Christian Hegemony and the Calendar -5780!

September 17, 2019 Jonah Aline Daniel

Christian Hegemony and the Calendar -5780!

by Toby Kramer and Jonah Aline Daniel


 Art from the cover of  "5780: More Sweet Justice"


What does it mean to live in two calendars? Can celebrating Rosh Hashanah,

the Jewish New Year, be an act of resisting Christian Hegemony?


The Gregorian calendar, also known as the “Western” or “Christian” calendar

marks year zero as the birth of Jesus, counting down backwards with the marker

B.C. for “Before Christ” and afterwards as A.D. for “Anno Domini” or “Year of our

Lord.” To make this calendar less overtly Jesus-centric, some people began using

“BCE” for “Before Common Era” and “CE” or “Common Era” instead of B.C. and A.D.

According to this Calendar we are currently in 2016 A.D. (or C.E.), or two thousand

and sixteen years after the birth of Jesus.


In contrast, the Hebrew or Jewish calendar marks year zero as the

beginning of creation, calculated based on biblical references (not archeologically

accurate!). With this Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year, we are entering year

5777. But aside from different years, one of the most striking differences between

the Gregorian calendar and the Hebrew calendar is the conception of time itself.

There is a theory that, since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the

Romans, Jews began locating the sacred in time rather than place. As Rabbi Heschel

wrote, “the Sabbaths are our great cathedrals; and our Holy of Holies [Yom Kippur]

is a shrine that neither the Romans nor the Germans were able to burn.” The

distinction between holy time and mundane time is the backbone of the Havdallah

ritual, which closes Shabbat. (Stay tuned for more on the sacred shrine-keeping and alter building in Jewish women's history, obscured by patriarchy among other forces).


Unlike the Gregorian calendar, which divides each day into a uniform 24 hour

period, the Hebrew calendar measures each day as the time from sundown to

sundown – which leaves scarcely any days with the exact same amount of (western)

time. For ritual purposes, an hour is defined as 1/12 of the time between sunup and

sundown. This means that Summer and Winter have an equal number of daylight

hours, but Summer hours are longer than Winter ones. Each day is unique; time is

cyclical but not interchangeable. These contrasting systems of tracking – and

evaluating – time offer us a choice about how to conceptualize time and our location

in it as we move through the High Holy Day season.


How do you experience the passage of time in different seasons?  

What are the sensations of these experiences?

What does your presence make possible or bring into your awareness?


For more about Christian Hegemony visit Paul Kivel’s website:


5780: More Sweet Justice

Looking for a Jewish calendar and want one that's a change of pace from all the ones put out by Chabad and cemeteries? Check out 5780: More Sweet Justice

A 5777 calendar, organized by Jewish month. Each month features art, culture and knowledge made by the brilliant and beautiful Jewish left. A celebration of Jewish culture that is intersectional, queer, feminist, anti-racist, and that challenges and builds a Judaism and Jewishness beyond Zionism. 



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