Ron Breiman
Let's return to the Hebrew calendar
Why does the school year start on September 1 instead of the first of Elul?

Our two senior women ministers take upon themselves missions that are neither Jewish nor democratic. One of them, Tzipi Livni, talks loudly and repeatedly about the "two-state-solution", namely the anti-Zionist vision.


Her argument is the demographic danger, the fear of having an Arab majority between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. But

then, just one sentence later, she always contradicts herself when she talks about the Palestinian state (Judenrein, free of Jews) that she plans to establish as the place where Arab refugees should be settled. In other words: Livni is preaching for the creation of an Arab majority between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Doesn't she understand it? Obviously not.


The other minister, Yuli Tamir, follows suit by preaching that Israeli state schools should use the enemy's term – naqba – when referring to the history of the Land of Israel in the twentieth century, and presents the "Green Line" to Israeli children as if it were a border. Tamir is the extreme left organization Peace Now's representative in government, and as such she disregards the facts.


For example, the armistice agreement in 1949, in which the "Green Line" was determined, explicitly says that this line will not be the border between Israel and the Arabs. Doesn't she understand it? Obviously not.


Instead of these ministers' pathetic ideas, one may use less pretentious but more Jewish and more educative terms, and even some that are not involved with existential threats or huge expenditures.


Using the Jewish calendar

Last week, the new school year started in Israel. According to the Jewish calendar, the year is 5768, but for some reason the school year starts on September 1. Israeli children cannot succeed, within the few days between September 1 and Rosh Hashana, to learn about the Jewish holidays and culture. Israeli citizens will continue to ask the strange questions like "when is Rosh Hashana this year?" or when "does Yom Kippur fall?"


For more than 3,500 years these holidays have been celebrated on the first and tenth day of Tishri (the first month of the Jewish calendar), long before the Christian calendar was invented. These holidays do not "fall".


Nothing is more simple than to decide that every school year will start on the first of Elul (the last month of the Jewish calendar), thus enabling a full month until Rosh Hashana. A month of regular studies will replace the continuation of the indolence of the long summer vacation until the Tishri festivals end.


Certainly, pupils and teachers will be alarmed if the summer vacation is shortened. No problem! Even without a decision about the length and use of the summer vacation (this issue deserves a separate discussion), it is easy to decide that this vacation will be in the months of Tammuz and Av, which almost coincide with July-August. The hot weather of July-August is identical with that of Tammuz and Av. It is very easy to decide that the school year will last from the beginning of Elul until the end of Sivan, instead of from September 1 until the end of June.


Jewish holidays and their customs are related to the Hebrew calendar and to the seasons of the year in the Land of Israel. He who sends wishes for the New Year in these days means the New Jewish Year, namely the one that starts on the first day of Tishri, and not on September 13 and on some other date next year. A calendar has a periodic nature, and cannot be related to different dates every year for the same holidays and events. It is impossible to give significance to this fact when our calendar is being estranged.


It occurred to me recently to talk to a fourth-grade girl, born in February, on the day of Purim. That girl not only did not know the Hebrew date of her birthday, or that it is in the month of Adar; she even did not know what is Adar or any other month of the Jewish calendar. Given these circumstances, the threat of assimilation exists not only in the Diaspora, but in Israel as well.


The pioneers of Zionistic settlement in the Land of Israel were right when they renewed the customs of Jewish holidays and tied them to the seasons of the year as well as to agricultural activities: Festival of Harvest, Festival of First Fruits, Festival of Ingathering, Tu B'Shvat. This blessed idea is not complete when the related events are not published according to the Hebrew calendar (it is possible to publish the Christian date as well). Also, when the municipality of Tel Aviv invites its citizens to commemorate the fallen soldiers, it is strange to do it on April 22, thus breaking it off from the Day of Independence that follows on the fifth day of Iyar.


In these days of desperation and loss of way, it is extremely important to return to our roots, and to bring back hope and Zionism to the Land of Israel. This is an existential need, no matter if one belongs to the right or left of the political spectrum, or if one is religious or non-religious in his way of life. The Hebrew calendar is also the common denominator of Jews throughout the world that will soon start their new year. Happy New Year, a year of Hope!


The writer is a former chairman of the Professors for a Strong Israel


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