The Jewish calendar is different to the one we use in Australia (called the ‘secular calendar’ or ‘common calendar’). The secular calendar is based on the earth going around the sun and the Jewish calendar is based on the moon going around the earth. That is why we also call it the ‘lunar’ calendar (the word ‘lunar’ tells us it has something to do with the moon). The lunar year has 354 days and the secular year has 365 days. By adding an extra month in the lunar year (on a leap year), the lunar calendar matches the secular one.
The names of the Jewish calendar’s months are all in Hebrew and come from the Babylonian calendar, from a very long time ago. The first Jewish calendar was written by a man named Hillel II.
The first month of the Jewish calendar is called ‘Nissan’ which is in the Israeli spring. The Jewish New Year, however is in Tishrei (which is the seventh month). This is not so strange: think about how the Australian new year begins in January, but the Chinese new year begins a month or two later. So, the Jewish calendar has different starting points for different reasons.
The beginning day/s of each month are very important in the Jewish calendar. We call these days ‘new moon’ days. They are called ‘Rosh Chodesh’ (‘Head of the Month’) in Hebrew. On the Saturdays before the beginning of the new month, and on the actual days of the new month, we say special prayers.
The months of the Jewish year are:
When it is a leap year we add in an extra month which is called Adar Sheni or Second Adar.
LINKS TO OTHER PAGES ABOUT THE JEWISH YEAR / CALENDAR
Akhlah: Hebrew (Jewish) Calendar
Akhlah: Jewish Holidays (lists the Jewish date of every Jewish holiday)
Chabad: Jewish / Civil Date Converter
Torah Tots: The Jewish Calendar
Activities for Children