Jewish Holiday Poems

Jewish Holiday Poems

Poems about Jewish Holidays

Since the diaspora, coming together at holidays and celebrating Jewish heritage and culture is an important part of a Jew's religious identity and experience. Lighting candles at Hanukah, breaking glasses at weddings to remember the destruction of the Temple, sharing a Seder meal to commemorate the Passover, are all traditions to remember ties to the past and to each other. These rituals tie everyone together in culture, tradition and religion. Sharing in the holidays is a remembrance of millennia of history and customs. They bring the past into the present and Jews from around the world together in one purpose

7 Jewish Holiday Poems

  1. 1. The Feast Of Freedom

    Passover (or Pesach as it's called in Hebrew) is the Festival of Freedom, a Jewish Holiday commemorating the liberation of the ancient Israelites from Slavery in Egypt.
    Passover is celebrated in the springtime. The poet uses the different seasons as metaphors to time periods in the history of the Jewish people. Winter is slavery and exile when Israel and the Jewish people are ruled by others. Spring, the revival of freedom. Summer, the time when Israel ruled itself with the temple in Jerusalem.

    I REMEMBER in my childhood
    From my grandfather I heard
    Charming tales of gone-by ages
    That my soul so deeply stirred.

    Charming tales of ancient sages
    That I felt I knew were true;
    Stories of the hoary ages
    That remain forever new.

    Of the Pesach-days he told me,
    Days that joy and sunshine bring;
    Of the Festival of Freedom,
    Of Revival and of Spring.

    Of the slave-people in Egypt,
    Whose hot blood so rashly spilled,
    Soaked into cold bricks and mortar
    Of the fortresses they built.

    How on them, the God-forsaken,
    After gloomy wintry days,
    Shone at last the rays of freedom,
    Heaven's bright and cheerful rays.

    How among them rose a leader,
    Star-like in a gloomy night,
    And he pleaded for their freedom,
    And he crushed a tyrant's might.

    How he taught the fettered people
    Not in vain their blood to spill,
    Turning bondmen into freemen,
    Men of honor and of will.

    How the people's march to Freedom
    Could no despot's might restrain,
    Till before their will resistless
    Stormy ocean oped in twain.

    "Then it was our people's springtime,
    After which a summer came,
    Followed by a golden harvest,
    Free from yoke and free from shame."

    "Grand-sire, dear," I asked enraptured,
    "How long did that summer last?"
    But he sadly gazed and pondered,
    And he answered me at last.

    "Child, it was a long, bright summer,
    But a winter came again,
    Came with cold and snow and showers,
    With its gales of grief and pain.

    "Frost and tempest-strife, contention--
    Raged once more in every part,
    Stealing into souls and freezing
    Will and hope in every heart.

    "Furious storm once more dispersed us;
    Israel rendered free and great,
    Into lands of cruel despots
    Went to face a bondman's fate."

    "Grand-sire, dear, why does this winter
    Seem so endless, then?"--I sighed--
    And two crystal tears were trembling
    In his eyes when he replied.

    "Yes, my boy, it seems so endless,
    But it cannot, will not be;
    Israel will not slave forever,
    One day, child, he will be free.

    In his soul will re-awaken
    Courage, will, and pride, and might;
    Freedom's sunrise must needs follow
    Israel's starless exile night.

    "But till then, ere spring's arrival--
    For the winter's steps are slow--
    Pesach is a sweet remembrance
    Of a spring of long ago."

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  3. 2. The Eternal Riddle

    The poem by Philip Max Raskin was published as part of the book, "Songs of a Jew" in 1914 in London. It celebrates the resiliency of the Jewish People who throughout their History have been persecuted and yet they have persevered. The eternal riddle is how have they survived so long, while their foes, much stronger than them, are relegated to the page of the history books.

    Israel, my people,
    God's greatest riddle,
    Will thy solution
    Ever be told

    Fought - never conquered,
    Bent - never broken,
    Mortal - immortal,
    Youthful, though old.

    Egypt enslaved thee,
    Babylon crushed thee,
    Rome led thee captive,
    Homeless thy head.

    Where are those nations
    Mighty and fearsome
    Thou hast survived them,
    They are long dead.

    Nations keep coming,
    Nations keep going,
    Passing like shadows,
    Wiped off the earth.

    Thou an eternal
    Witness remainest,
    Watching their burial,
    Watching their birth.

    Pray, who revealed thee
    Heaven's great secret :
    Death and destruction,
    Thus to defy

    Suffering torture,
    Stake, inquisition -
    Prithee, who taught thee
    Never to die

    Ay, and who gave thee
    Faith, deep as ocean,
    Strong as the rock-hills,
    Fierce as the sun

    Hated and hunted,
    Ever thou wand'rest,
    Bearing a message :
    God is but one !

    Pray, has thy saga
    Likewise an ending,
    As its beginning
    Glorious of old

    Israel, my people,
    God's greatest riddle,
    Will thy solution
    Ever be told

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  5. 3. Chanukah Lights

    From The Standard Book of Jewish Verse published in 1917. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah (or Chanukah), is also known as the festival of lights because of the candles which are lit in a Menorah, an 8 branch candelabra. Hanukkah lasts 8 days and on each day another candle is added to the total.
    As told in the poem, the holiday commemorates the 2nd century BCE rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem (part of Judea, another name for Israel) after the successful Maccabean Revolt. The Maccabees were the leaders of a Jewish rebel army, led by Judas, who took back control of Judea from the Syrian Greeks.

    I KINDLED my eight little candles,
    My Chanukah-candles--and lo!
    Fair visions and dreams half-forgotten
    To me came of years long ago.

    I musingly gazed at my candles;
    Meseemed in their quivering flames
    In golden, in fiery letters
    I read the old glorious names,

    The names of our heroes immortal,
    The noble, the brave, and the true,
    A battle-field saw I in vision
    Where many were conquered by few.

    Where trampled in dust lay the mighty,
    Judea's proud Syrian foe;
    And Judas, the brave Maccabaeus,
    In front of his army I saw.

    His eyes shone like bright stars of heaven,
    Like music rang out his strong voice:
    "Brave comrades, we fought and we conquered,
    Now let us, in God's name, rejoice!"

    "We conquered--but know, O brave comrades,
    No triumph is due to the sword!
    Remember our glorious watchword,
    'For People and Towns of the Lord!'"

    He spoke, and from all the four corners
    An echo repeated each word;
    The woods and the mountains re-echoed:
    "For People and Towns of the Lord!"

    And swiftly the message spread, saying:
    "Judea, Judea is free,
    Re-kindled the lamp in the Temple,
    Re-kindled each bosom with glee!"

    My Chanukah-candles soon flickered,
    Around me was darkness of night;
    But deep in my soul I felt shining
    A heavenly-glorious light.

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  6. 4. Chanukah

    • By Lily Fenster
    •  Published by Family Friend Poems February 2014

    Hi. My name is Lily. My family is Jewish. Each year I light the Shamash and me and my little sis take turns lighting each of the 8 candles, setup from right to left, like Hebrew words go. I HATE Passover (disgusting food, boring games, and the youngest person in the family who can read has to do just that from that awful book!), but I LOVE Chanukah. Have a happy Chanukah!

    Poem About The Joy Of Chanukah

    Playing Dreidel with the family
    Presents each of 8 days
    Yummy sizzling latkes
    Light the Menorah
    Have a happy Chanukah

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  7. 5. Passover

    Passover is a Jewish holiday, usually in April. We eat different things to symbolize different things: the matzo and parsley in salt water already explained in the poem; a cinnamon, nut, and apple mix to represent the mortar used in the brick wall the Jews built to protect themselves from Pharaoh, the evil ruler they were being controlled by; horseradish to symbolize the harsh treatment by him; and a hard-boiled egg, which represents a continuous New Year. There is also a bone on the plate, which represents the sacrificial lamb. We hold a prayer dinner called a seder, which explains these things among other traditions, too many to list here. Thanks for your interest.

    Poem About Passover

    At Passover, it's matzo mother is making
    Because years ago while the bread was baking
    Pharaoh came and chased the Jews away
    On this somber holiday
    Parsley in salt water is eaten to remember the tears
    The Jews felt all those years.
    But there's still a bit of joy,
    Because despite everything
    There's comfort in knowing
    God has provided us with another Spring!

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  8. 6. Demons In Disguise

    • By Kaylee Kowch
    •  Published by Family Friend Poems June 2013

    I wrote this poem about the Holocaust because I find it so heartbreaking to learn about what these innocent people went through because of simply who they were. They didn't deserve to die for being born a certain religion. I felt their pain so vividly I decided to put it into words, and I dedicate this poem to all the victims of the Holocaust.

    Poem To Victims Of The Holocaust

    There was peace among the streets
    Children playing in the warm summer heat

    Husbands greeting wives with a genuine smile
    Siblings chasing after one another for miles

    But then they arrived
    The demons in disguise

    Kidnapping those who wore the Jewish star
    Packing hundreds of them in one tiny car

    Creating chaos in every direction
    Killing the love and affection

    For many months the car rode
    Filled with hundreds of pleading souls for a load

    Finally the car stopped and the hostages held their breath
    The doors opened and beheld the place of death

    The people weak and ignorant
    Tired and impatient

    The demons who wear the symbol of evil
    Guide the innocent souls to die in the hands of the devil

    Belongings thrown carelessly onto the street
    Stripped of their clothing and were beat

    Numbers scarred their arms
    Identifying them like animals on a farm

    Forced to cut their hair
    And sent to work in hot, sticky air

    Punishment was death
    To those who dared to rest

    And killed,

    Was punishment for being different

    And killed,

    Was the consequence for being a different religion

    Few people have survived
    To tell the horrors of their lives

    Numbers permanently scarring their lives
    Slicing into their past like sharp knives

    No one can understand the dreadful pain
    They went through in those many days

    But what we can make sure to do
    Is never let this dreadful pain redo

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  9. 7. Passover

    • By M. Kass
    •  Published by Family Friend Poems March 2010

    The Jewish holiday of Passover, which celebrates God taking the Hebrews out of bondage in Egypt, is celebrated in the spring. Jews don't eat leavened bread for the week long holiday of Passover. Leaven, which is what makes the bread rise, is replaced with "Matzo," which is a flat, cracker like food, for the week long duration of the holiday. Removing the leaven from one's house is compared on a spiritual level to removing puffed up forms of pride from one's heart.

    Poem About Pesach

    Holiday of new
    New Nation
    New buds coming out - flowers and leaves
    The world mirrors its newness in trees

    I, too, can be new
    Get rid of the leaven
    That puffs up my soul
    Jewish nation has a new role

    Humanity takes a new turn
    Leave slavery behind
    Let each man go free
    New faith, love and liberty

    Don't be stuck in a rut
    Renew, change and grow
    Each person can soar to the sky
    Freedom awaits--all that's left is to try

    Eight days we eat Matzo
    Remove our shackles each year
    Passover, holiday of newness in spring
    Joy of freedom--each year--hear the ring!

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