Rosh Chodesh 101
A Minor Holiday
Rosh Chodesh itself is a minor holiday, with relatively few observances, but there are several significant liturgical changes. An extra paragraph is added to the Amidah, and to the grace after meals. An abbreviated form of Hallel is recited, and a selection from the Torah about the Rosh Chodesh sacrifice is read. An additional service, musaf, is added after Shaharit.
Rosh Chodesh has long been considered a special holiday for women. Some say that this is because the women of Israel did not offer their jewelry for the creation of the Golden Calf. As a result, they were given Rosh Chodesh as a day when they could abstain from work. To this day, some women refrain from some forms of labor on Rosh Chodesh. Others have connected the waxing and waning of the moon to a woman's menstrual cycle. Whatever the reason, Rosh Chodesh has long been a time for Jewish women to gather for a wide variety of activities, from reciting tradition liturgy, to sharing a meal, discussing Jewish ethics, and working for social change.
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