By Josh Traulsen, Senior Manager, Alumni Engagement

At the beginning of each lunar month, Jewish people all over the globe gather to celebrate Rosh Chodesh, which literally translates to “head of the month” in Hebrew. During Biblical times, this day was marked with special celebrations and sacrifices at the Temple. Before accurate lunar calendars existed, the Rosh Chodesh was announced by lighting signal fires in Jerusalem once two witnesses had certified that they had sighted the sliver of a new moon. These fires would in-turn signal other fires to be lit and in this way, the message would travel quickly that a new month had begun.

In modern times, Rosh Chodesh is celebrated by adding special prayers to the daily prayers, reciting the portion of the Torah where the sacrifices for Rosh Chodesh are described, and preparing festive meals. This tradition has morphed into the creation of countless groups of people getting together to signify the time in a wide variety of observances. From reciting special prayers to doing Jewish study, to volunteering and creating works of art, the ways that you can choose to celebrate Rosh Chodesh are endless and can be tweaked to fit any community.

The next Rosh Chodesh is Rosh Chodesh Sivan which begins on May 23rd at sundown. This is the month where the holiday of Shavuot takes place when the Israelites received the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is a time of celebration and time of learning.  Sivan is a great time to double down on something new that you are learning or to try to make a change in your life.

It is in this tradition that we invite you to host a virtual “Make Your Own Calendar” program. You can gather your community virtually and have each individual create a one-month calendar for the upcoming month for themselves that includes pictures, sayings, intentions, and/or goals for the month. This is meant to be something that is displayed for the participant to reference throughout the month to make sure they are sticking to their ambitions. 

Before the Program:

Encourage participants to:

  1. Decide if they would prefer to create a digital or hard copy calendar
  2. If they choose a physical calendar, make sure they gather the supplies they will need (paper, canvas, markers, pens, colored pencils, paint, ruler, pre-printed calendar template, glue, etc.) 
  3. If they choose to do a digital calendar, they can use this tool to create one:

During the program:

  • Start by letting everyone introduce themselves and give a little background on Rosh Chodesh.
  • Use the following discussion questions to get the conversation started:
    • How do we mark transitions in our lives?
    • How do we make plans for our future?
    • How do we hold ourselves accountable to our goals?
  • Set some intentions for what you want from your calendars.  
    • Are you using it to mark time?
    • Are you going to add some milestones or goals to your calendar?
    • Are you going to remind yourself to exercise? Call a friend? Focus on yourself? Take a Break?
    • Are you going to use this to manifest some intentions for next month?
  • Once you have created a little foundation for your calendars, encourage everyone to begin working on their calendars, and talk through some of their ideas.
    • Depending on the size of your program, you can split participants into smaller breakout rooms and even rotate the groups occasionally throughout the program. 
    • Have some music prepared to play while participants are working on their calendars.
  • At the end of your time, encourage participants to stop where they are and if they choose to, share what they have created and one thing about their calendar that they would like to share.  

After the Program:

  • Encourage participants to share their final creations in a Facebook group, their Instagram story, etc. 

There are so many ways to celebrate Rosh Chodesh and whichever way you choose to celebrate it is the right way. Do some Tikkun Olam, learn about a topic that interests your community, make a special dish, talk about mental health, or just gather and be present for each other.  The choice is yours! Please make sure to tag Moishe House on Facebook and Instagram if you post it to social media!