“Whoever blesses the new moon in its time welcomes in the presence of the Shechina."
—Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 42a
Rosh Chodesh marks the beginning of each month as determined by the appearance of the new moon. Though all Jews traditionally observed this day, it is celebrated as a holiday for women whose origins go back to the Talmud.
In midrashic literature (the stories and parables that add color to our legal and authoritative texts), the moon is associated with women. We are told that the moon and the sun were originally the same size. The moon was made smaller as punishment for its arrogance, but is destined to regain her stature and prominence while remaining different and distinctive from the sun. Women, too, are promised renewal and reappropriation of status in the world to come, a world which will be defined by justice and peace.
Because of these strong and unique links between women and the moon, Rosh Chodesh provides a wonderful and rare opportunity for women to connect Jewishly in an historical yet contemporary manner. In Jewish texts, it is unusual for women to be defined as subject of situations rather than as object and named. Rosh Chodesh lifts women out of the observer realm and elevates us to initiators, full participants, leaders, and creators. We value these opportunities to define our religious identity and to embellish in our own words, amongst ourselves, both the mundane and sacred aspects of our lives.