Multiple Intelligences: Musical, verbal-linguistic, intrapersonal, spatial

Core Concept:

Birkat Hahodesh expresses our desires for blessings in the new month. We can add our own wishes for blessings to the traditional list.


The blessing of Birkat Hahodesh is recited on the Shabbat prior to each Rosh Hodesh. In this prayer, the time of the expected first crescent is announced, and blessings are said for a good new month. Incorporating this prayer into the students’ birkonim will help them see each new month as a time for introspection, gratitude, and prayer.


Students will learn to read or sing the Birkat Hahodesh and will create a page for their personal birkonim that includes their own wishes for the upcoming month.


Note: In this lesson, students focus only on specific parts of Birkat Hahodesh. The following links provide recitation of the complete berakhah using a different chant from the link above:

Berakhah JC 5.1a - 5.1e: Birkat Hahodesh

Visual JC 5.1: Birkat Hahodesh, Yehi Ratzon: Please note that the PowerPoint slide is a "build slide." The Hebrew comes on first; when you click your mouse, the English will appear. If you use the PDF version, the English and Hebrew are on the same page.

Prepare in Advance:

  • Post text of Birkat Hahodesh on the SMARTBoard or a piece of poster board. Keep English covered until after students have tried to decipher the words in Step 13.

Use of Technology:

  • Audio player (optional)
  • SMARTBoard (optional)

Quad 2 Left Inform.jpgStep 13, Quad 2 Left (Inform)

Objective: Students will be able to recite part of the Birkat Hahodesh and will understand the blessings that it contains.

Activity: Students will practice reading the beginning of Birkat Hahodesh and will illustrate items that they associate with its blessings.

Time: 25 minutes

  • Explain: Today there is no longer a Temple in Jerusalem, and there is no Sanhedrin to question people who witnessed the new moon. Therefore, we no longer have the tradition of testifying when we see the new moon. Almost 1,600 years ago, a rabbi named Hillel used math to calculate when Rosh Hodesh would occur for every month into the future, and created a set calendar that we now follow. However, we still commemorate Rosh Hodesh by saying a special blessing on the Shabbat before it arrives each month. Since we ask for blessings on the Shabbat before each Rosh Hodesh, we call each of those Shabbatot Shabbat Mevarkhim, which comes from the word barekh, meaning “bless.”

Visual JC 5.1.jpg
    • Post Visual JC 5.1, which contains the first line of Birkat Hahodesh. Ask for a volunteer to read it, or read it to the class.
  • Recite the text in Hebrew and tell students to repeat the words after you. Consider teaching the tune with which it is recited in your synagogue. Alternatively, play a tune using this link:
  • Point out that the berakhah asks for two requests in the new month: Tovah uverakhah, goodness and blessing. Ask students to share examples of two requests that they might wish for each month.
  • Explain that the prayer continues with several requests that may be considered Tovah uverakhah. You are going to read them to students.
  • Berakhah JC 5.1a - JC 5.1e_Page_1.jpgDistribute Berakhah JC 5.1a - JC 5.1e. Ask students to look at the text on Berakhah JC 5.1a, and ask if they see any words that are repeated frequently in the text. Guide them to notice that the word hayim (life) is present in each request and that we are asking for personal wishes to be added to our lives. Instruct students to underline this word each time it appears in both Hebrew and English.

  • Berakhah JC 5.1a - JC 5.1e_Page_2.jpgTell students that you will read the berakhah out loud, and, as you read it, you want the students to write down any requests that are particularly meaningful to them on the top of Berakhah JC 5.1b.
  • Read through the rest of the berakhah slowly so that students have time to complete the top of their worksheet.
  • Call on a few students to read their lists and to explain why these prayers are meaningful to them.
  • Ask them to continue to the bottom of their worksheet, where they are instructed to think of additional wishes that they would like to include in the prayers that they say each month. Allow them to share these prayers, and save them for Step 14.

Quad 3 Left Practice.pngStep 14, Quad 3 Left (Practice)

Objective: Students will prepare themselves to say Birkat Hahodesh on a monthly basis.

Activity: Students will create pages for their birkonim that include the texts of Birkat Hahodesh, a reflection on the berakhah, and an illustration.

Time: 25 minutes

  • Students will use Berakhah JC 5.1e as a guide to create Birkat Hahodesh pages for their birkonim. They will create two spreads for this berakhah:
    • IMG_6532 New Image Dec 31 2012.JPGFirst spread:
      • Students will write the term "Birkat Hahodesh" in Hebrew on a strip of colored paper that they will cut and paste on the top of the page. To guide them, the teacher may write the word on the board or tell the students to look at the word written in Hebrew on worksheet JC5.1a.
      • Students will cut out the Birkat Hahodesh blessing in English and in Hebrew from Berakhah JC 5.1a. They will paste it on sheets of colored paper with the Hebrew on top and the English below.
      • Each student will select one of the wishes that s/he wrote on the bottom of Berakhah JC5.1b to illustrate his/her birkon. S/he will draw the illustration on a sheet of colored paper. S/he will glue the illustration onto the left side of his/her birkon.
      • On sheets of colored paper, students will write descriptions of what they drew. The descriptions should explain why they hope that God gives them their wishes. Students will glue the sheets of colored paper into the birkonim, under their illustration.

    • Birhat HaHodesh Months.jpgSecond spread:
      • Students will cut out the Rosh Hodesh announcement from Berakhah JC 5.1c in Hebrew and in English. They will paste it on sheets of colored paper with the Hebrew on top and the English below.
      • Students will glue the sheets of colored paper on the right side of their birkonim.
      • Students will cut out the Jewish months chart from Berakhah JC 5.1d and will paste it on sheets of colored paper.
      • Students will glue the sheets of colored paper on the left side of their birkonim.
      • Optional: Students will illustrate their charts with symbols of the holidays that are listed on them.
  • Explain: After the requests in the Birkat Hahodesh are read, many cantors announce when the congregation can expect to see the new moon of the next month. This announcement is what students glued on the right side of the second spread.
  • Play the following example of this announcement in Hebrew:
  • Practice reciting the berakhah (the Yehi Ratzon section that is bolded is sufficient) and the announcement with students so that they are prepared to say it when they announce Rosh Hodesh each month. Before saying this berakhah in class every month, they will check their chart and class calendar to see which Rosh Hodesh they will be celebrating and when it begins.
  • Students can practice the berakhah in a variety of groupings: together and in small groups (such as “All students wearing red recite”; “all students wearing sneakers…” “All students in the front row…”).