Shana Tova, Germany, 1904
This is a traditional Shana Tova card that was printed at the beginning of the twentieth century. The picture, drawn by a German artist, shows three Jewish men during Rosh Hashanah prayers. The men are each wearing their tallit (prayer shawl) and kittel (traditional robes). On the left is the Ba'al Tokea, the man who gives instructions to the man blowing the shofar who is in the centre of the picture. At the bottom of the picture is the text: "תקע בשופר גדול לחרותנו"— "Sound the great shofar for our freedom." At the top of the card is the phrase "לשנה טובה תכתבו" and the German translation "Gluckliches Neujahr," the traditional greeting for a Happy New Year. To the left of the picture is the card's serial number.
This Shana Tova card includes traditional designs that are relevant for the High Holy Days of Tishrei at the beginning of the Jewish New Year. The shofar, made of a ram's horn, is used specifically on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Prayer is also a very important part of these festivals, as is shown on this card. Finally, the traditional Magen David or Star of David is also part of the card’s design.
Teachers teaching Jewish Studies could present this and many other Shana Tova cards before the beginning of the Jewish New Year. Studying the different designs and motifs on the cards could offer a glimpse of Jewish life in different times and places. This specific card could demonstrate traditional aspects of the festival. In Jewish History lessons, this card, together with other items from the library, could help pupils understand more about Jewish life at the beginning of the twentieth century. Art teachers could use this and others as inspiration for students in creating cards of their own.
Describe this Shana Tova card. Who are the people in the picture? What are they doing?
What texts appear on the Shana Tova card? What do they mean?
Why do you think the designers included this picture and text on the card?
If you were to design a Shana Tova card showing Rosh Hashanah traditions, what would it look like? What text would you include on the card? Who would you send the card to?