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New Year, What Year?

By Batya Medad
12/24/2009, 12:00 AM

I hope that you click on my other blogs, Shiloh Musings and me-ander, since there's lots more of my articles and essays to read there. 

Thanks New Year, What Year?

During my career as an Israeli EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher, I've come across a surprising amount of students who insisted that they lived according to the Jewish Calendar only.  They were sincerely confused and befuddled when I'd give them a list of the English months and tell them to put them in the correct order.  When I was subbing in Ulpanat (the girls high school in) Ofra, my class of relatively recent olot chadashot immigrants from Ethiopia were sure that the English months must be translations of the Hebrew months which they had just learned in Israel.
In Israel it's legal to write Jewish dates on checks and other documents. You can call us a "bi-calendar country."

In Israel it's legal to write Jewish dates on checks and other documents.  You can call us a "bi-calendar country."

I was raised in America and the "goyish calendar" is the one I was raised on and knew best, but with the birth of our children we adopted use of the Jewish Calendar for birthdays.  And that now includes our birthdays, too.

Living in Israel since 1970, we've also been oblivious to American and goyish holidays.  They're irrelevant to our lives.  That includes Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the Israeli media and commercial interests are getting more goyish.  Here we are in late December and besides the usual annual "what's happening in Bethlehem news," we're being plagued by "New Years" sic stuff.

January first isn't my "new year."  My year begins on the first of Tishrei, Rosh Hashanah.  I celebrate according the the Jewish Calendar, even though I sign my checks with goyish dates. January 1st is the day I must remember to write in a new number, that it's going to be 2010 and not 2009.  I wonder how long it will take me to get that straight.  Each year it's more of an effort, but then again, each year seems to get shorter.  As we get older, each new year is a smaller percentage of our life.

Before I finish with this topic, I'd like to remind you that the Jewish Calendar is based on the moon; it's lunar.  When I'm out at night, I enjoy calculating the day of the month according to how much moon we see in the sky.