This is a Rosh Hashana greeting card shows the circle of life in which a character appears in ten stages of his life. The cycle of life begins in the bottom right corner with a baby sitting in a cradle, followed by a toddler taking his first steps at the age of two, a three-year-old boy riding a tricycle, a six year old ready for school, a thirteen-year-old celebrating his Bar Mitzva, twenty years old standing under the wedding canopy with his bride. The next in line are a 30 year old man with a young family, an aristocratic looking 50 year old, a 70 year old bent over with a walking stick and finally a 90 year old with his (great?) grandson. Underneath the figure at each stage is written his current age and the word "Jahr" - years in Yiddish.
The inscription at the top of the postcard reads "Happy New Year" in Hebrew, and "Happy New Year" in English. The postcard was produced in 1910 in New York as part of a series of greetings cards designed for the different festivals. The postcard provides insights to the lives of the Jewish community in the United States at the time. It is possible to assume that this card served Jews that originally came from Eastern Europe, due to the fact that most of the texts are written in Yiddish in Hebrew letters, and not in English. The fine dress of the figures in the images seem to be affluent, presumably not "fresh-off-the-boat" immigrants. They might represent the second or third generation integrated American Jews or they have been included in the design as inspiration for the newer immigrant's inspiration. It is also interesting to compare this postcard of the Jewish immigrants in the United States to those who immigrated to Israel. The immigrants to Israel were usually young individuals and many postcards from Israel at the time show young, strong pioneers farming the land. This postcard, however, focuses on the family in the life circle, with children, parents and even grandparent. This is typical of the Jewish immigration to the States at the beginning of the twentieth century was one of entire family groups.
It is also interesting to see the ages that the different life cycle events occurred one hundred years ago and to compare them to the convention of today. From this card, it seems that the common age for marriage is twenty and it was typical of a Jewish couple to have three children by the age of thirty. The card shows that at the age of six, children (boys?) went to school like in many countries today. However, traditionally boys would start learning the Hebrew alphabet at the age of five, as cited in the Mishna "At five years old [one is fit] for the [study of] Scripture… "(Avot 5:21), and many children in Eastern Europe started the cheder (traditional elementary school) at the age of three.
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Connection to Parashat Tazriah
At the start of Parashat Tazriah, the Torah discusses women after childbirth. The importance of families and children is stressed throughout the Torah, with particular reference to women, such as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Hanna who struggled to conceive children.