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Religious Observances

Upcoming Religious Observances

Cultivate Your Resilience These High Holidays with Hillel@Stanford

The theme of High Holidays with Hillel this year is resilience. Over the course of the holidays, we sing, pray, and plead, "Hashiveinu" - bring us back, and this year it can feel like we especially mean it.

We're here to help you celebrate, reflect, and grow with wonderful offerings:

Resilience Boxes: A Resilience Box will help you transform the room in which you make your normal video calls into a beautiful, elevated, Jewish space that prepares you for the reflection and growth of the holidays. The box will lead you through a series of engaging activities and resources that will build your resilience, pique your curiosity, and help you explore Jewish traditions around the high holidays. Boxes are available to all students. A modified version is available to the first 180 non-students who request them.

Community Deep Dives: On Yom Kippur, the medieval prayer Unetaneh Tokef is grounded in the repetition of the verse: “u’t’shuvah (repentance), u’t’filah (prayer), u’tzedakah (righteous acts of giving/justice) avert the severe decree.” Over the month of Tishrei, we will explore together each of these themes with Stanford community teachers. What is the connection between self-reflection, t'shuvah, and resilience? How do I make sense of the High Holiday liturgy and t'filah? What are the ethical considerations for giving tzedakah? These hour long interactive webinars are free and open to all.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur streaming services and videos: We will welcome you to the holidays with Hillel via two videos created by Hillel at Stanford and the Stanford Office for Religious Life. The videos will arrive in your inbox one or two days ahead of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. You will see familiar faces-- our Stanford rabbis, Hillel staff, musicians, and student leaders-- as we proclaim the new year, sound the shofar, and hit the low and high notes of Yom Kippur together from iconic campus locations.

For a more "full service" experience, we will organize watch parties so we can pray together as a community on the holidays even when we're not physically together. These services are being produced in partnership with Hillel International and Reboot and will be available to watch coast-to-coast. Information about all these offerings are available during Hillel@Stanford registration.

We also have cool opportunities planned to help delve into the themes of the holidays in creative and unusual ways, which we are calling “Unbound.” Think about the holidays reimagined through two immersive days of music, learning, comedy and conversation - all presented by some of the greatest thinkers, artists, authors and musicians of today. "Unbound" is designed in partnership with Hillel International and Reboot, the folks who brought us all Saturday Night Seder last spring.

Register for High Holidays with Hillel Here

Currently religious in person gatherings are restricted on campus. Students who cannot fulfill their religious obligations either individually or online can apply for an exemption through Cardinal Recovery. To read the full policy, click here.

Religious observance

• Exemptions for in-person religious services may be made for religious obligations that cannot be fulfilled either individually or online.

• Requires prior registration, review, and explicit approval from EH&S and Office for Religious & Spiritual Life via Cardinal Recovery.

• Must follow all applicable regulations including capacity limitations (no more than 60 people), specific face covering and social distancing requirements, and have a designated host that is responsible for ensuring compliance with all requirements and maintaining a list of all attendees.

• Indoor religious services are not permitted. Office for Religious Life and their partners offer virtual services for our diverse communities of faith.

Religious Observances @ Stanford

For a comprehensive calendar of observances, please click here.

If you'd like add the religious observances calendar to your Office365 WebCal, please scroll to the bottom of this webpage for instructions.

Stanford has long supported faculty, students and staff in observing religious holidays of significance to them. In the complex process of creating the academic calendar, religious holy days are but one of many considerations. The university administration has always been helpful in facilitating communication and encouraging respect and understanding when there are academic calendar conflicts with religious holy days. Most instructors will be cooperative and flexible regarding students’ religious observance when they receive appropriate and early communication. If a student is planning NOT to attend class or take an exam because of a religious holiday, he or she should convey this information to instructors in advance so that the student will not be disadvantaged as a result of religious practice. The Office for Religious Life makes available to faculty, staff and students this list of significant religious holidays at the beginning of each academic year. For any questions or concerns, please contact the Office for Religious Life.

1) Log in to your web calendar at

2) On the left side of the screen, click on the “Add Calendar” link

3) A window will pop up. On the left-hand side menu, click on “Add from Directory”

4) You will be prompted to enter the calendar name. Type in “ORL CAL Religious Holidays” and select it from the drop-down menu

5) The ORL CAL Religious Holidays calendar will now appear under your Other Calendars list for viewing

Please note:

    Jewish holidays begin at sundown on the day before the date listed.

    Local or regional customs may use a variation of dates from the information posted above

August 2020-June 2021

August 2020

20 The First of Muḥarram Islam - The First of Muḥarram (first month of the Islamic year 1442 AH) celebrates the Ḥijra (migration) of Muḥammad and his followers in 622 CE, from Mecca to Medina, where they established the first Islamic community.

29 Ashura Islam - For Shi’ite Muslims ’Āshūrā’, which they call Muḥarram, has special importance as it commemorates the martyrdom of Ḥusain, Prophet Muḥammad’s grandson, in AH 61 (680 CE).

September 2020

18 Erev Rosh Hashanah Jewish - Eve of Rosh Hashanah

19-20 Rosh Hashanah Jewish - New Year’s Day, year 5781, and anniversary of the creation of the world. The first of the Ten Days of Awe (or Repentance).

29 Michaelmas Christian - Feast of St. Michael and all Angels

27 Kol Nidre Jewish - Eve of Yom Kippur

28 Yom Kippur Jewish - The Day of Atonement is the year's holiest day and a day of fasting. To re-establish oneness with God, Jews ask forgiveness and forgive others. Then can they confess their sins and ask God's forgiveness.

October 2020

2 Erev Sukkot Jewish - Eve of Sukkot

3-9 Sukkot Jewish - A pilgrimage feast and a time of thanksgiving, it celebrates God's presence in creation and among the Jewish people.

9 Erev Shemini Atzeret Jewish - Eve of Shemini Atzeret

10 Shemini Atzeret Jewish - Shemini Atzeret (the Eighth Day of Assembly) is a separate holiday concluding Sukkot and the entire fall holiday season. It marks the beginning of winter in the land of Israel.

11 Simchat Torah Jewish - Simḥat Torah (Rejoicing of the Law) is the beginning of the synagogue's annual Torah reading cycle.

18 Birth of Báb Bahá’í - The birth anniversary of The Báb (Herald of the new age for Bahá’ís)

19 Birth of Baha’u’llah Bahá’í - The anniversary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh the founder of the Bahá’í faith.

28 Mawlid al Nabi Islam - The anniversary of the birth of Prophet Muḥammad. Some Muslims mark this occasion by fasting or with parades, special prayers or conferences. Other Muslims may mark the occasion by dedicating more time to read the Qur‘an.

31 Samhain Pagan - This day celebrates the Celtic New Year. The dying God returns to the womb of the Goddess in preparation for rebirth at Yule. The souls of those who have died during the turning of the past year’s wheel are bid farewell. It also marks the third and final harvest. Vegan Wiccans harvest nuts, the kernels of which are symbols of wisdom. As the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds is thinnest at this time, ancestors can join the celebrations.

November 2020

1 All Saints Day Christian - A day to honour Christian saints throughout the ages.

2 All Souls Day Christian - A day set aside for honoring the dead.

14 Diwali Hindu, Jain, Sikh - The Festival of Lights, Diwali (Deepavali) is dedicated to the Goddesses Kali in Bengal and Lakshmi (the Goddess of Wealth) in the rest of India. Diwali is associated with a story about the destruction of evil by Lord Vishnu in one of his many manifestations.

29 Advent (begins) Christian - Advent is the period of preparation for Christmas. The three faith-filled people who help Christians in their journey through Advent are the Prophet Isaiah who foretold the coming of the Messiah; John the Baptist who was his immediate forerunner; and, Mary the Mother of Jesus who carried the Savior of the world and expectantly awaited his birth.

30 Birthday of Guru Nanak Sikh - Founder of the Sikh faith and first of the Ten Gurus, Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born in 1469 CE. He was an accomplished poet; 974 of his hymns are contained in the Sikh Scriptures, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

December 2020

8 Bodhi Day Buddhist - Anniversary of the historical Buddha’s awakening.

10 Eve of Hanukkah Jewish

11-18 Hanukkah Jewish - The Festival of Lights (and the Feast of Dedication), commemorates the victory of Judah the Maccabee and religious freedom, and the re-dedication of the Temple in 165 BCE. It also celebrates the power of God and the faithfulness of Israel.

12 Our Lady of Guadalupe Christian - Feast day celebrates the Virgin Mary – who is the Patron saint of Mexico – and commemorates her appearing to a man in Mexico City twice in 1531.

24 Christmas Eve Christian (Western)

25 Christmas Christian (Western) - Celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Jesus.

26-January 1 Kwanzaa Pan-African - Celebrated by many North Americans of West African descent in recognition of their African heritage. The candles of a seven-branched candelabrum representing attributes such as unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith, are successively lit over the seven days of the festival.

January 2021

5 Guru Gobind Singh's Birthday Sikh - Festival that commemorates the birthday of the tenth Guru of the Sikhs. It is a celebration in which prayers for prosperity are offered.

6 Epiphany Christian - Known as the Feast of Theophany “appearance of God” in Orthodox churches, the Feast of Epiphany “appearance” or “manifestation” comes 12 days after  Christmas and closes the Christmas season with a second festival of “manifesting” Jesus as the Son of God, the first being the Feast of the Nativity.

7 Christmas Christian (Eastern Orthodoxy) - Celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Jesus.

14 Maghi/Makar Sankranti Sikh - Marks the change from a decrease to an increase of the sun. This observance is twinned with Lohri (celebrated by people from the Punjab region of South Asia), which also marks the passing of the winter solstice.

February 2021

2 Candlemas Christian - Commemorating the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple when he was a baby.

12 Lunar New Year Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist - The first day after the new (dark) moon is a religious and cultural festival celebrated by Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans of Buddhist and other backgrounds as New Year’s Day.

17 Ash Wednesday Christian - The beginning of Lent, the forty-day period (excluding Sundays) of prayer, repentance and self-denial that precedes Easter (Western).

25 Erev Purim Jewish - Eve of Purim

26 Purim Jewish - Celebrates victory over an oppressive ruler, as related in the Book of Esther, which is read at this time.

March 2021

11 Laylat al-Mi'rāj (or Isra and Mi'rāj) Islam - Commemorates the ascension (Mi'rāj) of the Prophet to heaven. Muslims may attend special prayer services at a mosque, or they may commemorate the holiday privately at home by telling the story to children or reciting special night-time prayers.

21 Nowruz Bahá’í, Persian/Zoroastrian - Celebrates the renewal of the world and the creation of fire (symbolic of Asha or righteousness). Zarathustra received his revelation on this day.

28 Palm Sunday Christian - Celebrates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

27 First Night of Passover Jewish

28-April 4 Passover Jewish - Celebrating the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.

29 Holi Hindu - A religious spring festival celebrated by people throwing colourful powder and coloured water at each other. Holi is dedicated to Krishna or Kama.

April 2021

1 Maundy Thursday Christian - Celebrates the institution of the Lord’s Supper by Jesus.

2 Good Friday Christian - Commemorates the Passion of Jesus Christ, i.e., his submission to death by crucifixion.

4 Last day of Passover Jewish

4 Easter (Western) Christian - Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.

13 Ramadan begins Islam - Month of fasting during which physically able Muslims do not eat or drink from the first sign of dawn until sunset. It is a time of self-examination and religious devotion.

14 Vaisakhi Sikh - on this day in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Guru, removed the clerical system from Sikhism. Thus he reaffirmed the direct connnection between Sikhs and the Divine.

21 1st Day of Ridvan Bahá’í - The festival commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s public declaration of His mission to His family and closest followers.

28 9th Day of Ridván Bahá’í - Commemoration of when Bahá’u’lláh’s family joined Him at the garden of Riḍván in Baghdad.

May 2021

1 12th Day of Ridvan Bahá’í - Concludes the important Bahá’í­ festival of Ridvan

2 Easter Christian (Eastern Orthodoxy) - Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.

7 Laylat al-Qadr Islam - Also known as the ‘Night of Power,’ Laylat al-Qadr commemorates the first revelation of the Qur‘an (Islamic scriptures) to Prophet Muḥammad in 610 CE.

12 Ramadan ends Islam

13 Eid al-Fitr Islam - One of the two most important Islamic celebrations (the other occurs after the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca). People dress in their finest clothes, adorn their homes with lights and decorations, give treats to children, and enjoy visits with friends and family.

13 Ascension Day Christian (W) - The anniversary of Jesus’ ascension into heaven and enthronement as universal sovereign. It comes forty days after Easter.

16 Erev Shavuot Jewish - Eve of Shavuot

17-18 Shavuot Jewish - Marks the conclusion of the period of seven weeks that follows Passover. Commemorates the giving of the Torah to the Israelites and the completion of God’s purpose to create a special people.

23 Declaration of The Bab Bahá’í - Commemorates the day in 1844 on which He announced His identity as The Báb, or Gate, the Herald of the new age.

23 Pentecost Christian (W) - Commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus following his ascension.

28 Ascension of Baha'u'llah Bahá’í - Marks the anniversary of the death of the founder of the Bahá‘í faith.

30 Trinity Sunday Christian - Celebration of the Christian understanding of God in Three Persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).

June 2021

16 Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji Sikh - The first Sikh Martyr and the fifth Guru, Sikhs remember Guru Arjan Dev Ji for contributing to and compiling the Sikh Scriptures. He built the Harimandir Sahib (Home of the Divine) in which Sikhs could meet to learn, in the town of Amritsar (Pool of Nectar). To emphasize that the Sikh way was open to all, regardless of caste, he constructed the Gurdwara with doors facing all four directions.

Religious Dietary Accommodations

Stanford University diligently works to provide for the diverse religious dietary needs of students.

To request a religious dietary accommodation, please email

Take time to read below the current provisions for religious dietary accommodations and the current limitations on dining in response to COVID-19.

Accommodating Religious Dietary Needs at Stanford

R&DE Stanford Dining prides itself on providing high-quality and nutritious cuisine to meet a wide variety of dietary needs within our diverse Stanford community. This year, we have adapted our dining hall food program in response to COVID-19 in order to ensure the continuing safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and community. More information about our COVID dining hall operational plan, CleanDining, can be found here.

In this new and rapidly changing environment, we strongly encourage students with religious dietary needs to plan ahead and coordinate any necessary accommodations before arriving to campus. Read below to learn more about the accommodations that are available through R&DE Stanford Dining. Students with religious dietary needs should contact the Office for Religious Life to discuss how their needs can be met on campus.

It is important to reach out to discuss your specific needs prior to arriving on campus.

Kosher Dining

R&DE Stanford Dining will continue to offer a Glatt kosher lunch and dinner program in Florence Moore Dining Hall during the academic year in partnership with students, the Office for Religious Life, Hillel and Residential Education. R&DE Stanford Dining’s Mashgiach works closely with our staff to help students maintain a Glatt kosher diet, while also making the program manageable for the other students who keep a more relaxed form of kosher diet. Students can choose to live in Florence Moore and eat kosher meals in their residence or they can choose to live in another residence and be assigned to eat their meals in Florence Moore. If preferred, students requiring kosher meals can request their housing assignment to Florence Moore through the Office for Religious Life. To learn more about kosher dining, please contact

Halal Dining

R&DE Stanford Dining offers a variety of food options to accommodate the dietary needs of Stanford’s Muslim community. All chicken served in the dining halls is certified halal and halal beef is also available on a rotating basis. We do not cook with alcohol in any of our recipes and we are conscious to avoid cross-contact of pork products during food production. During Ramadan we will provide Suhoor to-go boxes and Iftar meals in the dining halls to keep students well-nourished while fasting. This year, students in any on-campus residence will have access to halal dining options from R&DE Stanford Dining. To learn more about halal dining, please contact

Other Religious Dietary Requirements

Students with other religious dietary needs should consult with the Office for Religious Life about how their needs can be accommodated at Stanford prior to arriving on campus. Some religious dietary requirements, such as maintaining a vegetarian or vegan diet, can be accommodated in the dining halls. However, students with highly specific or complex restrictions may find it difficult to navigate these needs in the current COVID dining environment. Students who believe their religious dietary needs cannot be accommodated in the dining halls must request a different housing assignment with access to a kitchen to prepare their own foods, by contacting the Office for Religious Life prior to coming to campus.