Canada welcomes diverse newcomers of varied faiths and backgrounds. All Canadians, regardless of immigration status, enjoy freedom of thought, belief, and expression.
From 1980 to 2021, over 91,000 immigrants in Canada identified as Jewish, hailing from countries like Israel, the United States, Ukraine, Russia, and Morocco.
Over 98% of Canadian Jews reside in five provinces: Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Alberta. Nearly half of Canada’s Jewish population calls Toronto home, with Montreal hosting nearly a quarter.
September is a packed month for the Jewish community as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot celebrations take center stage.
The Jewish New Year commences this year at sundown on September 15th, lasting two days. It is a gathering time for families to share meals and meaningful moments.
Traditionally, this occasion prompts individuals to reunite with loved ones and reflect on the past year. In Canada, many Jewish people seek forgiveness from friends and family as they prepare to embrace the New Year’s fresh start.
Rosh Hashanah customs often include consuming symbolic foods such as challah bread, pomegranates, and apples dipped in honey, all representing the desire for sweetness and good health in the coming year.
Following Rosh Hashanah, the conclusion of the New Year period is marked by Yom Kippur, known as the Day of Atonement. This year, the holiday commences at sunset on September 24th and concludes the following evening. Yom Kippur holds a special place as the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.
Yom Kippur entails a solemn observance that includes fasting and intensive prayer, as believers hold that those who seek repentance for their sins will receive blessings for a joyful New Year. The fasting period spans 25 hours. Many Jewish Canadians participate in dedicated Yom Kippur services incorporating songs and readings. The holiday culminates joyfully as many Jewish individuals join in the “breaking of the fast,” a celebratory potluck meal after the fasting period ends.
Sukkot, a festive Jewish holiday, is observed four days after Yom Kippur and celebrates the bountiful harvest. This joyous occasion spans seven days.
The term “Sukkot” is derived from the Hebrew word for a temporary hut or booth called a sukkah, and it is constructed specifically for this holiday. Families and friends come together to build and adorn the sukkah. In the sukkah, people conduct most activities that usually take place within a home. Such as dining and prayer, throughout the week-long celebration.
Another significant element of Sukkot is the ritual of waving the four species, which consists of holding an etrog (citron) in one hand alongside a slender bundle of plants comprising the lulav (palm branches), hadasim (myrtle branches), and aravot (willow branches). This act symbolizes Jewish unity.
The Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot hold great significance in Canada’s Jewish community and worldwide. These occasions mark the beginning of the Jewish New Year and offer moments for reflection, atonement, and celebration. From seeking forgiveness and renewal on Yom Kippur to coming together with family and friends to enjoy symbolic foods in the sukkah during Sukkot, these holidays embody the rich traditions, values, and unity of the Jewish people.