Community Blog Rosh Hodesh Manuscript

By Deborah Feinstein
Rosh Hodesh artwork

Above: “Rosh Hodesh” by Deb Feinstein (on green background)

The festival for the full moon is symbolized in a full circle, and the full moon is shinning in the top center. The monthly movements of the moon are shadowed in the moon itself, while the Cloak of Glory shelters the moon and everything around it. The presence of God is enveloping the whole manuscript.

The column with iconic rams horns is a resting place for the moon, as this column is reminiscent of the Rambam’s column referred to in his Guide to the Perplexed. Also, in Bavli Yoma 28b –  “the Moon lights its way like a column that rises straight like a rod.” Arrows shoot up to the moon, referring to a sages words in  Hab.3:11, “When the moon visits the Holy One, her eyes are dim, the Holy One sets out arrows of light to find its way—a glittering spear. Tale of the moon and arrows of light.”

In the center plate there are two texts: one of Psalm 8:10 and a tehkhineh from A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book edited by Aliza Lavie. The tehkhineh is written by Rabbanit Sheril Horowitz, born in 1715: “and bring using this month gladness and joy. Therefore, may You renew this month for us for goodness. Amen, so may it be His will.”

And in Psalm 8:10, we are in awe of His Name and His greatness: “Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name through out the earth!”

Below is the city of Jerusalem, shining as the moon—a reincarnation of the city of old and is to come.

Around the circle is the Psalm 104 (1-24) in Hebrew and English. This Psalm is the one that is used in many of the ceremonies for Rosh Hodesh:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul; 

Oh Lord, my God, You are very great; You are clothed in Glory and majesty, wrapped in a robe of light… He made the moon to mark the seasons 

The sun knows when to set… 

How many are the things You have made, O Lord; you have made them all with wisdom 

The earth is full of your creations.”  

In many interpretations of this Psalm as well as the festival itself the holiday is symbolic of creation. Therefore, within the circle, I have storied creation. First the stars—six on each side, shine and refer to the 12 tribes. Also, the Jewish calendar is 12 lunar months.

Rosh Hodesh artwork by Deb Feinstein

On the left side, there are trees in darkness and birds in the sky. Grazing animals dot the pastures. The night is beginning to fall. The land and light are being born.

On the left, Mount Sinai with the idol of the ram stands at its foot (There is a midrash, too, that women received this holiday because Aaron and his men asked for gold to make the Golden Calf, and the women kept quiet. ) Revelation and betrayal at one moment, but as the rainbow graces the sky, forgiveness from God is present. The dawn is rising—a new day.

Below are the teaming waters with fish, large sea creatures, and water birds. The sea is full and foaming. It is also symbolic of a mikvah, a cleansing force in life. Also, water is a main ingredient of all life, as is our connection to God.

In the center are Matisse-like women dancing in the circle. Some of their feet reach out into the circle of Hebrew letters. There is a candle burning in the center, reaching up to the moon. Their movement in a circle is the perpetual movement of life, circling and circling—the calendar’s cycle of life and seasons, birthing and dying- birthing and creation. God is present.


Call for Art Entries

Remember, Renew, Reimagine: Hebrew College at 100

Hebrew College is mounting an exhibition in celebration of its centennial year, entitled Remember, Renew, Reimagine.

In keeping with the mission of the school: Reimagining Jewish Learning and Leadership for an Interconnected World, this exhibition will be centered on Torah, reflecting a variety of inspirations from its teaching, traditions and rituals. Integrating Hebrew College’s permanent collection in this exhibition will be part of this process of honoring the past, rejoicing in the present, and envisioning the future.

Artists are invited to submit works in a variety of media.  The curators will select works that demonstrate how artists in the Hebrew College community are actively Remembering, Renewing and Reimagining the tradition through the visual arts (2D and 3D), poetry, music and performances.

The exhibition will be presented in the Cutler Atrium of the College from April 1 to June 15, 2022. A variety of related programs will be offered throughout the length of the exhibit.  All framing, video equipment, and auditory accessories will be provided by the artist. Artist is responsible for all shipping costs to and from Hebrew College. All insurance is covered by the artist.

Submission Requirements

A digitized file of your work of art labeled in the following manner: Last Name, First Name, Name of Artwork

  • Dimensions of the media
  • Description of the media
  • A short (100 words) Artist’s statement about the work.
  • A brief description of how the Artist is connected to Hebrew College and its programs.

Deadline for submission

Please submit works by FEBRUARY 1, 2022 to arts@hebrewcollege.edu

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