Happy New Year from the Center for Jewish History!

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Happy New Year from the Center for Jewish History. We’ve dug into our partners’ vast collections to find a wonderful selection of vintage Rosh Hashanah greeting cards to celebrate the Jewish New Year of 5773, which begins at sundown on Sunday, September 16, 2012.

The colorful cards date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and offer nostalgic greetings in English, Hebrew and Yiddish. A number were created by the Williamsburg Post Card Company and printed in Germany. The subjects are varied and include charming children, whimsical animals and religious subjects.

The tradition of sending Jewish New Year’s greetings goes back centuries. The famous scholar and rabbi known as Maharil (Jacob ben Moses Moellin, 1360 -1427 C.E.) mentions the custom as early as the 15th century. With the industrial revolution, printing became inexpensive. Greeting cards in the form we know today first became popular during the 1880s when entrepreneurs began selling cards printed specifically for Rosh Hashanah.

The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which begins this year at sundown on September 25, are known as the Days of Awe. They are a time of reflection, repentance and charity and continue to be a time of philanthropy, as organizations make their appeals to members.

Above: Click the images for larger views. The first 7 greeting cards are care of YU Museum collections. They can be viewed along with additional material on the Center’s Flickr page. The last image is from the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research collections. It appeared in the Center’s Decade of Distinction publication.

originally published on 9/13/2012 on the 16th Street Blog

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