Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

The New York Public Library will be closed on Sunday, April 20.

Happy New Year, Circa 1910: Pop-up Greeting Cards in the Jewish Division

Share

If you visit your local stationery store in September, you may well find a small selection of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) cards. The cards will probably have the standard Hebrew greeting for the new year, Le-shanah tovah tikatevu (literally, "May you be inscribed for a good year"). They may be serious, as befits a greeting card for the "Days of Awe," or light-hearted. (I saw one recently that showed a man asking his neighbor, "How's your New Year going?" Answer: "Shofar, so good").  It's a safe bet, though, that you won't find anything as elaborate, charming and, yes, kitschy as the Rosh Hashanah cards in the Dorot Jewish Division.

These cards, originally housed in the Library's Picture Collection, were created about a century ago. Although intended for an English-speaking audience, the cards were actually printed in Germany. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the finest postcards, greeting cards and movable books were made in Germany, where artisans had perfected the craft of color printing.

The cards offer an idyllic view of late-Victorian Jewish life. For example, this scene...

...opens up onto this scene:

Within the golden doors, a bride and groom stand under the chuppah, or bridal canopy: 

A young Jewish woman waves a banner heralding the New Year; on her sash are the Hebrew words "Bat-Tsiyon" ("Daughter of Zion"):

Elsewhere, another "Daughter of Zion" celebrates the New Year:

Some cards depict the Jewish life cycle, with the German phrase "Von Stufe zu Stufe" ("Step by step") inscribed over a brilliant sun. Perhaps the German printers forgot to change this label for their English-language cards; or possibly they knew that the givers and receivers of these cards might be prosperous English-speaking Jews of German ancestry who would still know German. Notice that the life cycle--babyhood, bar mitzvah, marriage, fatherhood, old age--is depicted from right to left, like the Hebrew language:

Jews often wish each other a "sweet" year at Rosh Hashanah. What could be sweeter than these New Year cards? 

Comments

Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Jewish New Year Cards

AS a historian and educator I find these refreshing and very attractive. And as a human being I love them all! Jane Steele,MA Educator

Jewish New Year Cards

Thanks for your kind words! I love these cards. - Roberta

Delightful!

These are so much better than the Rosh Hashanah cards you can get now. You should reprint them for the book store.

Delightful!

That's such a great idea! I'll see what we can do about reprinting them for next year. - Roberta

old jewish new year cards

I'm interested in buying old jewish new year cards,& wanted to know whether the above cards shown are originals,& if so,are they for sale? Thank You R.

Old Jewish New Years Cards

Hi - if you are still interested in buying old Jewish New Years cards, please email me at: LoriJF2@aol.com Thank you.

Post new comment