Multiple Intelligences: Verbal-linguistic, spatial, interpersonal, naturalistic, logical-mathematical

Core Concept:

Students will learn that they have Jewish birthdays in addition to their civil birthdays; they will understand that there is an instruction in the Torah to create a Jewish calendar.


Discovering the notion of a Jewish birthday provides an intriguing introduction to the study of the Jewish calendar, as well as an opportunity for students to consider ways to make the celebrations of their Jewish birthdays distinctly Jewish. PLEASE NOTE: It is important that the children understand that when we refer to the "calendar" in ancient times, we are not talking about a printed document but about the order of the months.


  • Jewish calendars from the previous year (or any year other than the current year) that are marked with Jewish as well as civil dates and the students’ Hebrew birthdays (see "Prepare in Advance" for more information)--enough for half the class, so that there will be one for each pair of students. If you would prefer that students work alone, create more calendars.
  • Markers, crayons, or other drawing utensils


Rubric for Work on Jewish Calendar (Lessons 1, 2 and 3)


Visual JC 1.1: Exodus 12:1-2 (on SMARTBoard, wipe board, or poster board)


Worksheet JC 1.1: Birthday Letter
Worksheet JC 1.2: Text Study: Why a Calendar?
Worksheet JC 1.3a - 1.3b: Moon Observations (two-sided if possible)

Prepare in Advance:

  • If the school does not have access to calendars from the previous year, you can print them from
    • In the box marked “Jewish Holidays for,” set the year to the previous year, set the month for the entire year, and set the calendar to include the civil year (Gregorian).
    • In the box marked “Include events,” ensure that everything is unchecked.
    • In the box marked “Other options,” check "Display visual calendar grid" and “Show Hebrew date for entire date range.”
    • In the box marked "Candle lighting times," ensure that "None" is marked.
    • Print only one calendar.
  • Once one calendar is printed, write in students’ Hebrew birthdays. These can be calculated at You will need to have a list of your students’ civil birthdays (see Kesher JC 1.1). If you are not able to gather all the information that is requested in the Kesher Communication, assume that all students were born in the morning and send home Worksheet JC 1.1 after the lesson to explain why your calculations of the students’ Hebrew birthdays may be inaccurate.
  • Copy enough calendars with students' Hebrew birthdays written in for half the class (so that there will be one for each pair of students). If you would prefer that students work alone, make additional copies of the calendar.

Note: This lesson is approximately 40 minutes long. If you do not expect it to fill your entire class period, consider doing Step 9 from Lesson 3, which involves teaching "The Months Song," to complete the class period. Doing so will make it easier to complete Lesson 3 in one class period.

Use of Technology:

  • Internet resources for class preparation
  • SMARTBoard or computer and LCD projector (optional)

Quad 1.jpgStep 1: Quad 1, Right (Connect)

Objective: Students will observe that Hebrew dates are not the same as civil dates.

Activity: Students will find their Hebrew birthdays on a civil calendar.

Time: 5 minutes


  • Arrange students into pairs. Note: You can choose to have students work alone. If you do so, be sure to create enough calendars for each student to have one. We suggest allowing students to work in pairs to minimize the number of photocopies and to provide an opportunity for students to help one another.
  • Distribute Jewish calendars for the previous year, as described above.
  • Ask students to share observations about the calendars they were given. These observations may include comments about the names of the months, the number of days in a month, etc. The goal is for them to notice their birthdays so that you can explain that it is the correct Hebrew date but the incorrect civil date. It is fine if they focus immediately on their birthdays without noticing any other elements of the calendar. If they do not realize that their birthdays are not listed on the correct civil dates within a reasonable amount of time, guide them by bringing their attention to the first birthday of the year. The student whose birthday is pointed out should realize that the civil date is incorrect.
  • Worksheet JC 1.1.jpgStudents will likely be confused. Assure them that this is not a mistake. Explain that you looked up the dates that they were born on the Jewish calendar, which is different from the calendar that they usually follow in America. Look together at one of the birthdays on the calendar. Point out the Hebrew name for the month and the number that corresponds to the Hebrew date on the square for the birthday. These are their Jewish birthdays.
  • Distribute Worksheet JC 1.1: Birthday Letter and ask students to write the Jewish date of their Jewish birthday in the space provided. Explain that the Jewish birthday calculator requires detailed information in order to be 100% accurate and that you recommend asking parents to check the accuracy of the date you gave them by using the website on the letter.

Picture1.jpgStep 2: Quad 1, Left (Attend)

Objective: Students will understand that there is an instruction in the Torah to maintain a Jewish calendar--a Jewish way of keeping track of the months of the year. We maintain our own calendar as a way of keeping track of our holidays and of keeping connected to other Jewish people.

Activity: Students will read a biblical text that introduces the concept of a Jewish calendar. They will reflect upon the reason for the instruction to create a Jewish calendar.

Time: 20 minutes


  • Visual JC 1.1.jpgPost Visual JC 1.1: Exodus 12:1-2 on SMARTBoard, wipe board, or poster board in Hebrew and in English. Tell students that this text is what God instructed Moshe just before the Jewish people left Egypt. (Please note that we are using this text as the source of the idea that there should be a calendar, a sequence of months, and NOT that Nissan should be the first month of the year.)
  • Worksheet JC 1.2.jpgDistribute or post Worksheet JC 1.2: Text Study: Why a Calendar?, and ask students to choose a partner to discuss the questions on the worksheet.
  • Review some answers as a class.
  • Encourage students to think more deeply about the text through this follow-up discussion:
    • Does anyone know what holiday God was talking about?
    • When do we celebrate our freedom from Egypt?
    • How do Jewish people all over the world know when to celebrate that holiday?
    • Why is it important that we all celebrate it at the right time?
    • Point out that God tells this to Moshe just before the Israelites leave Egypt and begin their journey toward Sinai, where they receive the Torah, and Israel. It is their first experience as one "people" or one community.
    • Ask students to explain why the Torah might instruct us to keep our own calendar to help us celebrate our holidays as a community rather than on our own. Some answers may include:
      • It enhances the celebration to have more people join in.
      • We are celebrating events that happened to us as a group, so it makes sense to remember these events as a group.
      • They are national holidays, so we want to celebrate as a nation; celebrating as a group enables us to continue to create an ongoing sense of Jewish peoplehood.
      • We can help one another prepare so that we can enjoy the celebration more.
      • It’s just more fun.

Quad 2 Right imagine.jpgStep 3: Quad 2, Right (Image)

Objective: Students will reflect upon the role of the moon in the creation of the Jewish calendar.

Activity: Students will imagine that they are Moshe in the desert and will observe the moon to see how it can help keep track of the passage of time.

Time: 15 minutes


  • Worksheet JC 1.3a - 1.3b_Page_1.jpgTell the class that you want each of them to imagine that s/he is Moshe. Explain: You have just left Egypt. You are leading the Jewish people into the wilderness. God told you that you are supposed to keep track of the months of the year. What do people in the wilderness have for keeping time? What is there in nature that can help them keep track? Students offer suggestions, which may include the sun, moon, stars, or other elements of nature, and explain their answers. Validate all answers. Explain that different cultures use all sorts of ways to tell time but that Moshe used the moon. Tell students that the class is going to spend some time understanding how Moshe did that.
  • Worksheet JC 1.3a - 1.3b: Moon Observations instructs students to look at the moon three times before the next class in order to figure out how Moshe used the moon to keep track of time while the Israelites were in the wilderness. Observations should be spread across the time interval between classes. For example, one Worksheet JC 1.3a - 1.3b_Page_2.jpgmight be done at the beginning of the week (preferably that night), one in the middle of the week, and one right before the next class. If the time period between classes is more than a week, adjust these instructions to spread the observations across that time period. It’s best to actually go outside and look for the moon, but students who cannot see the moon outside can use the Internet to find pictures of what the moon looks like. Here is a helpful website:
  • Instruct: For the next time we study this, which will be __, please bring in the assignment with the three pictures of what the moon looked like on three occasions this week. We will use these pictures to help us understand more about the instruction that God gave Moshe to have a Jewish calendar.