Rosh Hashanah Greetings 2018/5779

Posted on September 6, 2018 by

A blog post by Director of Learning and Visitor Engagement Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

This coming Sunday evening, September 9th, Jewish people from all over the world will be celebrating the Jewish New Year! Rosh Hashanah (literally meaning the “head” of the year) is celebrated on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. It’s customary to extend greetings and sentiments to loved ones and friends on the holiday. The tradition of sending Jewish New Year greeting cards dates back to the Middle Ages, predating the Christian New Year card tradition, which only became popular in Europe and the United States during the 19th century!

Holiday greetings often include wishes for good health and a sweet new year. Shana Tova means “a good year” and is often extended to L ’Shana Tova umetuka, which means “To a good and sweet year.”  I wondered about the different New Year’s greetings that were in the JMM’s extensive collection – it turns out we have quite a few cards, and I wanted to share a few that I really liked.

In this 1908 card, a man with a white beard (probably symbolizing a rabbi) is blowing a shofar (ram’s horn) which is an important part of the Rosh Hashanah service.  The man is wearing white which is traditionally worn during the High Holidays to reflect the search for inner purity. I thought that this image really captured the essence of the holiday. JMM 1983.019.016b

I loved this card.  There is so much symbolism in the card – from the Statute of Liberty to the inclusion of both the American flag and the flag of Israel.  Interestingly, this card is from the 1940s – possibly before the State of Israel was officially established. One can infer that the sender of the card identified as both an American patriot and a supporter of Zionism. JMM 1990.014.001

Moses in Basket, ca.1911, addressed to the Hecht Family and Baby Hannah, JMM 1997.45.9

Children with Flowers ca 1912, addressed to Baby Hannah Hecht, JMM 1997.045.010

I thought that the two New Year’s greetings above were so sweet – especially since they were sent in sequential years (1911, 1912) to the Hecht Family and Baby Hannah of Havre de Grace, Maryland. The first postcard shows the traditional bible scene of Baby Moses and Miriam on the River Nile and is printed with Hebrew and German.  The second postcard, which is addressed only to Baby Hannah, features adorable children and flowers along with wishes for a New Year written in both Hebrew and English.

This greeting card looked very familiar to me with its mosaic pattern containing a menorah, torah scroll and shofar.  The thing that most caught my eye was that the familiar greeting of Shana Tova was not used.  Instead, the Hebrew phrase Hayom Harat Olam was used, which means “Today is the (birth) day of the world,” a prayer that traces back to Babylonian times and was included in the prayer book of Maimonides! JMM 2008.056.006

Let’s fast forward to 2018.  It is still customary to send greeting cards, however the way in which they are sent are very different than 100 years ago.  The Internet and social media outlets allow us to send our own personal messages to those we love and care about, like this Paperless Post e-card.

When I first got married my husband and I sent out our own greetings to friends and family through snail mail.  Today, we create our own cards to reflect our hopes and dreams for the New Year! I hope you enjoy Floyd modeling with our 2017 Alon Family Rosh Hashanah Card.

Happy New Year!  Chag Sameach!  Gut Yontiff and L’Shanah Tova…….  May we all be inscribed and sealed for a for a good year!

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