Rosh Hashanah Postcard

Rosh Hashanah postcard, Warsaw, late 1920s • Jewish Museum London

This charming treasure is a Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) postcard printed in Warsaw in the late 1920s. It’s part of the Jewish Museum London‘s collection. It shows a group of Jewish immigrants awaiting their ship, which in this case is sailed by the figure of the New Year. Themes of immigration were common in New Year postcards from this time, as more and more East European Jews looked to move west to America and to England.

The rhyming Yiddish message says:

Pure and light like God’s angel,
In the hand, the sail and flag,
Loaded full with blessings
The New Year is arriving now!

The tradition of sending New Year’s greetings for the Jewish holidays dates from the 14th century; however, it was not until the mass production of printed material and affordable stationery that the practice became widespread. The first postcard was invented in Vienna, 1869. It was then just a blank square of thin card. The classic picture postcard followed shortly after and was quickly taken up by the public, becoming so popular that the years between 1898 and 1920 have been referred to as the ‘Great Post Card Craze.’

During this craze, the practice of sending Jewish New Year postcards also took off. Germany and Poland were the centres of production for these cards, with German printers primarily using Biblical imagery for illustrations and East European printers opting for artwork depicting scenes from day to day Jewish life. The image was often paired with a rhyme or short message in Yiddish. Read more about New Year postcards on the Jewish Museum’s blog here.


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