Shana Tova card, 1900
This is a Shana Tova card that was printed in colour at the beginning of the twentieth century. The card shows a candle lighting scene in a Jewish home. In the picture you can see parents (or maybe grandparents) and three children, all dressed in traditional Jewish garb. The family are all watching the father as he lights candles in a Hanukiah (menorah) next to the window.
This image is somewhat puzzling – what is a scene from the festival of Hanukkah doing on a Shana Tova card? This choice of an image from a festival that occurs in the winter seems very out of place on a Shana Tova card sent in the autumn.
Reading the text on the right of the postcard only adds to the confusion. The traditional New Year greeting appears beneath the words "שלחנוכה נר להדליק" – "Of Hanukkah a candle to light." The Hebrew words seem to have been mixed up.
We can only guess about the reason for this mix-up, but it is possible that the card was printed by non-Jewish printers who couldn't read Hebrew and just copied a bunch of unclear letters. Likewise, they may have been looking for a Jewish family scene and found this nice Hanukkah scene without realizing its incongruity. Who knows? Whatever the reason, it is definitely an interesting Shana Tova card!
This fascinating Shana Tova card could be a trigger to many interesting discussions. An exploration of the images and the texts could provide insight into the Jewish world at the beginning of the twentieth century in Jewish History lessons. In Jewish Studies lessons, this card could be presented before either Rosh Hashanah or Hanukkah. In Hebrew lessons, teachers could discuss the puzzling Hebrew text on the card.
What scene appears on the card? At what time during the year do you think this scene could have taken place?
What is the purpose of the card? At what time during the year do you think this card was intended to have been sent?
Did you find any contradictions between your answers?
Why do you think the printers added this scene to a Shana Tova card?
What images do you think would be more relevant?
What is written on the right of the card?Can you find any mistakes or mix-ups?
What do you think about the faces of the Jewish family? Do you think they portray actual Jewish people? Or do they represent a more stereotypical picture of how Jewish people look?
Design a Shana Tova card with a scene of a Jewish family. What will you draw? Why?