The religious observances of Judaism rely on the lunar calendar and the monthly arrival of a new moon is an occasion for special prayers and celebration. Rosh Chodesh, Hebrew for “head of the month”, is the monthly holiday that celebrates the arrival of the new moon, marking the start of a new month on the Jewish calendar. With this new moon we usher in Cheshvan.
Cheshvan , also known as Marcheshvan or Heshvan, is the second month of the civil year and eight month on the Hebrew calendar. Unlike the month prior (Tishrei) with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippor and Sukkot, or the following month (Kislev) with Chanukah, the month of Cheshvan is the only month on the Hebrew calendar in which there are no holidays or commemorations. During Cheshvan, we read the weekly portion of Va’yera, in which Abraham and Sarah extend hospitality to three strangers that are revealed to be angels in human form. This is the basis for the Jewish tradition of Hachnasat Orkim; welcoming guests and generosity to strangers.
Tishrei was a time to look within and self growth. Cheshvan is a time to look outward, welcome guests and engage in acts of tz’dakah (charity) and g’milut hesed (bestowing kindness). Whether helping to serve a Thanksgiving meal in a food shelter, volunteering in a hospital or contributing to community causes, we have innumerable opportunities as Jews, both individually and communally, to reach out to each other and make the world a better place. To paraphrase the lyrics of Belinda Carlisle, let’s “make Heaven a place on Earth”.
As the secular calendar turns from October to November and the Hebrew calendar turns from Tishrei to Cheshvan, the Florida Region of FJMC wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving.
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