Saturday, October 17, 2009

Reach for the Moon with Rosh Chodesh

Sunday night and Monday are Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan. Your students might be interested to know that during Biblical times Rosh Chodesh was known as a “ma’or festival” – a holiday of (lunar) light – and was considered a special occasion. Once two reliable eyewitnesses spotted the first sliver of the moon in the night sky, messengers were sent out, informing everyone that the new month had begun. Trumpets were blown, delicious feasts were held, and sacrifices were brought to the Temple celebrating the new moon and month. The Rabbis of the Talmud compared the moon to Israel, since both were active and constantly renewing themselves.

Eventually Rosh Chodesh celebrations receded into the background. Today, it is viewed by many as a woman’s holiday. But there is nothing new under the moon. According to the Talmud (tractate Megillah 22b), women are exempt from doing work on Rosh Chodesh. Rashi elaborated even further by listing the exact tasks women don’t have to do – spinning, weaving and sewing – because of the specific contributions women made to building the Mishkan. It is also believed that Rosh Chodesh is dedicated to women because they refused to physically participate in the creation of the golden calf. Finally, there’s the obvious comparison to the monthly female cycle.

So where does this leave you and your students? First of all, who doesn’t like to eat yummy food as in days of yore? Rosh Chodesh is one more (Jewish) reason to make snack or lunch time a special event. Rosh Chodesh is also a great time to hold a class on the moon and its different phases. I found this link to help you with a lesson plan. Finally, keeping in line with the feminist aspect, dedicate each Rosh Chodesh to a different female Jewish heroine that boys will enjoy learning about as well.

Chodesh Tov…Tami


  1. Another great resource for children Grade 3 and up is ,
    a wonderful online magazine for Jewish children. This month's "issue" focuses on Rosh Hodesh with student activities, games, and lesson plans for teachers. Janice Levine

  2. Janice thank you for sharing that info. I checked out the Rosh Hodesh activities on babaganewz and they are wonderful. I invite everyone to share info and your own classroom activities with us. Tami