Marking the New Year

From Our Collections

The holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are traditionally a time for introspection, asking for and giving forgiveness, resolving to do better, and praying for a healthy and happy year to come.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a time of prayer, family gatherings, special meals and sweet tasting foods.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the most solemn day of the Jewish year and is a day of fasting, reflection and repentance.

Through testimony, artifacts, photos, cards and prayer books from Yad Vashem’s collections, we offer a glimpse into some of the ways that Jews before, during and immediately after the Holocaust marked these special days.

A greeting card with a photo of Holocaust Survivor Ben Gal sent from Berlin, Germany in 1947
Rosh Hashanah (New Year) greeting card that Adolf-Ajzyk Birenbaum sent from Radom, Poland in 5690 (1929-1930)
Rosh Hashanah (New Year) greeting card, “Next Year in Jerusalem!" from the Linz DP Camp, Austria.
Prewar Rosh Hashanah (New Year) greeting card with a photograph of the Sholek family from Rowne, Poland
Rosh Hashanah (New Year) greeting card that Regina Fenster and her daughter Lucy sent from the Foehrenwald DP camp (Germany) in 1947
Prewar Rosh Hashanah (New Year) greeting card with a photograph of Yafa Shchupak and (presumably) her husband
Rosh Hashanah (New Year) greeting card that Shmuel Slavicz sent in 1929
New Year's card with a portrait of Efraim and Chana Aleksander and their baby daughter
Hebrew calendar drawn up by Moshe Menachem Herstik in the Ilia camp, southern Transylvania, Romania
New Year's card that 12-year-old Flore Henle wrote to her parents, Leopold and Jenny
Aharon Jakobson with fellow members of the "Front of the Wilderness Generation" in the Łódź ghetto
"Tashlich" ceremony in Jonava, Lithuania, Rosh Hashanah 1935
New Year's card made by 9-year-old Mojsze Treschtschanski in the Terezin ghetto, for his caregiver Emilie Reinwald, September 1943
New Year's card with a portrait of Henia Lubliner, which she sent from Siedlce, Poland to her sister Esther in Eretz Israel
New Year's card with a photograph of the Sorger family, sent in 1934 from Obertyn, Poland to Eretz Israel
New Year's card with a portrait of toddler Dziunia Wilhelm sent from Radomsko, Poland to Eretz Israel in 1932
Two Jewish men in the synagogue following the Torah reading. The Hebrew greeting on top reads: “May you be inscribed for a good year”.
Rosh Hashanah in the children's home in Łódź after the war. Łódź, 1947
New Year's card that Schlomo Gorfinkel sent from Paris to his wife Gitta, who was still in Warsaw, September 18th, 1930
New Year's card that Gitta sent from Warsaw to her husband Schlomo Gorfinkel, in Paris, September 26, 1930
New Year card that 7-year-old Jacob Hijman Marcus wrote to his grandparents. Amsterdam, 19 September 1941
A group of men practicing the custom of “Taschlich” (casting off). The custom involves going to a river or creek on Rosh Hashanah and casting a piece of bread into the river symbolizing the “casting off” of sins
"Shana Tova" (Happy New Year) card that Manfred (last name unknown) sent from Berlin to his friend Israel-Isi Altholtz in Haifa
Jewish Calendar from Bergen-Belsen, 1944
Jews on their way to services on Yom Kippur. The Hebrew greeting on top reads: “May you be inscribed for a good year”
Rosh Hashana (New Year) greeting card that Rabbi Meir Moshe Kasorla from Stip, Yugoslavia (today northern Macedonia) sent to his cousin Yaakov Kalderon, before the war
Łódź, Poland, Jewish New Year's greetings card from the ghetto, 1940
"Shana Tova" (Happy New Year) card sent to Henia Pollock in Argentina, from her relatives in Końskie, Poland, 1939
Pictured on this New Years card is a parade in the town of Lackenbach, Austria honoring the new Rabbi Yehuda Kraus on May 7, 1902
The Jews of Vabalninkas, Lithuania, in front of one of the torched synagogues in the town, on the eve of Rosh Hashana 1927
Jacob Graiman and his wife from Łódź, Poland on a New Years card, September 26, 1936
Łódź, Poland, a Rosh Hashanah greeting card from the ghetto, 1940
Shana Tova (Happy New Year) card that Rudolph-Reuven de Roos wrote to his parents, Isidore-Yitzhak and Margarete-Bernadina, in September 1943
A New Years card sent from the town of Plunge in Lithuania in 1935
Shofar (Ram’s Horn) made under perilous conditions in the forced labor camp Skarzysko-Kamienna in Poland in 1943
Rosh Hashanah Cards from Bergen-Belsen Camp
High Holiday symbols adorning the window of a synagogue in Assen, Holland
A New Years card from 1947. The Yiddish inscription at the bottom says “With heartfelt wishes for a good year”
Postcard with greetings for the New Year that Miriam and Avraham-Simon Gorfinkel sent from Warsaw in the early 1930's to their son Schlomo and daughter-in-law Gitta who were living in Paris
Synagogue Schedule and Policies for the High Holiday Services in Brno, Czechoslovakia, 1941
Dawid Markowicz from Trzebinia, Poland, who died while trying to illegally emigrate to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) aboard a boat called the Patria
Prewar, Poland, a Rosh Hashanah greetings postcard, written in Yiddish
Prayer Book for Rosh Hashanah from 1826 that had an inscription from Kovno ghetto and was printed in Altuna
A New Years card sent by Yisrael Berman and his wife from Szczecin, Poland in 1948
Poland, 1938, a Rosh Hashanah card from the Stepak girls
One of the sukkah decorations created by survivor Naftali Stern before the Holocaust in Satu Mare, Transylvania
"Shana Tova" (Happy New Year) card for the Jewish year 5709 from the Esther Orphanage in Athens, made by the Joint Distribution Committee
Sermon on Yom Kippur by the Klausenberger Rebbe, Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam, delivered in the Fährenwald DP Camp, 1945
A Shofar Blast in the Theresienstadt Ghetto
Pictured on this New Years card is the “illegal” immigration ship The Exodus 1947. The Exodus 1947 attempted to bring Jewish survivors to Palestine in 1947, only to be turned back to Europe by the British Mandate authorities and sent to Displaced Persons’ camps in Germany
A Calendar for the Jewish Year 5704 (1943-44) from the Theresienstadt Ghetto
Druja, Poland, Meir Levitanus (the submitter) and his sister Chaya Miriam Marla, 1941
Tel Aviv, Mandatory Palestine, a postcard sent to Aron Sarfati from Mois Aaron for the Jewish New Year on 09/09/1934
A Rosh Hashanah card sent by Aharon and Sheindl Blumen in 1926 from Luboml, Poland
Łódź, Poland, a New Year greeting card, with the photo of the submitter's father's family, 1948
Łódź, Poland, a Happy New Year greeting card with a photograph of the Rozenwasser family, 1936
Machzor for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur printed in Sulzbach in 1795
Zvi Estrajch from Warsaw Poland on a Rosh Hashanah card sent in 1935. This card was given to Yad Vashem by Zvi’s sister, Hadassah, who came to Israel in 1936 and was the only surviving member of her family
1937, a Jewish New Year greeting bearing the photograph of a couple
A portrait of Moshe and Pinhas, the nephews of the photo submitter, Bat Sheva Gudiuer. Both of the children were murdered in the Holocaust
"The Cry of Captivity" – a prayer book and calendar for the New Year 5705 – 1944
Blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah in the Kovno Ghetto
"Shana Tova" (Happy New Year) card that the Maraszynski family sent from Szczuczyn to their daughter Ida in Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) in the 1930s
Livia Koralek's Yom Kippur Eve Sermon
Page from a Jewish calendar, written in Siberia in 1943
A New Years card sent from Banska Bystica, Slovakia
Bergen-Belsen, Germany, a postcard with a Happy New Year blessing from Zelda and Mordechai Perel, 20/9/1949
A New Years Card sent from the Meor HaGolah (Light of the Exile) Yeshiva in Rome in 1948
Poland, 1/9/1947, Daniel Pinski on a Rosh Hashanah greeting card
This card was sent from Eschwege, Germany on September 23, 1947
Condensed version of a Yom Kippur Mahzor (holiday prayerbook) prepared in 1940 in the Saint Cyprien Camp in France, evidence of religious and communal life during the Holocaust
New Year greetings card, Cyprus, 1948. Sent by brothers David (right) and Yosef (left) Sinder
Israel Mizrahi's Shofar
Machzor for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and book of Selichot (penitential prayers)
Prayers for the New Year in the Wolfsberg Forced Labor Camp
Rosh Hashanah card from the Tunik family, Stolpce, 1936
Łódź, Poland, a Rosh Hashanah greeting card, 1941