Download Full Text (344 KB)
Front: White card with black Hebrew text on upper left, black English text on upper right. Illustration of man with white and blue tallis, black cap and grey beard writing on a scroll with a quill pen on a table with blue and white table cloth and candle. Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: The custom of sending Jewish New Year’s cards dates to the Middle Ages. Shana Tova, meaning “Have a good year” in Hebrew, reflects the belief that one’s fate is sealed for the coming year on Rosh Hashanah, and thus Rabbis would encourage congregants to begin letters sent during the Jewish month of Ellul with the blessing “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year”. The custom has continued over the years even as the thematic content of the Shana Tova card has changed to reflect changing social and historical needs and circumstances. If early cards reflected biblical themes and motifs, later ones referred to religious customs and practices often staged in a studio using amateur actors. Later scenes depicted the religious and social life of East European Jews in a nostalgic manner, often with the intention of preserving traditions, customs and social life lost in the Holocaust. With the mass immigration of Jews to the shores of America in the first decades of the twentieth century, Shana Tova cards depicted the new homeland as a beacon of hope, prosperity, and religious freedom. Other cards focused on Zionist ideology and contemporary views of the land of Palestine. Secular views were more commonly expressed in Shana Tova cards, with images of pioneers working the land and building kibbutzim. With World War II there is the obvious focus on Jewish immigration, of refugees fleeing a Europe devastated by the Holocaust, with ships and boats bringing in immigrants to the shores of a Palestine still under the British mandate. We see as well the burgeoning of an enormous pride that reflects a people at last feeling in more control of their fate, not only raising families and celebrating holidays but images of an intense self-reliance, images of the “tough” Jew hardened by working the land, raising a defense force with both men and women as co-participants, as well as scenes depicting Israelis in a celebratory mood, dancing the hora, or singing Hatikvah.
2 1/4 x 4"
Shana Tova, New Year, Pen and Quill, Rosh Hashanah
"Shana Tova [Happy New Year's]" (2015). Bulmash Family Holocaust Collection. 2015.2.39.