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2020 has been a year for the books to say the least, and while the secular calendar year has a few months to go, tonight marks the start to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
Family gatherings for Rosh Hashanah may indeed be more somber in tone than the festivities common to New Year’s Eve (apples and honey instead of champagne toasts to start), but the holiday does encourage honest reflection on our follies in the year prior, and an earnest and optimistic desire for a good – and sweeter – year ahead.
Below are some of the interesting artifacts that the Jewish Museum in New York City has in its archives commemorating the High Holidays. Shofars and customary greeting cards document the history of the holiday and demonstrate the importance of closing out one chapter thoughtfully to herald in the next.
Greeting cards with well wishes for the New Year are common practice on the holiday. This tradition dates back centuries when the medieval Rabbi Jacob ben Moses Moellin, known as Maharil, encouraged the writing of special greetings to friends and family.
According to tradition, on Rosh Hashanah, God opens the “Book of Life,” offering a time for reflection on the past year and the possibility of renewal for the year ahead. During the holiday, the phrase, “may you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year,” is a popular greeting in Rosh Hashanah cards.
A greeting card produced by the Wiener Werkstätte, or Viennese Workshops. These geometric prints were used across various designs from textiles, to furniture and jewelry. The workshops produced over one-thousand postcards for the Jewish New Year, prior to WWII.