Head of the Month
Hebrew Calendar Date: The first day of every month
When it began:
Rosh Chodesh is the name for the first day of every month in the Hebrew calendar, marked by the appearance of the new moon. The occurrence of Rosh Chodesh was originally based on the testimony of witnesses observing the new moon. When two reliable witnesses appeared before the Sanhedrin (an assembly of rabbis who sat in a tribunal in every city of ancient Israel), the day was declared as Rosh Chodesh, either making the month a full month or a defective, 29-day month. After declaring the new month, news of it would then be communicated throughout Israel and the Diaspora.
At a later date, a custom was developed in which an additional day could be added to the month to ensure that certain holidays (such as Yom Kippur) did not fall on the days before or after Shabbat.
How it’s observed today:
The Ya'a'le VeYavo prayer is added to the prayer services and to the Grace after Meals. Half Hallel is recited during the day services. The Kiddush Levanah (Sanctification of the Moon) is recited soon after Rosh Chodesh, typically on the first Saturday night after Rosh Chodesh. Rosh Chodesh has a special significance for women, when they do not sew, weave or spin as that was the work done by women on behalf of the building of the Tabernacle.
Many school children wear white shirts to school/yeshiva in honor of Rosh Chodesh.
An extra dish or dessert is added to the dinner meal to celebrate the day.
Some women gather for varying types of Rosh Chodesh gatherings.