Sunday, January 23, 2011

Understanding the Jewish Calendar

Detail of Medieval Hebrew Calendar
I am happy to say that I am already back on a positive footing with lectures.  Today's talk by Steve Morse, "The Jewish Calendar Demystified", was informative and entertaining.  I always enjoy Steve's presentations, and I never fail to learn from him.  I found out it was entirely reasonable for me to be confused about how the Jewish calendar works.  It's very complicated, with lots of rules and exceptions and corrective formulas.  Luckily, as he pointed out, nobody really needs to know how to do this by hand nowadays; we have computer programs that do it for us.  I'm certainly not an expert now, but the calendar makes a lot more sense to me than it used to.  And along with educating attendees about the calendar, Steve explained how the letters in the Hebrew alphabet are used as numbers and how to read dates on tombstones.

Steve has made this lecture available, with his other talks, on his famous One-Step Website (  "The Jewish Calendar Demystified" is at  True, it isn't the same as seeing him give the presentation, but the information is all there.  While you're on the site, check out the other talks and the incredibly useful utilities he has created for transliteration, better searches, and more.  If you don't already have his site bookmarked, I'm sure you'll find a reason to do so.

Steve's talk today was at a meeting of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society (  We in SFBAJGS are fortunate to have Steve as a member.

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