I am writing this late on Sunday night and thinking about Rosh Hashanah starting tomorrow night and debating how early I should get up for the longer Erev Rosh Hashanah Selichot tomorrow. This decision is complicated by the fact that our editorial and production team and I are all working hard until late tonight to make sure that the Shabbat Shuva edition you are reading now is mostly finished and ready to print before Rosh Hashanah starts.
While we have finished our paper a day or so early before, we have never had to finish our paper this early and it’s a real test for us. Hopefully, when you are reading it, we will have passed the test and come out with a decent edition. I will let you decide.
Although I have been a news publisher for 8+ years now, I cannot remember Rosh Hashanah ever falling out this early in September. In fact, I don’t recall Labor Day Monday ever falling out on Erev Rosh Hashanah. However, a bit of quick internet research tells me that this happened last back in 1994 when I was starting my senior year of Yeshiva College and was also then the editor-in-chief of the Yeshiva College Commentator (yes, for those who know me from those days, I am still in the Jewish newspaper business). I also had way less strict paper deadlines then, that’s for sure.
With a bit more research, I see that Rosh Hashanah missed Labor Day Monday by a day back in 2013 but otherwise and usually, Rosh Hashanah will typically fall out a bit later in September and occasionally even in early October.
So what does one make of this, a so-called “early” Rosh Hashanah for the many, if not most of us, tied to the secular calendar? On the one hand, I kind of appreciate that the beginning of the New Year for us as Jews also coincides with the start of the new academic year as many in our lives are starting new schools and yeshivot, and in some cases, new jobs, during this time period. So the timing kind of makes sense from a practical standpoint.
At the same time, I understand that not everyone might feel this way. I know that many schools would probably prefer to start the school year without having Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot breaking up the next few weeks and not allowing teachers and students to acclimate and adjust fully. There is definitely something to be said for starting school and yeshiva much earlier in Elul, as many, if not most, of the larger yeshivot here and in Israel do.
Regarding timing, I do want to say that I certainly sympathize with my many neighbors, friends and relatives who tell me how challenging the month of September is this year for them, with the Yomim Tovim falling out mid-week for the next few weeks. Walking home from shul yesterday, a neighbor of mine, a frum therapist, told me he just started a job two weeks ago and now has to take off eight days of unpaid vacation from his new job due to the Yomim Tovim.
Thankfully, I have been blessed to work primarily for Jewish organizations in my career, with all Yomim Tovim and most Erev Yom Tovim being days where I was not expected to be in the office or working very much.
Having said that, for this year, I may have slightly less sympathy because if you look at the calendar over the next few weeks, you will also realize that its actually quite difficult to come out with a weekly paper like ours that goes to print late Wednesday night, especially with all of the Yom Tovim falling out during our most important business days of the week. This may have happened back in 2014 but our paper was much smaller then and also not yet a weekly paper, so the challenges were not the same. We have never encountered this before as a weekly.
Just to add to this, we always take off one edition for Chol Hamoed (no Sept. 23rd edition this year for Shabbat Chol Hamoed) and I generally try to enjoy Sukkot and not work at all…nor do I want my editors and staff to work over the Chag, if it can be helped. But this year, that’s impossible. Simply put, the only way for us to be able to come out with an edition post-Sukkot, right after Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret,is to work over the Chag. It’s less than ideal and a first for us as well. I won’t be coming to Great Adventure this year, unfortunately.
Having said that, I do have a lot of faith, emunah and bitachon in my team and in Hashem above that we will get through the challenging next few work weeks….and I hope the same applies to all who are reading this column in all of your respective jobs and occupations.
A G’mar Chasima Tovah to all of you, our readers!
PS: I want to thank the many readers and friends who called, texted, emailed, Whatsapped, FB-messaged, and shockingly even, physically spoke (in-person) to me and our editors to say how much they loved last week’s Rosh Hashanah edition. You should know that this really means a tremendous amount to all of us at the Jewish Link. Kein Yirbu!
By Moshe Kinderlehrer/
Co-Publisher, The Jewish Link