Summer is almost over. As usual, it goes by too quickly. When the summer ends, it’s back to school time. But it’s also time to think of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah is early this year. It begins after sunset on September 9, about two and half weeks away.
Speaking of Rosh Hashanah, do you know when the first Jewish New Year cards were sent? Do you think that maybe Jews just copied the Christian tradition of sending Holiday cards? Read on to find out.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the first Jewish New Year cards were actually sent in the Middle Ages, while Christian New Year cards only began to be sent in the 19th century. The practice of sending cards for the Jewish New Year is first mentioned in the Book of Customs of Rabbi Jacob, published in 1556 in Germany. Since Jews believe that on Rosh Hashanah one’s fate is set down in one the three open Heavenly books, German rabbis recommended that letters sent in the month before Rosh Hashanah should begin with the blessing that the recipient be inscribed and sealed for a good New Year.
When postcards were invented in Vienna in 1869, they quickly became the favored method of sending Jewish Holiday greetings. The peak period for illustrated postcards was from 1898-1918 and they were produced mainly in Germany, Warsaw and New York City. German cards were often illustrated with Biblical themes, while those from Warsaw depicted the religious life of Eastern European Jewry. Although the scenes on these cards were often theatrically staged, they preserved views and customs which were lost during the Holocaust.
The mass immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe to the United States in the early 20th century led to an increase in the production of these cards. Often, these Jewish New Year postcards depicted America as the new homeland, while others featured Zionist ideology and contemporary views of Israel.
In Israel, during the 19th century, Jews sent Rosh Hashanah greetings using tablets of varying sizes, featuring images of its four”Holy “ cities, as well as holy sites in and around Jerusalem. The binding of Isaac was a popular motif and it was often drawn against the backdrop of the Temple Mount. These tablets were often sent abroad for fundraising purposes.
In the 1920s and 30s, Jewish New Year cards printed in Israel depicted work on the land and “secular” views of the new pioneers. Over the years, many new designs and motifs were created. Towards the end of the 20th century, the sending of physical cards in Israel declined and was superseded by phone calls and internet messages.
In the United States, the advent of email and ecards also caused the practice of snail mailing Jewish New Year cards to family and friends to decline. However, many people still love to get actual cards. For those people, JewTee has a large selection of different types of Jewish New Year cards.
We hope you’re one of those people who both likes to send and receive paper versions of Rosh Hashanah cards you can read and display.
JewTee.com has many different types of Rosh Hashanah cards. Here are a few of our favorite funny ones:
Here are some Hebrew English Rosh Hashanah cards:
JewTee has many more cards. To see the entire collection of Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah cards, click here.