Each year, as the new Jewish calendars come off the press, they signal a rediscovery of our people’s history, art and spirit. While reminding us of the important dates, in the Jewish year, these calendars take us on a 12-month odyssey, into the amazing world of Jewish culture..
The following l6-month calendars provide us with weekly Torah Readings, dates of Jewish holidays, and candle lighting times for major cities throughout the continent.
Pomegranate publishers, have two charming calendars this year. The Jewish Museum Calendar (with works from the Jewish Museum in New York) is graced with images of art works and paintings whose provenance is from many lands, and from many eras of Jewish history. Included too are contemporary works of art.
These works communicate the aesthetic values and spirit of their creators, enriching our understanding and appreciation of the Jewish experience through the ages.
There is a Marriage Contract from Isfahan, Persia (l879), a Chanukah Lamp from Eastern Galicia (l8th century), and a painting by C.W. Eckersberg, Joseph’s Brothers Bring His Coat to Jacob (l811).
Among the more recent pieces illustrated is a painting by Arthur Szyk, Jewish Sailors Exporting Polish Products Through the Port of Danzig (l927); an avant-garde rendering of an image from a verse in the Had Gadya Suite, by Russian artist, El Lissitzky, which is engraved both in the Yiddish, and Aramaic languages (1919), and paintings by Melissa Meyer (l992), Jack Levine (l938), as well as Dana Frankfort (2007)..
Pomegranate’s second wall calendar, Jewish Celebrations, with paintings by Malcah Zeldis, features joyful, colorful illustrations of such holidays as Chanukah, Rosh Hashanah, Purim and Pesach. There is also the celebration of Shabbat, of a wedding, and Bar and Bat Mitzvah in the brilliant paintings of this family-oriented calendar.
Each of these images comes with explanatory notes, or commentaries, regarding its history and the customs that it represents..
Universe Publishing has both a wall calendar and a desk calendar for the year 5774. Aside from listing all Jewish and national holidays, Torah readings, and candle lighting times, the wall calendar lists Jewish holidays through the year 2027 as well.
Its beautiful illustrations cover treasures from the Collection of the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. In this collection there are lovely paintings, such as the Portrait of a Woman, by Maijer de Haan of Amsterdam (1882), or the poignant gouache by Charlotte Solomon, The Wedding of Franziska Knarre and Albert Kaan (l940-42).
Among the striking silver ceremonial objects in this calendar (from countries such as the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Russia and Poland), two ultra-modern pieces are of special note. The first is an impressive silver Havdalah set, whose curved lines reflect some of today’s modern architectural structures, by Yaakov Greenvurcel, Jerusalem (l981). The other is a Lulav Stand, by Zelig Segal, of Jerusalem (l983). Etrog holders are common, but lulav stands are less so.
The Jewish Calendar for the desk, from Universe, can serve as an excellent quick reference for navigating one’s way, all year, through the many Jewish holidays, feast days, fast days, and other significant dates such as Rosh Chodesh, each new month, and the counting of the Omer. This calendar also lists the weekly readings from the prophets, along with the Torah readings.
Its unique spreadsheet guide contains columns such as the Theme, Historical Significance, Seasonal Significance, Mood, and Selected Customs of each of the holidays listed..
In addition to all the above features of this desk calendar, its illustrations depict magnificent objects that will please the eye throughout the year. Such is the unique silver Torah Shield from Rhodes, Greece (l859-l860); Ilya Schor’s Mezuzah Case (l960) and a stunning silk Tefillin Bag from l8th-century Italy. One of the unusual illustrations here is a photograph of a pair of Mikveh Shoe’, from the Ottoman Empire (c. l9l0).
All the above items are part of the collection of the Jewish Museum in New York.
One of the most interesting Jewish calendars on the market is My Very Own Jewish Calendar by Judyth Groner and Madeline Wikler (Kar-Ben Publishing). This calendar cum compendium of trivia, anecdotes, stories, historical data, and recipes has been delighting youngsters, and the young at heart, for many years. It always manages to inform and inspire with its lively celebration of Jewish life and traditions throughout the world.
Right from the first Hebrew month, Tishri, one is greeted with a quote from the Talmud, and a data-filled account of the significance of the pomegranate fruit, so ubiquitous during this time of year – its etymologival, historical, biblical, kabbalistic and nutritional significance – all in one compact paragraph. Of course, the recipe of the month cannot include anything other than a pomegranate.
Other very simple, interesting recipes are Injera, Ethiopian bread; a Tu BiShvat Fruit Fondue; a Purim taste change in the form of Pizza Taschen. A calendar page on the Jews of India gives an easy recipe for Chicken Curry.
An entry about the world’s largest kosher barbecue event, the Kosher BBQ Contest and Festival in Memphis, Tennessee, provides a BBQ Sauce recipe that even kids can put together.
The calendar has various environmental and community entries, with great ideas that kids, and adults, can implement in their own cities and neighborhoods. Among the community projects covered here is Leket, Israel’s food bank and rescue effort, which involves thousands of volunteers, and even has a Nighttime Food Rescue program.
Who knew that Jews were involved in the art of chocolate making since their sojourn in Spain? After the expuldion from Spain they brought this art to France, Belgium and other European countries. By l832 it was a young Jewish apprentice chef, Franz Sacher, who created Vienna’s world famous Sacher Torte. An E-Z Sacher Torte recipe is part of this calendar.
Keeping up with the times the calendar has a Regifting entry, where websites are presented for youngsters, and adults, to donate gently-used toys, clothing, and cell phones,
This calendar also has candle lighting times for the major cities on the continent, and a five-year listing of Jewish holidays.