What to Say in a Rosh Hashana Card
Rosh Hashana translates into English as “Head of the Year” and, whilst the exact date varies from year to year, it is almost always celebrated in September or October. It is a two-day festival that kick-starts the Jewish new year. It is one of the most significant dates in the Jewish calendar and commemorates God’s creation of Adam and Eve. It’s a time to feast with friends and family but also a time to attend synagogue, to reflect on the year just gone and look forward to the year ahead. The traditional Hebrew greeting during Rosh Hashana is “Shanah tovah” which means “Good Year”.
Here are a few examples of things you could say in a Rosh Hashana card:
“Wishing you good health, happiness, peace and prosperity. Today and all through the year! L’shanah Tovah!”
“A day of joy, a time of hope, a year of happiness. Wishing you peace at Rosh Hashanah and always.”
“A wish for the New Year and always. Shalom!”
What to Say in a Hanukkaah Card
Hanukkah is an 8-day long winter festival of lights. It is a joyful, light-hearted celebration, full of rich traditions including lighting the menorah, playing dreidel and enjoying latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyah (jelly-filled donuts). It would be entirely appropriate to send someone a card wishing them a Happy Hanukkah. Here are a few ideas of things you could say in a Hanukkah card:
“Sending love your way during the Festival of Lights.”
“Hanukkah Sameach!” (meaning, “Happy Hanukkah!”)
“Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy Hanukkah and new year.”
“Warm wishes for a joyous Hanukkah filled with love and happiness.”
What to Say in a Yom Kippur Card
Whatever you do, don’t say Happy Yom Kippur! This Jewish holiday is not about being joyful and throwing a party. Considered to be the most holy day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur translates from Hebrew to English as “Day of Atonement”. Believers traditionally spend the day fasting and reflecting on the sins they have committed over the past year.
Given the central importance of this festival to Judaism, it is respectful to acknowledge it as a special occasion, even if you are not Jewish yourself. The customary Yom Kippur greeting is “G’mar chatima tova”, but if you don’t want to go all Hebrew, it would be appropriate to wish someone an easy fast or confer your best wishes for a good year to come.
Whatever you decide to say, be aware that your recipient will probably receive your message either before Yom Kippur starts (at sundown on Sunday) or after it finishes (at sundown on Monday), because many Jews do not use technology during their fast, so an e-card, text or email message will go unopened and a voice call will go straight to voicemail.
Jewish Rites of Passage
What to Say in a Bar Mitzvah Card
Bar Mitzvah translates from Hebrew as "son of the commandments" and it is marked by a Jewish boy when he turns 13. It is a coming of age ceremony in which he formally takes on the male obligations of the Jewish faith. During a special Shabbat service at the synagogue he publicly reads from the Torah for the first time and gives a speech to everyone present about what this milestone in his religious belief means to him. After the ceremony there is usually a big family party to celebrate.
The traditional Jewish greeting for a Bar Mitzvah card is "mazel tov", which means "good luck" in Yiddish. You can buy a printed Mazel Tov card or use this phrase as a starting point for your Bar Mitzvah message, as follows:
“Best wishes and mazel tov to you as you celebrate your bar mitzvah!”
“Mazel tov! Wishing you a great time celebrating your bar mitzvah…I hope it’s a day you’ll always look back on with pride.”
“A bar mitzvah is more than a party. It’s an important step in your faith and a big accomplishment, too. So mazel tov and well done on all your hard work in preparation for this day.”
What to Say in a Bat Mitzvah Card
A Bat Mitzvah is celebrated by a Jewish girl after her 12th birthday. At this time she formally transitions from being a girl to accepting the responsibilities of a woman. Unlike a boy celebrating his Bar Mitzvah, she will not read aloud form the Torah or begin wearing the tefillin (small leather boxes containing passages from the Torah) for worship. However, she will stand up in front of everyone present to thank them for attending and to talk about how she feels about reaching this milestone in her faith - and there will probably be a similarly big party to celebrate too!
Here are some ideas to help you write a bat mitzvah card to a Jewish friend or family member:
"Wishing you many blessings as you celebrate this special time."
"I am so proud and happy to be celebrating this special time with you. Mazel tov!"
"Mazel tov on your bat mitzvah! Thank you for inviting us to celebrate this important milestone with you."
What to Say in a Jewish Wedding Card
Many of the traditional wedding wishes you would use for a secular marriage would be appropriate for a Jewish wedding, but if you would like to tailor your greeting to the faith of it's recipients, you could use one of the following greetings in your card:
“Mazel Tov! Warmest congratulations on your wedding day. May you always be blessed.”
“Mazel Tov on your wedding day! May today be the first day of a long, loving, happy marriage!”