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How Do Jews Celebrate Birthdays?

How Do Jews Celebrate Birthdays?

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Questions:

Is there a Jewish way for me to celebrate my birthday?

Answer:

Sure, there's a Jewish way for everything!

Here are some ideas (culled from the teachings of the Rebbe):

Note: All these suggestions should be implemented on your Jewish birthday. Use our Jewish/Civil Date Converter to find out when your Jewish birthday is.

  • Giving charity should be a daily event. On your special day increase the amount of your contribution, especially before the day's morning and afternoon prayers. If your birthday falls on Shabbat or a Jewish holiday when handling money is forbidden, give the added charity beforehand and afterwards.

  • Spend some extra time praying, focusing on meditating and concentrating on the words of the prayers.

  • Say as many Psalms as possible. Ideally you should complete at least one of its five books (Psalms is divided into five books).

  • Study the Psalm which corresponds to your new year. This is your age plus one -- e.g. Psalm 25 if this is your 24th birthday. Click here to study it online. This is also the Psalm which you should try to say daily until your next birthday.

  • Take some time out to contemplate on your past year. Consider which areas require improvement, and resolve to do so.

  • Learn some extra Torah on this day.

  • Study a Chassidic idea and repeat it at a gathering in honor of your birthday. Follow the following links for Short Insights, or some Essays.

  • Partake of a new fruit which you did not yet taste during this season and recite the Shehecheyanu blessing.

  • Take the time to teach another something about Torah and Judaism.

  • Commit yourself to doing a particular good deed. Choose something practical and doable! Click here for some ideas.

  • Men and boys over the age of thirteen: On the Shabbat beforehand, get an aliyah in the synagogue. If the birthday falls on a day when the Torah is read, be sure to receive an aliyah on that day too.

Click here for more information on birthdays.

Have a happy and meaningful birthday!

Dovid Zaklikowski is a freelance journalist living in Brooklyn. Dovid and his wife Chana Raizel are the proud parents of four: Motti, Meir, Shaina & Moshe Binyomin.
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Chaim Vogel Montreal April 26, 2017

The Rebbe was the one who launched the birthday campaign, a man so against being negatively influenced by the secular world, he said that just as gold was improperly used at first [the golden calf], doesn't make it a bad thing as we see it was used for the Holy Temple, so too with birthdays and many things for that matter, which have the potential to be used for good and holiness, as you see, the way we celebrate the birthday is in stark contrast to the way it is done in the secular world, for us it's another opportunity to strengthen our commitment to serving G-d, so necessary in our times! Reply

Anonymous October 9, 2016

The biblical and historic point of view of celebrating birthdays The Hebrew scriptures never refers to a servant of the true God celebrating a birthday. The first century Jewish historian Josephus noted that Jewish families did not celebrate birthdays. Birthday celebrations have pagan roots. The traditional birthday cake and candles also have their origin in ancient pagan idol worship. There is only a single reference to a birthday in the Hebrew scriptures: “And it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday that he made a feast unto all his servants” (Genesis 40:20). In summary, celebrating your birthday is accepting its pagan origins; celebrating it is the same as in how the Egyptians celebrated their idolized pharaoh's birthday; when you ancestors were under pagan egyptian bondage. Read Exodus 12:40-42. Just like Isreal left Egypt, you must also leave (or not celebrate) birthdays; do not become complacent and be influenced by the world. Reply

Shoshana Jerusalem , Israel April 10, 2010

birthdays I go to the Kotel (Western Wall) on my birthday, to thank G-d for the past year and ask Him for many more. Reply

Marcia Naomi Berger, LCSW San Rafael, USA September 14, 2009

birthdays I followed the Rebbe's teaching to host a gathering of friends on my birthday. Eight of us women enjoyed a meal and discussion that I believe touched us all.

We went around the table reading about birthdays from Simon Jacobson's book of the Rebbe's teachings, "A Meaningful LIfe." I talked about my mission and everyone had a chance to discuss theirs. I blessed each of my friends in accordingly.

Before the gathering I'd been feeling a bit low about my advancing age, but after it I felt optimistic, warm, glad to be alive and valued by my dear friends.. Reply

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