuot is the perfect time for adult education. Our Tikkun Le’il Shavuot late-night learning sessions are always an engaging opportunity for our congregants to teach and learn from each other. We also hold services both mornings of the holiday.

One of Judaism’s three major pilgrimage festivals, Shavuot originated as an agricultural celebration during which the Israelites brought their first summer harvest to the Temple as a crop offering. By the era of the Talmud, the meaning of Shavuot had shifted to a celebration of the arrival of the Torah, gifted to the Israelites in the form of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai after the mass exodus. Today, Shavuot combines the celebration of these two major religious events to connect us back to both our agricultural roots and our study of the Torah.

In celebration, many families participate in Tikkun Leil Shavuot, an all-night study session of the Torah demonstrating their dedication to the text and the ancient Jewish traditions that it holds. Additionally, dairy foods are consumed to symbolize the sweetness of the Torah, and homes are decorated with flowers and lush greenery to symbolize the blooming flowers found at Mount Sinai before the arrival of the Torah.

With a strong focus on theology, Shavuot symbolizes the beginning of a covenant or formal agreement between God and the Jewish people. It reminds us to embrace and study the Torah, and inspires us with the wisdom of Jewish tradition.

For more information on Shavuot, its customs and traditions, helpful online resources and PJTC Shavuot programming, click here.

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TISHA B'AV
(August 12-13, 2024)

PJTC typically hosts a late-night service by candlelight as we chant from the Book of Lamentations, often in collaboration with other Jewish communities in the area.

W
e come together for a day of communal mourning. It is said that the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem occurred centuries apart on this day, and that many other tragedies have surrounded the day. We come together on this day to not only mourn those misfortunes, but to also lament major calamites that have befallen the Jewish people, such as the Crusades and the Holocaust.

To observe this day of mourning, we fast (no eating or drinking from sunset to sunset) and we disengage from pleasurable activities, such as adorning ourselves with riches, playing games and intimate relations, and spend the day in a more serious manner. The Book of Lamentations is read in synagogue, or at home if you cannot join your community in person.

Have more questions about Tisha B’Av? Click here for some FAQs answered by MyJewishLearning.com.

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Sun, February 25 2024 16 Adar I 5784