Sacks, Rabbi Jonathan. “Ceremony & Celebration: Introduction to the Holidays”, Maggid, 2017.
The Central Jewish Holidays
“Ceremony & Celebration: Introduction to the Holidays” is collection of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s introductions to the Koren-Sacks Mahzorim in which he reveals the stunningly “rich interplay of the biblical laws, rabbinic ordinances, liturgical themes, communal rituals and profound religious meaning of each of the five central Jewish holidays”.
Rabbi Sacks is one of the important voices of Judaism today and he is an international religious leader, philosopher, award-winning author and respected moral voice. The holidays include here are Rosh Hashanah (“The Anniversary of Creation”), Yom Kippur” (“Seeking Forgiveness”), Sukkot (“Season of Joy”), Pesah (“Finding Freedom”) and Shavuot (“The Greatest Gift”). Not only do we get detailed descriptions of the holidays and the traditions that go along with them but little secrets that we might never have uncovered alone. Each chapter is divided into subheadings and we are given all the information that Rabbi Sacks has been able to share and there is plenty.
For example, the chapter on Yom Kippur is broken down into these subchapters:
A Brief History of Forgiveness
The Idea of Freedom
Before God Forgives, Man Must Forgive
Two Types of Atonement
The Aftermath of Sinai: Penitential Prayer
The Second Yom Kippur
Priests and Atonement
Prophets and Repentance, and so on. My purpose in listing these topics is to show just how thorough this book is. I have studied Judaism for a long time and only recently did I discover Rabbi Sacks’ writings. They are so clear and illuminate so much that it is always a pleasure to turn to him when necessary. While the answer may not be there, he provides steps to reach an answer and I love that since it gives a part in the process.