L’shanah tovah tikateiv v’tichateimu
Five Minutes for Israel wishes all of our readers who celebrate the festival, May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.
About the graphic elements
The choice of the graphic elements for Rosh Hashana greetings produces its challenges. The main iconic symbols, blowing the shofar, apples with honey and pomegranates have returned, each year, for thousands. To be a little different Five Minutes for Israel decided to go a little retro. Back to the temple in Jerusalem for the 5-in-a-star and to 1920 for the card. Have a wonderful 5779†.
The New Year card
This card was printed in Saxony, Germany for the Williamsburg Post Card Company, New York in about 1920.
The Father Time imagery intrigued me. The robed, white-bearded old man with the harvesting scythe has been around since at least the 16th century in art. This means his origins must be earlier for the icon to have any meaning to the viewers. Yet I found no Jewish use of him … until this postcard.
Similarly while Father Time and Baby New Year, cycle of life, are two common images for New Year. Just not Jewish images.
And what’s going on with the cherub wings? Cherubs have a Jewish origin but nothing to do with New Year.
We’ll leave you to judge whether together with English the American Jews, together with the English language, absorbed the symbols of the era or whether some German photographer had let his imagination go wild.
The original card had text in Yiddish, Hebrew and English. Yiddish, a mixture of German and Hebrew written in Hebrew characters was the normal language of the Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants to America. We took an executive decision to replace the Yiddish with out greeting partly for artistic reasons and partly because I don’t speak Yiddish.
The 5-in-a-star graphic
The text of the Priestly Blessing recited by the Kohanim, which appears verbatim in the Torah, is:
- [May] Adonai bless you, and guard you
- [May] Adonai make His face shine unto you, and be gracious to you
- [May] Adonai lift up His face unto you, and give to you peace
In Hebrew law and custom only Kohanim (i.e., adult – age 13 or older – males in direct patrilineal descent from Aaron) can perform the Priestly Benediction because the practice is a direct continuation of the Temple ritual, and should be performed by those who would authentically be eligible to do so in the Temple. Non-Orthodox denominations sometimes have different rules.
Different groups within Judaism (Sephardi/Ashkenazi, Orthodox/non-Orthodox, in Israel/out of Israel) recite at different times during the year. For many Jews, who restrict their synagogue attendance, the Priestly Blessing is one of the most memorable parts of the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services.
‘Live long and prosper’ is an abbreviated version of the traditional Jewish religious blessing. It came to a wider public in the Star Trek TV series. It was used there by the character Mr. Spock (actor Leonard Nimoy, himself Jewish) as the greeting of the Vulcan people.
Searching for an answer for the Father Time and baby I found a sepia toned original and a coloured print of a very similar photograph. Perhaps this was a turn of the century version of the Santa snap? No doubt hundreds of photographs were taken with the same costumed actors in the same setting.
Perhaps the couple in this example paid extra to have the original hand coloured and lithographic prints made for family and friends? Delighted to have some feedback on this one.
I also dance with the grace of a robot. The Haifa Technion builds them.
† To find the corresponding Jewish year for any year on the Gregorian calendar, add 3760 to the Gregorian number, if it is before Rosh Hashanah. After Rosh Hashanah, add 3761.
* This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or less. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923.