This is a postcard from the early 1900s that includes a poem entitled, “The Evening After Yom Kippur.” The postcard features a Yiddish poem in an ornamented frame with scenery in the background. The poem describes a family at the end of the 25-hour Yom Kippur fast. The narrator, a child, begins by expressing relief that the services have ended with the reciting of the Aleynu prayer and the fast is over. The congregation has prayed with intensity and now feels emotionally depleted, running home to break the fast. This is a time of joy, the scene at the synagogue is serene with the light of a full moon washing over the courtyard. The special ceremony to sanctify the New Moon ceremony (Kiddush Levana) is taking place. The child is anxious to go home to eat the delicious baked goods that the mother has baked, but the father is still lingering at the synagogue. The father urges the child to go home and break the fast, since it is more difficult for children to fast than adults. The father will stay at the synagogue to recite the evening (Ma’ariv) service and the blessing for the New Moon. The poem concludes with the father reminding the child that on his return they will begin to build the sukkah for the upcoming Sukkot holiday, as tradition demands. After the words of the poem the name Yoash, probably the name of the author, is written also in Yiddish.
At the bottom of the poem “Happy New Year” is written in both Hebrew and English. In between the two texts stands a barefoot figure dressed in a blue garment, holding a harp in one hand and pointing upwards with the other. This might represent King David, who is often depicted with a harp. In the background is a desert scene showing a pyramid, a river, a palm tree on the left-hand side, and a man in traditional Arab clothing riding a camel in front of large rock formations on the right-hand side. Two flags, one American and the other of the Magen David, now the Israeli flag, form a canopy over the poem. Connecting the two flags is a Magen David with the word “Zion” written inside in Hebrew. Hanging from the bottom of the frame are clusters of grapes, a fig, and a pomegranate, symbols of the Land of Israel. In the bottom left-hand corner are the words “Hebrew Publishing Co., NY,” indicating that the postcard was published in the United States.
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Yom Kippur – Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the Jewish year. The date of Yom Kippur is 10 Tishrei, and it marks the end of the ten-day period beginning with Rosh Hashanah which is called the High Holy Days and the Ten Days of Repentance. According to tradition, God evaluates each person’s life and writes their name in either the Book of Life or the Book of Death during the Ten Days of Repentance; on Yom Kippur, the books are sealed. While reflection and prayer take place throughout the ten days, Yom Kippur is the most solemn day, and it is traditional to pray, fast, and refrain from bathing and wearing leather shoes. It is also traditional to give tzedakah (charity), during this time period. Another unusual custom is wearing a tallit for all of the prayers, when it is usually only worn during the day, and in some communities men wear a special white robe named a kittel. There are five services on Yom Kippur, beginning with the Kol Nidrei prayer and the Maariv service in the evening. Prayers are resumed the following day with Shacharit (morning service) and the Musaf (additional service) which includes a description of the special ceremonies that took place in the Temple on Yom Kippur. Later in the day is the Mincha service, during which the Book of Jonah is read, and the day comes to close with the Neilah service, considered to be the final opportunity to ask God to be written in the Book of Life, which ends with the congregation saying the Shema and the blowing of the shofar.
Kiddush Levana – Kiddush Levana is a short prayer service that is recited once a month, after the sighting of the New Moon. Kiddush Levana is usually conducted outside in the moonlight. The moon must be visible, so it is not said on a cloudy night. The custom is based on the Talmud (Sanhedrin 42a):
Rabbi Yoḥanan says: With regard to anyone who blesses the new month in its proper time, it is as if he greets the Face of the Divine Presence. Alluding to this, it is written here concerning the sanctification of the new month: “This month shall be for you the beginning of months” (Exodus 12:2).