Ok, so with the recent posts of my Jewish cards on my gallery - I've had a lot of PM's and comments about Jewish Cards... so here's something I decided to put together about Jewish Card Making 101
I am Jewish, yes - but I am not as well versed in Judiasm as I would like to be. I am learning, and part of my learning process is through my artwork and crafts.
Jewish stamps are HARD to find. SU has a few sets, CTMH as well. There are 3 stamp companies online that I can think of that have a large selection of Jewish stamps (not sure if I could post the links here or not and if it's against the rules). There are also the "stragglers" from many other lines like Inkadinkado, Stampendous, Double D, etc.. many are no longer made and are hard to find and have to usually be bought online through auctions.
Contrary to belief, Hanukkah is not the biggest card-giving celebration in the Jewish holidays. I could be wrong about this, but it almost seems that more interfaith families give Hanukkah cards than non-interfaiths - but I have no statistics to proove that, just an observation.
There are a few main holidays if you feel the need to give cards, and I'll outline them here. Feel free to add on posts as needed with your comments.
Rosh Hashana - The Jewish New Year:
Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." The common greeting at this time is L'shanah tovah ("for a good year"). This is a shortening of "L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem" (or to women, "L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi"), which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year." A popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh (or known as "casting off"). We walk to a flowing water supply, such as a creek or river on the afternoon of the first day and empty our pockets into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. Another practice is to eat apples dipped in honey to symbolize our wish for a sweet new year.
This is usually the time of year that we give cards rather than the winter holiday season. To give you some examples of cards for Rosh Hashanna, you can stamp using Apples, Honey, Bees, Beehives, water/river scenes, star of davids - just to give you a few to start with. So some SU stamp sets would be the Decorative Country Apple to give you an example.
Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights -
This is another time of year that cards are given, but probably not as frequently as you think. Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of rededication, also known as the festival of lights, is an eight day festival beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev (which means that it is NOT on the same day every year - make sure to check your calendars). Hanukkah also can be spelled in many ways:
Chanukkah, Chanukah, Hanukkah, Hanukah - don't be afraid that you've misspelled it...
Chanukkah is probably the best known Jewish holiday because of its proximity to Christmas. Many non-Jews (and Jews too) think of this holiday as the "Jewish Christmas" and have adopted many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate gift-giving and decoration. It is bitterly ironic that this holiday, which has its roots in a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of Jewish religion, has become the most assimilated, secular holiday on our calendar.
The only true symbol of this holiday is the lighting of the Menorah. A menorah has nine candles: one for each night, plus a shammus (servant) at a different height. (This is a nice note if you are stamping cards with candle stamps)
Contrary to popular belief Hanukkah is not an important religious holiday. Hanukkah is not even mentioned in Jewish scripture as the story is related in the book of Maccabbees, which Jews do not accept as scripture.
Another part of Hanukkah is the Deridel Game - dreidels are marked with four Hebrew letters: Nun, Gimmel, Heh and Shin. These letters stand for the Hebrew phrase "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham", which means a great miracle happened there, referring to the miracle of the oil. (I'm sure you can find the story online if you wanted
) Most people play for matchsticks, pennies, M&Ms or chocolate coins - so there's a few ideas for your stamping needs...
To stamp cards during this time of year, you can use Star of davids, Dreidels, Menorah's, candles, winter scenes are acceptable since this is usually the time of year that Hanukkah has occured. No Jewish stamps? That's okay - a simple "Seasons Greetings" will do - trust me - you don't have to go out and buy a Jewish stamp set just because your new neighbors who moved in are Jewish. Just please no Merry Christmas - although it is appreciated by most.
This holiday is known as the "Jewish Halloween" although has completely different meanings. The Jewish Halloween reference comes because kids and adults both get dressed up in costumes for this holiday. Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of Adar, which is usually in March.
The primary commandment for Purim is to listen to the reading of the book of Esther. The book of Esther is commonly known as the "Megillah" which means scroll. It is customary to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle gragers (noise makers) whenever the name of Haman is mentioned during the service. The purpose of this custom is to blot out the name of Haman.
We are also commanded to eat, drink and be merry. A person is required to drink until he cannot tell the difference between cursed be Haman and blessed be Mordecai - though opinions differ from person to person how drunk that is. (A person certainly should not become so drunk that he might violate other commandments or get seriously ill. Recovering alcoholics or others who might suffer serious harm from alcohol are of course exempt from this obligation)
In addition, we are commanded to send out gifts of food or drink, and to make gifts to charity. It is also customary to hold carnival like celebrations on Purim, to perform theater, plays and parodies, etc.
To give you a list of things you could stamp: Scrolls, Esther (pretty women), Hamentashen (triangular cookies), clowns and circus, graggers or noise makers, etc. Happy Purim is the easiest saying you can use to stamp on your cards.
Of all the Jewish holidays, Pesach is the one most commonly observed, even by otherwise non-observant Jews. Pesach begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan. Passover marks the start of a few agricultural holidays, but the primary observances of Passover is related to the Exodus from Egypt after generations of slavery. "Pesach" comes from the Hebrew root Peh-Samech-Chet , meaning to pass through or to pass over. It refers to the fact that G-d "passed over" the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt.
Without going into a lot more detail since this is getting long, you can use matzoh stamps, (square stamps with little dots to look like matzoh), seder plates (round plates with round sections for each of the food types for passover seder).
- Tu B'Shevat, the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat, is a holiday also known as the New Year for Trees. Tu B'Shevat is the new year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing. See Lev. 19:23-25, which states that fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years; the fourth year's fruit is for G-d, and after that, you can eat the fruit.
There are very few customs or observances related to this holiday but I happen to like it mainly because of my attraction to treese and nature related things
. One custom is to eat a new fruit on this day. Some people plant trees on this day. A lot of Jewish children go around collecting money for trees for Israel at this time of year.
You could of couse use trees and nature themes for stamping during this holiday. You could also use fruit stamps as well.
Hopefully this is enough to get you started down the path of Jewish Stamping. One thing to note is to NOT stamp or print prayers in these cards. Without going into a lot of detail, these cards that have prayers (or anything that might have a prayer attached) cannot be simply thrown away. There is a process that these cards have to go through in order to be "gotten rid of".
My recommendation is to read a little about holidays before you stamp. It isn't necessary to give your Jewish neighbor down the road a card each holiday - as it really isn't traditional to do so other than on Rosh Hashanna, and even now on Hanukkah.
In addition to the "regular" Jewish stamps (star of davids, menorah, driedels, etC) you can also look for Pomegranates, Apples, honey, bees and beehives, just to name a few.
Good luck and happy "Jewish Stamping". I look forward to your comments and suggestions as well!