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 a historical yet contemporary manner. In Jewish texts, it is unusual for women to be defined as subjects of situations rather than as objects and names. 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.
“Whoever blesses the new moon in its time welcomes in the presence of the Shechina."
—Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 42a
Programming for Rosh Chodesh
- Host a special celebration each Rosh Chodesh, either on the day itself or on the closest Shabbat. WRJ recommends the Rosh Hodesh Prayer Book, produced by Women of the Wall (WOW) in partnership with WRJ and inspired by the women's prayer group that meets each new month at the Kotel. To help you put together your service, WRJ has put together a guide to accompany the WOW Siddur.
- Check out Or Ami "Light of Our People" Award-winning Rosh Chodesh programs by Congregation Kol Tikvah Sisterhood, Parkland, FL; Congregation Beth Israel, Austin, TX; and Sisterhood of Temple Sholom, Vancouver, BC, Canada
- Showcase important Jewish women leaders and role models, in Jewish texts and in more recent history. Discuss their history and accomplishments, especially with younger women in your congregation.
- Start each month engaging in Jewish text and deepening sisterhood connections by hosting a WRJ-Chai Mitzvah group. Chai Mitzvah is easy to implement and can be led by anyone. We provide facilitator guides and resources along with WRJ focused supplementary materials. Learn more about how to start your group here.