Thursday, March 4, 2010

It’s A Little Complicated

Today was Chuck’s Mom’s yahrzeit, the anniversary of the day she passed. Mom died back in 1999 on March 4th. By the Hebrew calendar (a lunar calendar), that year March 4th fell on 16 Adar, 5759. If we were Orthodox Jews, we would acknowledge Mom’s yahrzeit each year on 16 Adar. This year, 5770, that would have been this past Tuesday, March 2nd. While all of this is of interest, the family tradition for a couple of generations, has been to keep all dates by the Gregorian calendar.

But, when Chuck spoke with his sister about their Mom’s yahrzeit, an interesting discussion ensued. Unlike the Gregorian calendar where the date and day changes at midnight, the Hebrew calendar changes the date and day at sunset. Carol pointed out that Mom passed after sunset by the Gregorian calendar on March 4, 1999. That means that Mom passed on 17 Adar, 5759, which would have been yesterday, March 3rd.

I mean absolutely no disrespect.
But can I have an Oy?

This isn’t our family’s first experience with the challenge of sorting out dates between the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars. Chuck’s Grandma Minnie was born in 1888 near Kiev, then part of the Russian Empire. Minnie was born on Purim, 14 Adar, 5648. But on the Gregorian calendar, Purim falls on different dates each year. When Minnie was a young child attending school in Chelsea, Massachusetts, she said her birthday was whatever Gregorian date Purim fell on in any given year. That didn’t fit with the record keeping of a late 19th century public school. So Minnie was instructed to pick a date and stick with it. Minnie chose March 10th. Minnie’s last birthday was her 101st in 1988. We may have celebrated it on March 10th, but we all knew it was really Purim. That year Purim fell on March 21st; 14 Adar II, 5749...

For Chuck’s Mom, Betty and for his Grandma Minnie as well:
Zichrona Liveracha - Her memory is a blessing

: : There are now several Hebrew/Gregorian calendars available on the internet. HebCal is particularly easy to use.

: : For a fascinating look at keeping Shabbos in Antarctica (really!) you can read this article from the Jewish Daily Forward. I mention it because candlelighting is tied to sunset. In Antarctica, they have mostly 24 hours of light or 24 hours of darkness!


dancingmorganmouse said...


Pink Granite said...

Hi DMM -
- Lee