Sending Rosh Hashanah Cards

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, September 7, 2012

Sending Rosh Hashanah cards is a much-loved custom that crosses religious-secular lines. The first cards that we know of were sent in 14th century Germany. The custom really took off in Eastern Europe and the United States with the development of the postage stamp there around 1860-70.

Browsing through the illustrations of old cards reveals much about Jewish communities in different periods of modern history. Soldiers on a World War One battlefield wearing prayer shawls grace the cover of one card, whose greeting is both in Hebrew and German. Another features wealthy-looking American Jews greeting their newly arrived, poor Eastern European relatives. The “Old Settlement” Jews of pre-state Israel used Rosh Hashanah cards with religious images as a fundraising tool. Israel’s pioneers’ cards featured farmers, Jaffa oranges.

Today many suffice with a text or Facebook message to hundreds of friends. Still it’s not the same as a pretty card with a hand-written message. Call me old-fashioned…

Last updated: 12:08pm, September 10 2012