Making Jewish Calendars

by Laurie Bellet

Every lesson, throughout 4 years of high school French, Madame Jarman began by requiring us to recite the daily calendar information in French. Today, more than 30 years later, I am still able to complete the recitation entirely. Teaching the daily calendar provides learning experiences in language, time, season. General education teachers, especially at the elementary levels, take this daily recitation as a necessary component of their classroom day. Yet, relatively few Jewish educators offer students the opportunity to recite the calendar, in Hebrew.

At its most simple, for our youngest students, reciting the calendar can be as simple as recognizing the Hebrew month and orientating time to Shabbat and any proximal holidays. On the recording ‘Schlock Rock for Kids,’ the band sings the months to the tune of ‘My Darling Clementine.’ Once learned, this is not a song anyone soon, if ever, forgets. When students begin attending mid-week Religious School sessions, they can expand to include the day of the week, the date, the season and the weather. Older students can incorporate the language of ‘yesterday was,’ and ‘tomorrow will be,’ the parashat ha-shavu’ah and the relationship to the moon’s phases.

If you are uncertain how to begin, head over to They offer ($19.99) a full calendar package: calendar grid, month headings, daily cover-ups, holiday cover-ups. You can also purchase each component separately. I have long been disappointed that otherwise Jewish calendars have oriented from left to right. This year though, many Jewish retailers are offering the ‘new’ Calendar of the Jewish People. With dramatic art by Mordechai Rosenstein this calendar ($14.00 approx.) reads from right to left. Either of these options will greatly enhance both your program and your classroom décor.

But, if you prefer, you can Do It Yourself…:

At your local school supply store, purchase
• a calendar grid with a vertical orientation.
• Sentence strips
• Self-stick Velcro
• A package of die cuts in a desired shape
• File folder or other self-stick labels.

Here are the steps:

1. On each of seven self-stick labels, write the days of the week in Hebrew.

2. Use these labels to cover the English days of the week. Remember, work right to left.

3. Put the calendar through the laminator, if one is available.

4. Stick the soft side of the Velcro in each grid space.

5. Write the Hebrew number for each day of the month on a die cut shape. (stencils are helpful). Put holiday stickers on die cuts for special days.

6. If possible laminate each card. Clear contact paper works also. (They will be handled frequently)

7. Place the rough end Velcro on each number die cut.

8. On the sentence strips, write or stencil the name of each month. Decorate each to reflect the cycle of the year.

9. Laminate these.

10. Place smooth side Velcro on the calendar in the space you would like to place your monthly heading. Put the rough side Velcro correspondingly on each month ‘header.’

11. If desired, decorate die cut shapes for the weather, for the season, for the moon and for student birthdays.

The rest is simple. Begin with, “Ha yom: Yom Rishon.”