Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Can You Name All Seven Jewish Holy Days?


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

Since we are in the midst of Hanukkah, I thought it would be a great time to feature some Jewish words and terms on Editing for Grammarphobes today. 


According to the Associated Press Stylebook 2016 (AP), "Jews believe the divine kingdom will be established on Earth, opening a messianic era that will be marked with peace and bliss. They believe they have a mandate from God to work toward the kingdom.”

The spiritual leader of the synagogue (house of worship) is called a rabbi. The cantor leads the congregation in song. AP states these titles should be capitalized before an individual’s full name on first reference. On second reference, use only the last name.

There are no synods, assemblies, or hierarchies in Judaism. Each individual synagogue is autonomous. 

There are, however, three different sections of Judaism in North America.

Orthodox Judaism is “an umbrella organization for centrist congregations whose rabbis are part of the Rabbinical Council of America,” AP states.

Reform Judaism’s congregation is represented by the Union for Reform Judaism and it’s clergy by the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

Conservative Judaism has their congregation represented by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the clergy by the Rabbinical Assembly.


Hanukkah: AP prefers the Hanukkah spelling over the Chanukah you will sometimes see. Not sure exactly why. There is no explanation given. Hanukkah is the eight-day Festival of Lights, which commemorates the rededication of the temple by Maccabees after the Jewish people’s victory over the Syrians. It usually falls in December, but sometimes it can occur in late November.

Passover: A Jewish high holy day, Passover is a weeklong commemoration of the deliverance of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. Seder is the Passover meal. It falls in March or April.

Purim: Purim, or the Jewish Feast of Lots, commemorates Esther’s deliverance of the Jews in Persia from the massacre plotted by Haman. It occurs in February or March.

Rosh Hashana: The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana falls in September or October.

Shavuot: This Jewish Feast of Weeks commemorates receiving the Ten Commandments. It occurs in May or June.

Sukkkot: Sukkot is the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles. It celebrates the fall harvest and commemorates the Jews wandering through the desert during the Exodus. It falls in September or October.

Yom Kippur: The second Jewish high holy day, Yom Kippur is the Jewish Day of Atonement. It occurs in September or October. 

All holidays start at sunset the day before the day marked on most calendars, according to AP.

Here are some more Jewish words to know.

Bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah

The Jewish rite of passage for boys and girls who are thirteen. It marks the age of religious maturity. For boys, it’s bar mitzvah. For girls, a bat mitzvah is celebrated.


Generally, anyone not Jewish is called a Gentile, particularly a Christian. Interestingly enough, Mormons also use the term. To Mormons, a gentile is anyone who is not Mormon, period.


A menorah is the seven-branch candelabrum from the ancient temple in Jerusalem. It also can refer to the nine-branch candelabrum used at Hanukkah.

On a side note, did you know candelabrum is the true singular and candelabra is the plural? It’s becoming more common to just see candelabra, but it actually should be candelabrum. See? You never know what you’ll find on Editing for Grammarphobes. 


The Sabbath is a day set aside for rest and worship.


The Talmud is a collection of writings that constitute Jewish civil and religious law.


Named after Mount Zion, the site of the ancient temple in Jerusalem, Zionism is the movement of the Jewish people to regain and retain their biblical homeland.

A very Happy Hanukkah to all of my Jewish friends!

Join me next week as Editing for Grammarphobes explores Christmas words.

EFG Digest
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The Associated Press Stylebook 2016


A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied experience includes such topics as grammar, blog content, book reviews, corporate communications, the arts, paint and coatings, real estate, the fire service, writing and literature, research, and publishing. An award-winning journalist, her work has appeared in several magazines, newspapers, and blogs, including the Chicago Tribune, Writer Unboxed, Women's Fiction Writers, Naperville Magazine, and Fresh Fiction. She also is the author of three contemporary women's fiction novels and is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association. For more information on Karen, please visit www.karenberner.com.


Anonymous said…
Wow, that's a lot of interesting information in one post! I didn't know all of them.
Thanks, angel011. I’m glad I could help.
pdfender said…
You forgot to mention the branch of Judaism I practice. It's very progressive. You may find this link interesting.
Thanks. I’ll check it out.

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