The Jewish Year explained for Kids

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 Jewish calendar showing the sequence of the months
The Jewish year, showing the sequence of the months and when each month falls in relation to the secular months.

The months of the Jewish year are:

  • Nissan
  • Iyar
  • Sivan
  • Tammuz
  • Av
  • Elul
  • Tishrei
  • Cheshvan
  • Kislev
  • Tevet
  • Sh’vat
  • Adar

When it is a leap year we add in an extra month which is called Adar Sheni or Second Adar.


Information Pages

BJE: Calendar of Upcoming Jewish Dates & Holydays

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


Elul, A Special Month

Names of the Months Word Scramble

Elul, A Time to Think

Jewish Calendar Hangman

Jewish Calendar Word Scramble

The Lunar Jewish Calendar

Months and Festivals