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Holidays at Magen David are always a special time, as our synagogue fills with members, guests and the spirit of celebration or commemoration. Some of our customs and traditions are described below for the major Jewish holidays that take place during the year.

Rosh Hashana 

The two-day festival of Rosh Hashana is observed on the first and second days of Tishrei. The Jewish New Year marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a period of introspection. The shofar is sounded on both days (unless the first day falls of Shabbat, in which case we only sound the shofar on the second day). At MDSC we gather in great anticipation to hear the sound of the shofar. At home we dip apples into honey, enjoy a celebratory meal, and wish one another a sweet new year.

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Yom Kippur 

On this holiest of all days in the Jewish calendar, we ask forgiveness for the mistakes of the past year. We pledge to improve our behaviors and to increase our devotion to the lessons of Torah and to the welfare of our fellow human beings. Prior to the Holiday, Selichot prayers are said in the early morning hours. Ashkenazi Jews’ Selichot takes place from the Sunday before Rosh Hashana until Yom Kippur. Sephardic Selichot at MDSC begins earlier, on the second day of Elul, and lasts for the nearly three weeks leading to Yom Kippur.


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The marriage of “brains and brawn” results in the construction of our beautiful Sukkah on the eve of Sukkot (Tishrei 15-21). Following Shabbat services during the holiday period, the congregation gathers inside the structure for the kiddush and hamotzi blessings. MDSC member customarily invite members and friends to share a meal I the sukkah often decorated with children’s drawings, Israeli flags, and symbols. Sukkot is a happy time- it’s also called Simchateinu, the Season of our Joy.

Simchat Torah 

MDSC is extremely proud of its Torah scrolls, beautifully encased in decorative cylinders according to the Sephardic custom. On Simchat Torah (“rejoicing in the Torah”) we mark the conclusion of the year’s Torah reading cycle, and the beginning of a new annual cycle. The last words of Torah are read by a member being honored as Chatan Torah; the first portion of the new cycle is read by the Chatan Bereshit. The service is followed by a festive Kiddush and joyous dancing with the Torah scrolls.


On this holiday we celebrate the Maccabees’ defeat of their Syrian overlords. Only one day’s worth of sealed and protected oil was left for the Temple Menorah, but its lights continued to burn for the eight days it took a new supply could arrive. Our Sephardic Roots Talmud Torah students usher in the holiday by lighting the MDSC Hanukkah after which they enjoy delicious sufganiyot (Israeli jelly donuts) prepared especially for the occasion. The annual Hanukkah Evening, a party for adult members and friends, features a DJ, food and dancing.

Tu B’Shevat

The 15th of Shevat (mid-February) marks the New Year of the Trees. The earliest-blooming trees in Israel are emerging from their winter sleep and beginning a new fruit-bearing cycle. At MDSC, we mark the holiday with a festive Tu B’shevat Seder during which we eat of the seven species which the Torah praises: figs, dates, pomegranates, olives, grapes, wheat and barley, and nuts (being Sephardic, we especially favor pistachios!)


The jolly festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (February or March). It commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.” MDSC kids- and their parents and grandparents- go all out with costumes for the reading of the Megillah (Book of Esther), and both grown-ups and children enjoy their own spirited parties.


Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the month of Nissan. It commemorates the Israelites’ emancipation from slavery in Egypt. Through the rituals of Passover, including especially the Seder, we relive the Exodus and experience the true freedom that our ancestors gained. Passover is traditionally celebrated at home, though arrangements are made for some members to gather for the second Seder in our Sriqui-Haim Social Hall.

Lag B’Omer 

The Counting of the Omer is a link between Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, and Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah. It reminds us that the redemption from slavery was not truly complete until we received the Torah.  On Lag B’Omer, MDSC members and friends look forward to the synagogue’s Hillulah where we commemorate the passing of the great sage and mystic, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and other tzaddikim of our traditions.



Shavuot, which literally means "weeks," celebrates the completion of the seven-week Omer counting period between Passover and Shavuot. The holiday celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and thus is frequently called Chag Matan Torateinu, the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah. At MDSC, it is customary to stay up late (or even all night) studying Torah on the first night of Shavuot.

Modern Secular Holidays

Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day), Yom HaZikaron (Israel Memorial Day), Yom HaAtzma’ut (Israel Independence Day), and Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), are days in which we feel a profound sense of connection to the land and people of Israel, especially the many Israeli-born members of our congregation.  We observe these holidays at MDSC and at commemorations in Jewish community venues in Montgomery County and Washington, DC.

Wed, August 10 2022 13 Av 5782