jewish time

estimated 2 min read

After spending the day at Fire Island for “my” law firm’s annual outing I’m a bit tired. I always head out there early because I have to leave early. Why? The sun starts to set early these days and I’m tied to the ferry & LIRR schedules.

So I thought today’s post would be a semi-tutorial for my non observant^ jewish readers. I’ll not attempt to explain much today (I need to start making dinner) but I’ll at least hopefully provide some links that will help explain a few things.

I’m perhaps overly simplifying and also not fully proofing what I’ve written below. Please feel free to alert me to errors and I wil correct and improve as I have more “time”. (hah)

ou.org’s judaism 101 glossary
devorah’s glossary
jewfaq.org’s glossary (note has non-orthodox slant)
all of the above have definitions for words I might use that I haven’t loaded into ubernyms yet.
please note that hebrew and yiddish when rendered in roman letters are transliterated. geography can play a role as to how they are “spelled” even though there are “standards”.
Shabbas = Shabbos = Shabbat = Jewish Sabbath = Friday night 18 minutes before sunset through after 3 stars are visible Saturday night (generally at least 42 minutes after sunset. I end up waiting a few minutes more because it just doesn’t look dark enough yet. Many in my community wait 72).

Chabad’s Judiasm 101 is pretty comprehensive. They are known for the kiiruv work (jewish outreach, bringing unobeservant jews into observance). I’ll leave it at that.

How do you figure out sunset? When are all the holidays? Why are they not at the same time every year?
In short the Jewish calendar is lunar. Some holidays are two days, some are one, and it also depends whether or not you are in Israel or even in Jerusalem (or a few other walled cities) the length of some of the holidays. Rosh Hashannah (the new year) is always two days. Holidays always start at sunset and are through the following day. Secular calendars write them for the “main” day. i.e. if Yom Kippur is listed as Monday, it really started Sunday night.

OU.org’s list of holidays
chabad’s time calculator
hebcal.com has an interactive jewish calendar

I hope this is useful for someone!

For me, tonight candle lighting is at 7:33p and Havdallah tomorrow is after 8:31p.


^ changed from orthodox to observant as there are many who do not use that label, nor am i too fond of it. habits die hard.