Rosh Hashanah Greeting,
Yeshiva University Archives
Central Relief Committee Collection, 129/1

This colorful greeting for Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, was published by the “Defus Even A.L. Monzon” press in Jerusalem in the 1920s. “Defus Even,” stone print, is the Hebrew term for lithography, a specialty of the Monzons. A famed and historic printing house in Jerusalem, the press was founded in 1892 by the brothers Avrom Leyb and Moshe Mordechai Monzon, who had traveled from Jerusalem to Frankfurt in 1890 to study lithography.

The Monzon press chose images of Jerusalem to illustrate this greeting: “Har Habayit,” the site where the Bet Mikdash, the Holy Temple had stood prior to its destruction, is identified by the Dome of the Rock mosque which sits in that sacred space, a visual cue explaining why so many images of the Temple portray it as capped by a kipah, a dome. Next to the dome on the upper left are the walls, rooftops, and minaret (possibly a view of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in the lit area, and the western wall of the Temple Mount in shadow) of the holy city of Zion, and the bottom right depicts people at prayer at the Western Wall. Above the dome, two birds appear to glide in from heaven above, bearing glad tidings of a year of life and blessing.

The greeting may have also served as a Sukkah decoration; note the lulav (palm branch) and etrog (citron), symbols of the Sukkot holiday; they rest on a wicker basket, perhaps a nod to the baskets pilgrims used to bring the bikurim, the first fruits, to the Temple on Shavuot. The lulav points to a palm tree. This particular New Year greeting was sent to Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, a representative of the Central Relief Committee in New York. The name Teitelbaum means a date palm tree.

The central text is in two languages, Hebrew and Yiddish, wishing the recipient traditional New Year blessings of ‘ketivah va-hatimah tovah,” to be written and inscribed for a good year, a year of joy, happiness, prosperity, and good health.

Green vines and grass adorn the greeting, perhaps indicating the growth and renewal of the city of Jerusalem which was taking place at the time, perhaps indicative of hope for life and health in the New Year.

May the hope for good health be realized in the coming year, 5781, the Hebrew year תשא”פ, which may be read as a year of inhaling freely, of taking a deep breath, (לשאוף אויר) a blessing to be truly appreciated in the time of Covid.

May 5781 be a year of health and happiness for all.


Posted by Shulamith Z. Berger


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