The Jewish calendar is based on the cycle of the moon, which grows into a full moon and then disappears about every 30 days. The Jewish year does not begin on January 1, but rather in the fall with the transition from the “moon” month of Elul to the “moon” month of Tishrei (typically sometime in September).

In Jewish tradition, people gather during Elul in the pre-dawn darkness to sing songs called Selichot (Hebrew for “forgiveness”). Here is a popular one:

 

 

Then Rosh Hashanah begins on the first of Tishrei, when the small crescent of the new moon appears in the evening sky.

The Jewish new year is called Rosh Hashanah rosh is “head” and hashanah is “the year.” In Hebrew the word for “year” (shanah) comes from a root meaning “to change.”

How the Jewish calendar works via 18Doors

 

 

 

What is PJ Library?
If you like this guide, make sure you are signed up for PJ Library, and we will send your child an age-appropriate, expertly curated Jewish children’s book every month. PJ Library is a free program for families raising Jewish kids from birth through 12 years old, offering books that capture children’s imaginations with fun characters and vibrant illustrations. PJ Library stories are a fun, easy way to share Jewish culture and values with your child.

Publication Permissions