Our joyful Rosh Chodesh assemblies do more than just mark the first day of a new Jewish month and call attention to the progression of the Jewish year. These assemblies provide a warm communal experience for all involved—students and adults alike. When I prepare for such an assembly, I am often reminded of my experience as a young girl growing up in Israel, excited to get two and a half Lira from my mother on the morning of every Rosh Chodesh. This was not allowance, oh no; it was “treat money”—to be spent on a Popsicle (in the summer) or a chocolate bar (in the winter) on my walk home from school. Falafel for dinner topped off that day’s celebration. It made Rosh Chodesh festive, exciting, special—like a “mini holiday,” as it was in ancient times.
Now, in our beautiful Ann Arbor, I regard our assemblies as something like those two and half Lira—as the little treat that turns a regular day at HDS into a special day. Seeing the students’ excitement as they watch their friends perform, their knowing smiles as they hear the Gansters sing, and their giddy anticipation for משחק החודש (the “monthly game”), indicate that we, too, celebrate a mini holiday together each month.
Our Rosh Chodesh celebrations—which are attended by parents and by other guests who take time from their busy schedules to come celebrate with us—also signal to our children that Jewish ritual and celebration are not for the synagogue alone, and are not limited in time to Shabbat and to the more elaborate, once-a-year holidays. It brings the joy of our traditions into the regular workweek. When we fill a room with families on a seemingly random Tuesday to celebrate the new Jewish month together, it encourages the children to embrace the beauty of being Jewish every day, without the need to cook, bake, or dress up.
Finally, there are just so many opportunities for learning during these assemblies—some explicit, others more subtle. A shy Ganster singing in front of a room full of strangers; an impromptu back-and-forth in Hebrew about the Jewish calendar; an opportunity to stand up and be honored on your birthday; supporting other students as they perform – these are as special as the day itself. They promote personal and social growth and pave the way to future success.
We hope you will take the opportunity to see all of this first hand by joining us for our next Rosh Chodesh assembly on January 27th, 2017, at 8:15.