Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Happy New Year, 5774

A weird thing happened over Labor Day weekend. The three days normally reserved for barbecues, swimming pools, and final beach trips were instead, for many people of my acquaintance, filled with apple picking. 

Yes, apple picking.

The beloved annual outing normally reserved for a crisp late-September day took place for many this year as summer poured out the last of its steamy heat. Not because they relished the idea of sweating their way through an apple orchard, but rather because apples are an integral part of the Jewish new year, otherwise known as Rosh Hashanah, which, this year, falls strangely early on the Jewish calendar.

Essentially just an extension of the Labor Day long weekend this year, Rosh Hashanah begins tonight, approximately two weeks earlier than the norm. Along with the first night of Chanukah and Thanksgiving falling out on the same day, the freakishly early Jewish holidays have something to do with the way that the Jewish calendar is slowly moving out of sync with the solar calendar.

It is so unusual, in fact, that last time Rosh Hashanah fell out this early in September was in 1899, and the next time will be 2089. So it has never happened in our lifetime, and unless I live to be 107, it will never again happen in mine. 

And the Chanukah situation is even more fascinating. Try and get your head around this. Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November, which means that the latest it could ever be is November 28th. November 28th is also the absolute earliest that Chanukah could ever be. Because of the aforementioned syncing of the lunar and solar calendars, the last time this could have happened would have been 1861, which was two years before Thanksgiving was formally established in the United States, so it has never, ever happened before. And apparently, if the Jewish calendar is never modified in any way, the next time that Chanukah will fall on Thursday, November 28th will be the year 79,811. So, basically, never.

These, folks, are historic times.

These are also family times, times of reflection, and times of celebration.

Tonight, as the sun begins to set, I will light candles and welcome in this most important month of the Jewish calendar. For four successive weeks, we will celebrate four different holidays, and come out the other side of this month ready to start again, to begin as we mean to go on.

Because of the holidays, my time here on this blog will be limited over these next weeks. I'll look forward to being back full force in October. But until then, for those of you who are celebrating, I wish you a sweet and peaceful new year filled with health, happiness and success. Or, as we say in Hebrew, Shana Tova. 


  1. Shana Tova! I hope you have a wonderful month of renewal and family. And how fascinating about Thanksgiving and Chanukah. I hadn't heard that, yet.

  2. happiest new year! thanks for the lesson, i'm going to share with my kids. so interesting. :)

  3. Happy New Year! I love learning so much from you!

  4. That is an amazingly educational and wonderfully cool fact-filled post! :)