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The Jewish Calendar

The Jewish calendar differs from the common one. It is based on the revolutions of the moon around the earth, whereas the common calendar is based on the earth's rotation around the sun. The lunar calendar comprises (in a normal year) twelve months each of 29 or 30 days. In a leap year a thirteenth month is added, known as Adar II. 

A leap year occurs seven times in each cycle of nineteen years; in the third, sixth, eighth, eleventh, fourteenth, seventeenth and nineteenth years. By adding the extra month, the lunar year (354 days) is made to harmonize with the solar year (365 days).                 
The Hebrew names of the month were adopted from the Babylonian calendar during the Babylonian exile in 586 B.C.E. The first written Jewish calendar was compiled by Hillel II in 359 C.E.

The first month of the Jewish calendar is the month of Nissan, in the Israeli spring. However, the Jewish New Year is in Tishrei, the seventh month, and that is when the year number is increased. This concept of different starting points for a year is not as strange as it might seem. The Australian 'new year' starts in January, but the Chinese one starts a month or two later. The new 'financial year' starts in July, and so on.

Similarly, the Jewish calendar has different starting points for different purposes. The days of the New Moon are considered important days in the Jewish calendar. They are known as Rosh Chodesh. On Saturdays preceding the New Moon and in the New Moon days, special prayers are recited, and Jews celebrate each new month.





Gregorian Equivalent 

Nissan 1 30 Days March - April
Iyar 2 29 Days April - May
Sivan 3 30 Days May - June
Tammuz 4 29 Days June - July
Av 5 30 Days July - August
Elul 6 29 Days August - September
Tishrei 7 30 Days September - October
Cheshvan 8 29 or 30 Days October - November
Kislev 9 30 or 29 Days November - December
Tevet 10 29 Days December - January
Shevat 11 30 Days January - February
Adar 12 29 or 30 Days February - March
Adar II (leap year only) 13 29 Days March - April

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