Object of the Month - September 2014 - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Object of the Month - September 2014

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Haifa Harbor  Nachum Gutman (1898-1980) Oil on canvas, c. 1960 Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Robert  M. Lawrence

Rosh Hashanah Greeting Cards, die cut, embossed cardstock, c. 1910 USA, gift of Temple Beth Hillel, 19.285, 19.288.

Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the High Holy Days, as well as the Jewish New Year.  Rosh Hashanah, meaning “head of the year,” typically occurs in September or October and its advent on the first day of the seventh month of Tishri is determined by the lunar calendar.  This year, 5775, Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset on September 24th and ends at sunset on September 26th.  Many Reform Jews celebrate for one day, while most Conservative and Orthodox Jews observe for two.  Rosh Hashanah is a time of renewal, reflection, and repentance in order to prepare for the Days of Awe that lead up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

It is customary to send greeting cards to friends and family for Rosh Hashanah wishing L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu, or “May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year.”  The Cincinnati Skirball Museum collection houses several beautiful Victorian era (c. 1910) holiday greeting cards.  The six cards in our collection were a gift of Temple Beth Hillel and are ornate and colorful, consistent with Victorian period secular holiday cards.  Also in keeping with secular cards of the period, each card is die cut, embossed and three-dimensional. One of the cards featured here depicts a “pop-up” scene of a rabbi blowing the shofar (ram’s horn) among roses and doves. The other shows a rabbi at the bimah, or pulpit, wearing a tallit (prayer shawl).  The complexity of the design and the richness of the color, particularly on the floral motifs, make these cards truly unique and wonderful examples of how Jewish Americans greeted both the beginning of a new year and a new decade of the early twentieth century.

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