What is the appropriate way for a Jewish woman to celebrate Rosh Chodesh? I would like to start this tradition, as I have two little girls and I think that it would be wonderful to do this together.


Rosh Chodesh, the day (or days) that celebrate the arrival of the new Jewish month, has long been recognized as a woman's holiday. In the Talmud1 we read that Rosh Chodesh is a day when there is some form of work abstinence. The Talmudic commentators Rashi and Tosaphot explain that this refers to women, who traditionally celebrate Rosh Chodesh as their exclusive holiday.

Why do women merit a special holiday once a month? In the incident of the Golden Calf, the women refused to relinquish their jewelry to the men who were building the calf. They had faith in G‑d and His servant Moses, and refused to take part in the creation of the Calf. As a reward, G‑d gave them an extra holiday each month.

According to kabbalistic teachings, women share a special relationship with the moon (see The Moon and Us for more on this topic), and as such they have special reason to celebrate Rosh Chodesh, the new moon.

Exactly what types of work women abstain from on Rosh Chodesh depends on community and/or family custom. Some women don't work at all, while others simply abstain from tedious household chores, such as laundry or sewing. If you don't have a family or community custom, you can start your own!

As to how you can celebrate with your daughters: In some communities, it is customary for women to wear new clothing on Rosh Chodesh in celebration of the day's special character. Some communities have special gatherings for women, where they will learn some Torah together. They might learn together about the month ahead and its qualities or upcoming holidays, or anything related to the month and/or women. In some gatherings the women will pray together, either from the special prayers of the day, or from the book of Tehillim, Psalms.

These are all special things that you can do with your daughters as well. But the main part is making them realize that this day is a special one, especially for women, ushering in a beautiful new month.

Click here for more on Rosh Chodesh.

Chana Weisberg for