In Israel, keep the Gregorian Calendar but bring back to wider use the Hebrew Calendar and reinstate some of our Jewish pride

As an Israeli Jew,I am not one to celebrate  the “Civil New Year,” also known in Israel as “Sylvester.” I do not observe it not because  “Sylvester “is named after a fourth-century pope and a saint, who died on December 31 and known to be ferociously anti-semitic. The reason I do not celebrate it is because as a Jew, observing one New Year, the Jewish one and a more meaningful one, is enough for me. Make no mistake, I use the Gregorian Calendar regularly, as many here  do, and follow it almost devotedly. All my meetings, all my appointments, friends and family members’ birthdays and anniversaries are marked in it,   remembered and observed according to it

Despite my extensive use of the “civil” calendar and my intention to continue to use it, I sometimes, and more often in recent years, deeply miss using, more regularly, our very own Hebrew Calendar, a calendar that marks a very important milestone not only in the history of my Jewish people but in that of mankind as well. I am proud of that contribution

In the last few months, a dear friend of mine, Michal Dar – El, has made it her habit to post the Hebrew date every day of the week, except for Shabbat, on her Face Book page. What a refreshing idea and a great reminder of our wonderful millennia old tradition. It brought back memories of my growing up in the early years of the Jewish state when my teachers used to put on the blackboard the Hebrew dates. Unfortunately, in the last fifty some years, usage of the Hebrew Calendar, by many, has steadily declined in favor of the Gregorian Calendar

 The Hebrew Calendar, which traces its origins to the Babylonian Lunar Calendar, is also known as lunisolar calendar. It is the only calendar that compromises between the moon cycles and the months, long abandoned by the Gregorian Calendar. It realigns the lunar calendar with the solar years. This adjustment is of prime importance as the seasons which are determined by the sun affect farming and agricultural practices.  It is noteworthy to mention that early Zionist pioneers were impressed by the fact that the calendar preserved by Jews over many centuries in far-flung diasporas, as a matter of religious ritual, was geared to the climate of their original country; the Jewish New Year marks the transition from the dry season to the rainy one, and major  Jewish holidays such as Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot along with minor ones likes Tu B’shvat correspond to major points of the country’s agricultural year such as planting and harvest

 It is certainly not my intention to delve into the detailed configuration of how our wise sages cleverly calculated and worked out such complicated mathematical and astrological conceptions. I do not understand them and I doubt many do

It is, however, my deep desire, to see greater and more widespread use of the Hebrew Calendar in Israel, the home of the Jewish people. After all, all our holidays, Biblical and modern day ones are fixed according to the Hebrew Calendar dates. For me, it is also a great source of pride to know that our Jewish culture, more accurately our Jewish civilization, was able to produce such an ingeniously sophisticated Calendar that is not only ancient but also known for its great  accuracy both in the past and for the predictable future

 It should be a great source of pride to all Jews. And Israel, for needs to one, desperately needs to restore its Jewish pride.

Adhering to and following our very own Hebrew Calendar more closely is but one of many ways to bring back some of it back

And while we are on the subject of Jewish pride, let me ask you this, what is wrong with Hebrew names? Why is it that so many Israeli parents seek to be cosmopolitan by giving their children names borrowed from other cultures and other languages? I have seen parents name their children after Greek gods, Babylonian goddesses and what not

 Hebrew names all have meanings, ones that are anchored in our beautiful Jewish tradition. And what could be a greater source of pride for anyone than bearing a name that has a meaning  and through it connects them to their people’s past, present and future

There are a whole host of other very serious issues that relate to restoring our Jewish pride which we, Israelis, seem to have lost

But that is the topic for another article altogether

About the Author
Bat-Zion Susskind-Sacks is an English teacher and a pro Israel advocate. She lives in Israel and has recently published her first novel, "On A Wing From The Holy Land."