Holiday Tools

Looking for some insights or new rituals for an upcoming holiday? Here we post practical, easy to use guidelines for the holy days, both Jewish and American, that mark the way stations along the circle of the year.

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Celebrating Rosh Chodesh

A story is told: A few months shy of the year 2000, college-age women invite me to come to their Rosh Chodesh group celebration. They have candles ready to light, prayers copied, cookies and fruits that are shaped in moon-like slivers. They invite us to introduce ourselves to each other by our English names, our Hebrew names, and the names of as many ancestors as we can recall. Some of the women have never been to a Rosh Chodesh celebration, and the student-host explains that Jewish women getting together on Rosh Chodesh is an ancient tradition. Like our ancestors, she continues, we say prayers, study Torah, learn about the holidays, and learn about ourselves.

I am very lucky, I decide, to have lived long enough to see an ancient tradition become an ancient tradition once again.



Allow the events and images of the past month run through your mind. From the many memories, choose two that you wish to take with you into the next month. Remember something you learned from them.

Imagine being cleansed of all that was difficult during the past month, letting go of anger and disappointment. Would it be possible to forgive yourself for what you failed to accomplish and for what you were not yet able to be?



Alone, or better yet, with friends or family, light a candle on the eve of the New Moon, taking all the time you need to look deeply into the flame, time to become centered and renewed. You might light an ordinary candle, a wick floating in oil over water, or a long-burning candle. Celebrate the New Moon with study, music and good foods.



(Lighting a candle)

Blessed are You who gives us the New Moon,

This a sign of beginning anew.

Blessed are You,

As we start all over again.

New Moon, ancient light-

May my spirit rise to you,

In [name of new month]’s sky.

(Marcia Falk, Book of Blessings)



God makes the moon to mark the seasons;

The sun knows when to set.

You bring on darkness and it is night,

When all the bests in the forest stir.

(Psalms 104:19-20)


You have granted your people New Moon festivals as a time of atonement throughout the generations.

(Rosh Chodesh blessing)


The women heard about the construction of the Golden Calf and refused to submit their jewelry to their husbands. Instead the said to them, "You want to construct an idol and mask which is an abomination and has no power to redeem? We will not listen to you." And the Holy One rewarded them in this world in that they would observe the New Moons more than men, and in the next world, in that they would be renewed like the New Moons.

(Pirke DeRabbi Eliezer, chapter 45)


Chodesh tov! A good month!

(CLAL Faculty)



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