Rosh Chodesh is a semi-festival that falls every month and celebrates the New Moon, but as most working and student lives are governed primarily by the Gregorian calendar, it has lost much of its true depth and significance in the tapestry of Jewish life. As a result, it is either observed ritually and minimalistically, while being ignored educationally, at one end of the scale - or presented only in its esoteric aspects, at the other. We invite you to take another look at the goals and content of Rosh Chodesh programs, as well as the richness of their context.
To help convey the unique meaning and features of Rosh Chodesh holistically, educators might therefore wish to brainstorm all their own associations with this holiday before selecting a particular perspective. Our recommendation is first to explore Rosh Chodesh from its origins, through its related source texts and customs, its various spiritual perspectives, including the special "color" of each Jewish month and the Torah readings that month, in order to arrive at meaningful study plans and programming activities, tht present your focus in the larger setting. Just reading the description of the websites linked below will afford a feeling for the potential offered by Rosh Chodesh programs - we recommend browsing these features before designing your own. If you would like us to post your own Rosh Chodesh programme on the Education Department website, please write in!
II. Our Resources
introductory article: original determination, fixed calendar, single and two day Rosh Chodesh, observances. Brief, but central themes are well highlighted.
Yom Kippur Katan
Presents themes of and mentions sources on atonement and forgiveness; justice and righteousness; links to Yom Kippur Katan articles on other websites.
III. Best of the Web A-Z
A. Community and General Education
Being Jewish > Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Gateway
One extensive article on the New Moon in Judaism, Midrash and explanations; two more articles in preparation.
BJE San Francisco > Rosh Hodesh 'How To'
12 sections (some files are split).
Extensive collection of presentation and programming resources, progressing from Time and origins; Songs; Kiddush Hal'vana; Groups; Month by Month (programming); Family; Recipes; Calendar Appendix; Glossary; Bibliography & Resources (well researched). Prayers include English with Hebrew gifs; programming brings substantial and relevant themes for activities, home and lessons from different books of the Tanach, Jerusalem, poetry and similar. Orientation is for community, family, school; sources and some programming themes applicable for students, women, adult education.
Hillel > Rosh Chodesh Groups Guide
Extensive and comprehensive series, with substantial added value, focusing on the traditional sources and on women. Suitable for bnot mitzvah, students, adult education.
Offers: How to Use the Guide (structure, ritual, introducing the month, main activity, opening & closing); Understanding Rosh Chodesh (history; atonement; women's holiday; moments before, during and after in prayers; groups); Opening and Closing Ceremonies for Rosh Chodesh (all the prayers and relevant sources brought in English); together with well-researched, multiple files for each of the 12 months (eg: significance of each month and its festivals, matriarchs, women in history and contemporary life, prayers, or additional sources to view).
Introductory file for use in pre-school and families focuses on 3 central questions about significance, origins and observance of Rosh Chodesh, with ideas for moon projects.
Introductory plus. Lead file on Rosh Chodesh contains a dozen extension links to related topics and addresses origins, Blessing the New Moon, liturgy and Women.
Jewish Lights/Hadassah > Moonbeams, a Hadassah Rosh Hodesh Guide
Online first chapter (14pp) offers blessing the New Moon, together with all the Biblical and Talmudic references, plus questions for discussion - some general, some for women's groups.
My Jewish Learning/Hadassah >Moonbeams: A Hadassah Rosh Hodesh Guide
Overview of history and contemporary celebration of Rosh Chodesh, with additional background links for all significant terms; as on Jewish Lights: Blessing the new moon, three articles on women's aspects of Rosh Chodesh.
Nurit Reshef/Department for Jewish Zionist Education > Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh
4 short files for teachers and lower elementary grades, with visuals.
Customs/Introduction - 3 Bible sources for Rosh Chodesh, with explanation; Brief description of related prayers: Blessing the New Moon, Yaaleh Veyavo, Hallel, Torah Reading, Mussaf without Tefillin; Kiddush and Declaration of the New Moon: History of Sanhedrin and witnesses to the new moon; Mishnah on customs of lighting flares to declare the new moon explained;
Months of the year train, with text and audio (java enabled browsers).
Rosh Hodesh Tzedakah Project
Pro-active giving ideas for each month, with a reason and link to each organizational option (Jewish, Israeli and American options).
Torah Org > Rosh Chodesh, a Special Holiday for Women
1 short article.
Brings Gemara, Shulchan Aruch, Rashi and other sources on the origins of women's exemption from work on Rosh Chodesh.
Suitable for students, senior high school, women's groups and adult education.
12 Rosh Chodesh activity ideas linked to women in the parsha; Jewish history; issues connected to the festivals - one for each month of the year; Introduction to Rosh Chodesh - with women's aspects; Origins of Rosh Chodesh - with extensive general source texts and some external links.
B. Especially for Women
Clal - Holiday Tools > Celebrating Rosh Chodesh
1 short article - introductory.
Rosh Chodesh as a women's celebration, with some ideas for meditation, quotations from Pirke deRabbi Eliezer, Psalms, brachot and Marcia Falk.
Hillel (as above)
Jewish Lights (as above)
My Jewish Learning (as above)
Rabbi Goldie > Holding a Women's Rosh Chodesh Group
[Site emphasizes spiritual healing.] 1 short article - introductory plus.
Rosh Chodesh in the biblical and historical context, with source quotations; lists of ideas for the modern setting as a women's meditative group.
WUJS (as above)
List of Online Resources in Hebrew is available separately.