Rabbi’s February 2024 Column

Shalom All,

This year is a leap year. In fact, it’s a double leap year (though I doubt anyone calls it that). What I mean is, this year we are adding an extra day on our secular calendar (February 29th) and an extra month to our Jewish calendar (Adar II). The reason we add a day to our secular calendar is easily explained by science (I’m sure you all remember it from school). The secular calendar is a solar calendar. It takes about 365 and a quarter days for the earth to complete one cycle around the Sun, but the normal calendar only counts 365 days. So, once every four years we add one day to even it out.

The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar. It takes about 28 and a half days for the moon to complete one cycle around the earth. So one lunar month typically has 28 days and the next one 29. But the 12 lunar months of the Hebrew Calendar only adds up to 342 days, that’s 13 days shy of a secular year. Therefore, we add an entire month at the end of winter, when necessary, so the Passover remains a Spring holiday. This ultimately happens 7 times every 19 years.

What is means for us today, is that, even though Tu B’shvat was well over a week ago (by the time you read this), Purim, which would normally be just one month later, won’t actually occur until the end of March. This, in turn, pushes every Jewish holiday late this year. Rosh Hashanah is the very end of September. Yom Kippur is during the second week of October. Chanukah starts on the night of December 24th and ends on New Year’s Day 2025.

It also means that we have 2 long, cold months, with no holiday distractions. But fear not, we are filling that time with a new book study. I wrote about it briefly, last month, but we’ve decided to change the day and time we are meeting. We are still reading Communities of Meaning: Conversations on Modern Jewish Life Inspired by Rabbi Larry Hoffman. But we’ve decided to meet every other Sunday at noon, following Religious School, starting on February 25th. This way we can meet in-person, have a little nosh together, and talk about the future of Judaism, American Jewish Life, and the Synagogue. The book is available where ever you get your books. I’m also happy to send you the first section we are discussing if you’d like to sample it, first. Just let me know.

Here’s to a wonderful New Year.
May it be a happy, healthy, and sweet year for us all.

Rabbi Todd