Today was a rare celebration for Jews around the world. Every 28 years, according to Jewish tradition, the sun returns to the same spot it was at in the sky on the fourth day of the week – when the sun, moon, and stars were created. This Birkat HaChamah was especially unusual because it occured just before Passover begins.
The celebration includes a special prayer thanking God for creating the sun. Some added folk songs like “Here Comes the Sun” and “Morning Has Broken” to their celebrations! The ritual goes back to the 3rd century, originating from an astronomer and Jewish teacher named Schmuel.
Blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the Universe who makes the works of Creation.
Jewish observers are very careful to emphasize that they are not worshipping the sun. Instead they are celebrating the creation of the sun. They look at the sun one time and then turn at an angle during the ceremony to make this point.
Some of these gatherings even included reflections about caring for Creation and the need to develop more solar power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
For further reading on Birkat HaChamah: