This post was originally published on February 8, 2016and has been updated
Our enthusiasm for opportunities to start fresh has frequently made its way onto the blog, from the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), to the civil New Year, to the start of a new semester.
This week marks another calendrical reset: the Lunar New Year. Commonly known as the Chinese New Year for its largest group of celebrants, it’s the start of a calendar determined in part by the phases of the moon, rather than the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. Because of this, the civil date of the holiday varies from late January to mid-February.
According to former Touro Library Cataloger, Liping Wang, observations of the holiday often include cleaning the home, families gathering for a home-cooked meal on New Year’s Eve, fireworks, and “luck money” given from the older generations to the younger in red envelopes. In New York, you can normally participate in parades and other celebrations held in Chinatown, in Manhattan, and in Flushing, Queens. NYC public schools recognize the Lunar New Year as an official holiday, meaning no school for students. Alas, Touro classes are all still in session, but we wish you all a happy Lunar New Year!
2020 was a challenging year, but as we look to 2021, there are many reasons to be hopeful. We are thankful to have been a part of your year and look forward to supporting your success in the new one, too, through research support, online and print resources, and more. Make it your resolution to come visit us — online or in-person — and see all that we have to offer you.
The Touro College Libraries wish you and your families a happy and healthy new year!
The Jewish people have been called the “People of the Book.” Books take on additional significance at this of year with the Talmud describing Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, as a time during which G-d inscribes the virtuous in “the Book of Life.” Indeed, across the world, during this season, Jews wish for each other to be written and signed in G-d’s Book of Life.
Jewish tradition tells us that G-d does not put away this book once Rosh Hashanah has ended. Even those who did not merit being inscribed in this Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah may still be written in the Book of Life if they change their ways through repentance prior to Yom Kippur. Hence the solemnness of the High Holiday period as a season of personal reflection.
The Touro College Libraries have many books related to Rosh Hashanah and the High Holiday period.
This machzor contains a facsimile of Maḥzor Rosh ha-Shanah hand-written by from memory in Wolfsberg labor camp. When reading this machzor, one can only be awed by the dedication of the Jewish people to their faith under the most trying circumstances.
This book provides readers with an understanding of the many aspects of Rosh Hashanah that they may wonder about.
As librarians, we have a special appreciation for books. But at this time of year, it is fitting that we pause and reflect on how we live our lives so that we may be inscribed in the book that counts most: the book G-d opens on Rosh Hashanah.
From the Libraries to the entire Touro Community, may you be inscribed in the Book of Life!
This post was contributed by Michael Kahn, Librarian, Touro College School for Lifelong Education