Rosh Hashanah (Annual)

This festival is the Jewish New Year, also known as the ‘Head of the Year’. The holiday (‘holy day’) occurs on the 1st and 2nd second days of the Jewish calendar month of Tishrei which typically falls on a date between the middle of September and the middle of October with the dates varying as a result of the fact that the Jewish religious calendar is lunar-soli[1] based, rather than aligned to the secular annual calendar.

Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world as described in Genesis and on this date specific set readings occur in Schul; services are relatively long, lasting for much of the day; and certain ritual foods are eaten (e.g. round as opposed to plaited Challah (ritual bread also eaten on Shabbat); apples are dipped in honey after performing a blessing, to ask God for a ‘sweet year’ (with the choice of fruit and practice of this custom justified by reference to interpretations of Torah and Talmudic verses pertaining to the Garden of Eden).

Rosh Hashanah is,  in traditional belief, the day on which the fate of each person is inscribed either in the ‘Book of Life’ or the ‘Book of Death’, marking the shape of a person’s year ahead (for good or bad) and whether they will live or die within the coming year.

The shofar or ram’s horn ‘trumpet’ is blown on several occasions during the Rosh Hashanah services to symbolically call Jews to action and awareness. If Rosh Hashanah is on Shabbat then the shofar is sounded on the second day only.

The ritual practice of Tashlich, during which small pieces of bread are taken from a person’s pockets and they then throw the bread into a natural body of flowing water (e.g., river or lake or sea) occurs on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah. Taschlich is performed after the person undertakes a prayer or meditation connected with a deliberate contemplation of this action. Traditionally, the performance of Tashlich is associated with casting away negative behaviours and sins, which will then be washed away by the running water and purified.

Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of a period known as the High Holy Days, incorporating both the New Year and lasting until Yom Kippur (see below).

In the Jewish calendar, the number of the year (in 2015-16 CE we are actually in the year 5776 as dated ‘from the creation of the world’) changes on Rosh Hashanah. Thus in ‘Jewish time’, the year 2014-15 during which the majority of the Ritual Reconstructed project took place, was the year 5775.

 The Days of Awe (Annual)

The ten-day time frame known as the ‘Days of Awe’ (Yamim Nora’im) begins with Rosh Hashanah and ends with Yom Kippur. This period in time is particularly important in Jewish theology and the annual ritual cycle, as during this time Jews are required to focus on repentance (teshuvah) for actions and omissions and seek to make atonement for harm caused during the previous year. Theologically speaking, whilst judgment on an individual’s fate[2] is passed on Rosh Hashanah, the books of life and death remain ‘open’ during the Days of Awe, so that Jews have the opportunity to change which book they are recorded in, before it is ‘sealed’ on Yom Kippur. This period of time should involve reflection and spiritual ‘work’ to amend behaviours and seek forgiveness for harm caused within the past year.

Yom Kippur (Annual)

On this day (10 Tishrei) which is the holiest day in the ritual calendar (perceived of as holier even that Shabbat), the ten day period of the Days of Awe reaches its climax. On Yom Kippur, practicing Jews across the world observe the ‘White Fast’ of the Day of Atonement.

From the evening of the beginning of Yom Kippur until the evening of the next day (a period of 25 hours), many religiously practicing Jews observe a total fast (this is forbidden under religious law for people with medical conditions which require them to eat or drink; or if someone is pregnant for example), pray collectively, and follow a cycle of extensive all-day services within a synagogue. On this day, practicing Jews will (wherever possible) abstain from work, and will spend the day in reflection and repentance for deeds, thoughts or actions which have caused harm or are part of negative behaviours enacted over the past year. Even Jews who regard themselves as ‘secular’ will often attend at least some services on Yom Kippur, typically the Yizkor  (or memorial) service during which people recall the names of, and pray for, their relatives; community members; friends; and those they have loved, who are no longer alive.

Throughout Yom Kippur, as part of the ritual of atonement there is a requirement to abstain from actions associated with comfort and pleasure, for example wearing leather shoes (as animals too are ‘judged’ today although their fate is bound up with that of human beings, and that they die for the provision of comfortable hard-wearing shoes and food used by humans, must be recalled); perfumes, or bathing.

At the end of Yom Kippur, those who have atoned are believed to be able to start the year with a morally clean slate, although there is a requirement that the intention to live ethically is one which must be sought and engaged with throughout the year, rather than simply paying ‘lip service’ for a single day. The shofar or ram’s horn ‘trumpet’ is blown at the end of the day, to mark the end of the final service as the Gates are ‘closed’ and the Book is ‘sealed’.

Throughout the day (which comprises five separate services and additional study periods) core Torah and Haftarah readings are said, in addition to a largely sung liturgy. A core element of Yom Kippur is the Yizkor  service which is said after the morning Torah and Haftarah reading on Yom Kippur , a commemorative, memorial service for those who have died both in the previous year and in the past, and which includes special prayers and readings for those who been murdered as a result of being Jewish (including during the Holocaust and earlier times of communal persecution such as under the Romans). At the end of this day at the close of the final service, in traditional belief, the Book of Life and Death are ‘sealed’.

The Yizkor service and associated lighting of the memorial (Yartzheit) candle which occur on Yom Kippur are fundamental liturgical and ritual elements of this day. These ritual actions are also reflected in two particular Ritual Reconstructed events which are central to the RR project – the Transgender Day of Remembrance and World Aids Day services (see associated notes supporting those films).

The High Holy Days are also a period of charitable giving during which schuls and communities will collect for particular identified causes “the High Holy Days Appeals”, for example poverty stricken elderly Jewish living in East Europe; refugees; or disaster relief around the world.

Sukkot (Annual)

The third festival within the Jewish month of Tishrei, a period which is particularly rich in religious feasts; is called Sukkot, also known as the ‘Feast of Booths’ or the ‘Tabernacles’. It takes place on 15 Tishrei.

This harvest festival (originally, in pre-exilic Judaism a ‘pilgrimage festival’ when Jews living in Israel and within reasonable travelling distance of the land were required to travel to Jerusalem to take part in ritual services at the Temple) lasts for eight days in the diaspora and generally takes place sometime around mid-late October (using the secular Gregorian calendar as a proxy).

During the festival of Sukkot meals should be eaten in a small ‘booth’ or hut (a sukkah), a temporary external structure which to comply with ritual rules must have a minimum of three complete walls; through the roof of which, stars should be able to be visible (ie created with woven branches of willow, etc.) and which is lushly decorated with fruits and vegetation to signify the bounty of the earth. In warmer climates some people also sleep in the Sukkah during the holiday.

Traditionally no work was carried out over the festival and in some Orthodox traditions this is still the rule, but Progressive Judaism only keeps the first day of the festival as a date on which people should refrain from work. In  Orthodox communities the middle four days are Chol Hamoed when work can be carried out. A ‘sukkah’ is the name used for the temporary dwelling in which farmers historically lived in ancient Israel during the harvest season, indicating the agricultural connection to the festival which is stressed in the Book of Exodus (34:22). Leviticus (23: 42-43), also indicates that use of the Sukkah is a reminder of fragile dwellings lived in by the Israelites during their forty years of wandering in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt.

A particularly symbolic ‘waving’ ritual involving ‘four species’ or three plants mentioned in the Torah (Leviticus 23:40) bound into a lulav and a citrus fruit called an Etrog, is mandated to take place during the festival of Sukkot.

Simchat Torah (Annual)

On the day after the eight day of Sukkot the festival of Simchat Torah  (Rejoicing of/in the Law) takes place (typically around late October in the secular calendar). This is a joyous celebration which concludes the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle. On this date the final portion of the Torah cycle (the last parasha of Deuteronomy) is read in the synagogue, followed by the first parasha of Genesis (recommencing the cycle). Each time the Ark (the Ark  is the Aron Hakodesh  which is where the Torah scrolls are kept) is opened for a reading, the Torah scrolls are danced through and around the synagogue, with members of the congregation participating in the celebratory dancing. Special blessings involving all members of the community are also given, as the congregation is ‘called up’ (aliyah) to the Torah.

Events of LGBTQI-Jewish Significance – included in Ritual Reconstructed:
Transgender Day of Remembrance (Annual) 20th November: secular calendar

Every November 20th, transgender people and allies gather around the world to commemorate the victims of transphobic violence killed in the last year as well as to remember those who have lost their lives as a result of persecution or exclusion in earlier times.

See downloadable information linked to the film of Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) elsewhere on this website to see how TDoR commemorations have been reconfigured and reclaimed so that this ‘secular’ event has incorporated specific Jewish elements of ritual significance such as the use of a yarzheit candle and saying Kaddish.

Events of LGBTQI-Jewish Significance – included in Ritual Reconstructed:
World Aids Day (Annual) 1st December: secular calendar

World Aids Day was first initiated by the World Health Organisation in 1988 as the first global health day, created as a way of raising awareness about HIV+ and AIDS and dispelling myths and stigma.

See downloadable information linked to the film of World Aids Day elsewhere on this website, to see how this event has been reconfigured and reclaimed so that this ‘secular’ commemoration has incorporated specific Jewish elements of ritual significance such as the use of a yarzheit candle and saying Kaddish as well as the inclusion of an Aids Quilt bearing symbols and materials representing both LGBTQI and Jewish identities.

Chanukah also spelt Hanukah (Annual)

This is only one of two Jewish festivals (the other being Purim) which does not have its roots in Torah. It is one of the best known of Jewish festivals to non-Jews, as a result of the coincidence that it occurs near to the Christian Christmas. It is often represented in public discourse as a Jewish Christmas alternative, with the giving of presents and some families even having a ‘Hanukah bush’  thus enabling a syncretic celebration to occur which blends secular elements of the ‘Christmas holiday’ with Jewish tradition and ritual.

Chanukah as a Jewish festival, stripped of other more recent accretions associated with the Christmas season, takes place over eight days, commencing on 25 Kislev (a Jewish calendar month which falls usually around the middle of December). It is a Festival of Lights during which the Chanukiah (or nine branched candlestick) is lit, initially with one candle (lit from the additional central candle or shamash) with a further candle added on each successive night until all of the holders are in use.

Chanukah was developed late in Jewish history to celebrate the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and ‘rededication’ of the Temple in Jerusalem. Work is permitted during Chanukah. During the festival period, foods such as latkes and doughnuts (fried foods associated by extension with the myth of the miracle of the lights which is core to the festival) are eaten. The association of Chanukah with ‘oily foods’ arises as a result of the ‘miracle of the oil’ during which, we are told, the Maccabees having seized and rededicated the temple then found that there was only very limited amounts of sacred oil available to ensure the ner tamid (eternal light), continued burning as ritually required. The amount of oil which should have lasted for one day lasted miraculously, so the myth recounts, a full eight days until a new supply was procured. In addition to the eating of these seasonal foods; a game involving a spinning top or dreidel is played, and small gifts are given on each night.

Tu B’Shvat (Annual)

This much loved minor agricultural festival lasting for one day, typically occurs around late January (on the Jewish date of 15 Shevat). It is yet another ‘New Year’ in the Jewish calendar, of which there are several. On this occasion however it is a ‘New Year (or Birthday) of the Trees’ rather than a New Year for the World (such as is Rosh Hashanah), so named because it is during this time that the earliest blooming fruit trees in Israel begin to bud and commence a new cycle of fertility.

Tu B’Schvat is celebrated by eating fruits and nuts, particularly those mentioned in the Torah as growing in Israel, for example grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, almonds and dates. The texts associated with Tu B’Shvat  are those which connect people to nature such as “man is a tree of the field” (Deuteronomy 20:19). In the Progressive tradition a community Seder (‘order’ – see further under Pesach) is held, during which readings on ecological themes and poetry are interspersed with blessings, sung liturgy and the eating of the foods named above.


This festival is the second non-Torah based festival celebrated in the annual cycle (after Chanukah). Purim begins on 14 Adar (in the Jewish calendar) which typically falls in late February to mid March) and lasts for two days. Purim, (as with Chanukah) is the quasi-mythological commemoration of historical survival and resistance by a Jewish community, in this case people of the Diaspora, living in Persia.

It is marked in Synagogues by the reading of the Megillah (the scroll containing the Book of Esther), the story which tells of the Persian Jews deliverance from a genocidal plot instigated by the wicked Vizier Haman who was enraged at the fact that Mordechai the leader of the Persian Jews would not bow down before him. Survival of the community (resulting in part from the reminder, miraculously delivered to the King, of the fact that Mordechai once saved him from murder by discovering a plot to commit regicide which in turn leads to the King issuing a new decree which permits Jews to defend themselves against those sent to kill them) is as a result of the intervention of Queen Esther (a secret Jew) with her husband King Ahasuerus. Esther is able at great risk to her own life, to cunningly wheedle and beg Ahasuerus to amend the murderous decree; after being made aware of the genocidal intentions of Hamman by Mordechai who is her cousin, and in whose home she was raised before her enforced marriage to the King. The story ends with the tables being turned and Haman and his family and those who set out to kill the Jewish community being slaughtered themselves, whilst Mordechai is raised to the important role formerly occupied by Haman.

While the scroll (Megillah) is being read in synagogue, whenever Haman’s name is mentioned in the reading graggers (noisemakers – like football rattles) are whirled (particularly by children) and adults stamp their feet or shout to drown out his evil name.

On this festival food and drink are shared and there is a duty to give food and gifts to poorer members of the community or people in need to ‘share joy’

A Purim Spiel (a pantomime like retelling of the story of Esther; Ahasuerus; Mordechai and Haman) is often performed in synagogues or community centres. Purim is a carnivalesque, celebratory festival which turns the usual order of the Jewish world topsy-turvy, with congregants attending the Purim service and subsequent parties often wearing fancy-dress to mimic the characters in the Megillah. Cross-dressing (both Male to Female and Female to Male) which is traditionally forbidden in Torah, is permitted amongst even the Orthodox, and an expectation exists that even the most staid of people should drink wine until drunk at the festive gatherings on this day.

Purim is the subject of the third of our Ritual Reconstructed films (featuring an LGBTQI Purim Spiel) and also of the fourth film, which is a record of a discussion session after the Spiel was performed, during which, participants discuss the nature of ‘camp’, changing LGBT cultures and representations of Gay men since the 1980s, and how Purim contains transgressive gendered elements even in ‘traditional’ Jewish form.  Notes available elsewhere on this website explain how and why the Purim Spiel performed for this project links both LGBTQI and Jewish culture and thus creates a transgressive ritualist synergy.

Pesach (Annual)

The major festival of Pesach (or Passover) commemorates the Exodus from Egypt and delivery of the Jewish people from slavery. It is inextricably bound up in narratives of liberation and remembrance of (and solidarity with) the plight of people who are oppressed. In commemoration of the hasty departure from Egypt at the time of Exodus, which did not allow the Israelites time to prepare bread with risen dough; special dietary observances are kept pertaining to the forbidding of eating, or retaining in the home leavened products (chametz) such as bread, cereals, cake, pasta, beer or other items containing yeast, etc. These dietary restrictions last throughout the duration of this seven day (eight days in Orthodox communities) festival.

A Seder (meaning ‘order’) takes place as the central ritual of Pesach. During this ritual ceremonial event; in addition to core texts, prayers; psalms, readings and the asking of ‘four questions’ designed to teach children the symbolic meaning of Pesach; a prescribed meal is eaten communally, either within a congregational setting or with family and friends.

In many Progressive Jewish communities two Seders take place, the first night Seder within a Community setting and the Second night Seder with family and friends in private.

The Seder follows an ancient format comprising the eating of symbolic and ritual foods and wine which commemorate specific elements of the Passover/Exodus from Egypt narrative. Drinking and eating following specific blessings, must take place at particular moments within the Seder ritual. This is often interspersed with additional readings and study materials. The core narrative and unchanging prayers and blessings used within the Seder are contained with the Haggadah  (a word which means “telling”, a term which outlines the function of the book[3]) text; of which many varied and beautiful versions exist from ancient to modern times.

Modern Haggadah may have a particular theme which illustrates the core Exodus story. For example, illustrating the text through feminist reflections upon women’s experiences of liberation and equality; anti-slavery narratives from American History; the Holocaust; or using illustrations which are important to the identities of the community using the text; for example Black Jews or LGBTQI Jews[4].

A fundamental element of the Seder is a recalling of the horror of the ten plagues inflicted upon the Egyptians prior to the Israelites being permitted to leave the land of Egypt. Sorrow and pity is expressed for the suffering of the Egyptian people, most particularly, that caused by the “Death of the Firstborn” the final and most terrible plague.

In Progressive Jewish settings, in addition to the retelling of the Exodus story, other modern oppressions are recalled and discussed during the Seder. These study portions will focus on modern ‘plagues’ such as racism; bigotry; homophobia; genocide; slavery; the plight of refugees and asylum seekers; etc. to generate awareness of the call to social justice inherent in the Exodus narrative[5].

Pesach begins on the 15 Nisan (usually around March or April) and the Christian festival of Easter is usually closely aligned in time to Pesach, this is also set by the lunar calendar; albeit with Easter always occurring on the Sunday nearest to the Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox, whereas Pesach may commence on any day of the week. Both of these festivals (Pesach and Easter) are accordingly ‘moveable feasts’.

Many Jews from all communities do not work on the First day of Pesach and amongst Orthodox communities the final two days of Pesach may also involve refraining from work.

In ancient Israel, Pesach, together with Shavuot (‘Weeks’) and Sukkot (‘Booths’ or ‘Tabernacles’) was one of the three pilgrimage festivals requiring Jews to travel to the Temple in Jerusalem to participate in worship.

Yom HaShoah (Annual)

This date is the most recent event added to the Jewish ritual year. It falls on 27 Nisan (around mid-April to mid-May in the secular calendar). Yom HaShoah translates from Hebrew as Holocaust Remembrance Day and was inaugurated in Israel as a national day of remembrance in 1953. Throughout the world, most Jewish communities of varying denominations will hold memorial services on this day; although some very Orthodox communities prefer to commemorate the dead of the Holocaust on Tisha B’Av. Although there is no standardised form of service accepted by all denominations, the lighting of Yarzheit candles and reciting Kaddish will form part of all commemorations. Kaddish is a memorial prayer for the departed, said only by a blood relative in  Orthodox communities and in progressive schuls by all members of the congregation collectively.

 Shavuot (Annual)

This festival (celebrated for one day by Progressive Jews and two days within Orthodox communities) commences on 6 Sivan (the Jewish month which falls sometime between mid-May and mid-June in the secular calendar). It is a dual celebration associated both with the giving of the Torah (the Law) to Moses on Mount Sinai (seven weeks after the Exodus hence the alternative name of the festival: ‘Weeks’) and the spring wheat harvest in Israel. This festival is seen as fundamentally important in recalling a central tenet of the Jewish faith, as from the time the Torah was given, Israelites were seen to be a people committed to God.

During this festival, which is traditionally preceded by an all-night Torah study session (amongst Progressive Jewish communities such study often has a focus on social justice[6]) dairy foods (in particular cheese cake and cheese blintzes) are traditionally eaten. The Book of Ruth (Megillat Ruth) which takes place during the harvest season, is accordingly associated with Shavuot and read at this time; whilst homes and schuls are often decorated with greenery to emphasis the agricultural connections inherent in this festival.

Shavuot (‘Weeks’) was the third and final ‘pilgrimage festivals’ of the annual cycle; which in ancient times required Jews to travel to the Temple in Jerusalem to take part in services and ritual worship.

Events of LGBTQI-Jewish Significance – included in Ritual Reconstructed:
London Pride (Annual) June in the secular calendar

Pride celebrations occur throughout the world on various dates in the year, largely centred around the month of June, although in some countries distinct or variable dates have been selected to indicate national events related to LGBTQI equalities (for example Moscow Pride takes place in May to commemorate legislation which decriminalised gay male relationships in 1993).

On an international level, June was chosen for LGBT+ ‘Pride Month’ to commemorate the turning point in Gay civil liberties and opposing oppression which occurred with the Stonewall riots of June 1969. Many pride events around the world are therefore held during this month to recognize the transformatory impact LGBT people have had in the world.

London, (where the main Ritual Reconstructed events have taken place)  has held an annual Pride event since July 1972, a date initially selected to coincide with the nearest Saturday to the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. The date has varied slightly in more recent years as the event has expanded the number of days during which it occurs. Generally London Pride takes place in the last week of June. London Pride is one of the largest Pride events in Europe as well as being the oldest, and political rallies, music, entertainment and street parties all take place after the march which proceeds through Central London. In 2016 the dates of London Pride are 25th and 26th June.

See downloadable information linked to the film of the Pride Seder 2015 elsewhere on this website, to see how Pride has been given a specifically Jewish meaning and sensibility through the entwining of the profoundly important ritual activities associated with a Seder which is so central to Jewish narratives of liberation from oppression and social justice; whilst also incorporating themes and items indicative of LGBTQI history and experience.

Tisha B’Av (Annual)

Tisha B’Av occurs on the Jewish date, of 9 Av (between mid-July and mid-August in the secular calendar) and is a day of mourning to commemorate tragedies which have befallen Jews over many centuries.

In Orthodox communities, a one day (25 hour) mourning fast (a ‘black fast’) is held on this date. Tisha B’Av is held to be a day of mourning as it occurs on the anniversary of the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem 655 years apart in time, and was coincidentally the date of the edict of expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290; as well, in 1941, as being the date on which Himmler gained formal approval for commencing the ‘final solution’ which began the genocide in Nazi-controlled Europe. In addition, a number of other tragedies are believed to have occurred on or very close to this date throughout Jewish history, for example the massacres of thousands of Jews in the Rhineland perpetrated by Crusaders on their way to Jerusalem in 1096; and the expulsion of Jews from Spain on a date which coincided with 7 Av in 1492.  Thus Tisha B’Av is an occasion on which one symbolically commemorates and mourns those killed as a result of such violent episodes. The Book of Lamentations is read in synagogues on Tisha B’Av and mourning songs are sung.

Tisha B’Av which is often the subject of study sessions and associated brief commemoration services in Progressive Jewish communities is held not only in remembrance of community tragedies, but also in the belief that hope, courage and compassion, as well as adherence to Jewish tenets of faith exist even in times of deepest sorrow and persecution.

For many Progressive Jews, Tisha B’Av is not seen as core to the annual ritual cycle, and indeed the Fast will often be omitted by those who do not follow Orthodox traditions, even if they attend a service of remembrance.

 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Following the joyful festival of Shavuot and commemorative fast of Tisha B’av there are no other major events in the Jewish calendar until the service called Selichot (a particular service which takes its name from the specific prayers which are said first on this date (calculated backwards from Rosh Hashanah) until the end of the High Holy Days).

Selichot are penitential prayers following the form of piyyutim, (liturgical poems, designated to be sung, chanted, or recited during religious services). Selichot as a specific form of piyyutim used only during this season of the year are traditionally sung between midnight and dawn (or in some traditions during early morning services), throughout the reflective period which occurs in advance of the High Holy Days. Selichot also form a core part of the High Holy Days liturgy.

In European (Ashkenazic) tradition, the Selichot service takes place on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah, commencing with an (always very well attended) late night service during which the beautiful Selichot piyyutim are sung for the first time in the year.

In the Sephardic tradition Selichot (as a service) commences on Elul 2 (earlier than in the Ashkenazic tradition). In both traditions, once the Selichot service has taken place, these piyyuyim form part of the nightly liturgy until Rosh Hashanah occurs (see above) and the ritual year recommences once more.

 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 Life-Cycle Rituals omitted from this paper.

In this introduction to the annual cycle we do not deal with other critical elements of the Jewish life-cycle such as Birth (including the Brit Milah or ‘covenant of circumcision’ for male babies), Bar or Bat Mitzvah (when a young man or woman enters into the ‘commandment of the law’ at the age of 12 and 13 respectively) Marriage; Death or Conversion to Judaism. How these events can be made more meaningfully relevant and inclusive for LGBTQI members of Jewish communities, and the scope to develop innovative rituals associated with these traditional key life-events, have the potential to explored in future publications or follow-up projects subject to both funding and agreement with the communities involved.


Margaret Greenfields[7]

[1] Meaning that months are based on the lunar cycle, whilst years are based on the solar year. A Jewish calendar year can have a length of between 353-355 days, while a leap calendar year can vary between 383-385 days.

[2] The notion of responsibility and atonement is linked too, to the concept of collective responsibility of the people of Israel (Jews), as within the High Holy Days liturgical practice in addition to reflection on personal action and an expectation that atonement should be made, Jews ‘confess’ errors and practices using collective language, to indicate how a people and community are bound together and that when bad behaviour or actions which cause pain occur, others may be witnesses, and may often have the power (and duty) to intervene to mitigate harm. 

[3] The plural form of Haggadah is Haggadot

[4] See for example The ‘bibliography’ of contemporary Haggadot by Carla Cohen available at: (accessed 1/2/16); The Religious Action Centre of Reform Judaism (1985) Black-Jewish ‘Common road to Freedom’ Haggadah Washington DC: RAC, available at:

(accessed 3/2/16) or Wiess, M (2013) Queering your Seder available at: (accessed 3/2/16)

[5] Murane, B. (2015) 2015’s Top Ten Social Justice Haggadahs & Supplements available at : (accessed 3/2/16)

[6] See for example information about Liberal Judaism’s Shavuot Social Action pack : (accessed 1/2/16)

[7] With many thanks Bella Segal for reading the draft notes and commenting/adding information on differential practice within Orthodox Jewish Communities