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What is the cycle of the Jewish calendar?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

Library » Miscellaneous » The Jewish Calendar | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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1. Tishrei, Shevat, Adar I (in case of a Leap Year), Nissan, Sivan and Av are always 30 days. Tevet, Adar (in a non-leap year) and Adar II (of a leap year), Iyar, Tammuz and Elul are always 29 days. Cheshvan and Kislev fluctuate, depending on the year.

2. The Jewish calendar runs in 19 year cycles. Years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19 are leap years. This way, every 19 years the Jewish calendar will be exactly caught up with the solar calendar. For this reason, every 19 years your Jewish and secular birthday will fall out on the same day.1


[Ed. note: Also read about "How does the Jewish calendar work?"]

Footnotes

  • 1. There is a quirk in the calendar which will sometimes cause this calculation to be off by one day.

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Leap Year
Every 2-3 years an extra month is added to the Jewish calendar. Since the lunar year, which Jews follow, is 11 days shorter than the solar year, it is necessary to keep pace, so that holidays corresponding to certain seasons remain in sync. On a leap year, a second month of Adar is added.
Shevat
The eleventh month on the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to January-February.
Tishrei
The seventh month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which arrives in early autumn, has more holidays than any other month: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
Adar
The twelfth month on the Jewish calendar. This month (which falls out approx. February-March), is the most joyous month on the calendar due to the holiday of Purim which is on the 14th and 15th of this month.
Nissan
The first month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which falls out in early spring, is known for the holiday of Passover which starts on the 15th of Nissan.
Tevet
The tenth month on the Jewish calendar. Falls out in mid-winter.
Iyar
The second month on the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to April-May. The 18th of this month is the holiday of Lag b'Omer.
Sivan
The third month on the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to May-June. This month features the holiday of Shavuot.
Kislev
The ninth month on the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to November-December. The holiday of Chanukah starts on the 25th of this month.
Elul
The 6th month on the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to August-September. This is the month which precedes Tishrei, the month of the High Holidays, and is a month of introspection and repentance.
Cheshvan
The eighth month of the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to October-November.
Av
The fifth month of the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to July-August. The saddest month of the year due to the destruction of the Temples, and the many other tragedies which befell the Jews in this month.
Tammuz
The fourth month on the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to June-July.