What does the Jewish year mean, anyway?

Tomorrow at sundown begins Rosh Hashanah and the Jewish year 5772.

Five years ago, I wrote an article about the meaning of the Jewish calendar. Officially, it’s 5,772 years since creation.

But we all know that all Jews do not believe the same things about such things.

I wrote at the time:

“The Jewish calendar year was formulated long ago by rabbinic authorities who wove together a Torah-based family tree of the patriarchs. Adam, of course, is at the top, and he was said to have lived to the age of 930.

The branches continued through Noah, who arrived 10 generations later and also made it to 930, through Abraham another 10 generations later — who died at a relatively young 175 — and on and on.

After all the calculations were done, many based on estimates from unclear biblical accounts, creation was set to the year 3761 B.C.E.”

The world of science, meanwhile, holds that the universe is billions of years old. Maybe 13 billion (give or take a few million).

Big difference.

Much is made of the fact that some evangelical Christians disregard science and hold that the world is actually around 6,000 years old. But what do the Jews believe?

Back in 2006, Rabbi Elizabeth Dunsker, formerly of the Reform Temple of Suffern, told me: “We celebrate the biblical view of the world, but from a Reform perspective, we don’t separate ourselves from a scientific understanding of the universe, of evolution. Intelligent people can have contradictory ideas in their heads.”

David Kraemer, a professor in the Talmud and Rabbinics department at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC, told me: “All attempts to do the counting are flawed. All calendars are, in some sense, arbitrary. But the number is important because this is how the Jews count.”

Rabbi Moshe Elefant, an official with the Orthodox Union, told me: “As far as Orthodoxy Jewry is concerned, the number is the number. How it conforms with what science seems to have proven, that the world is much older than that, is open to interpretation. But it doesn’t change the basic belief of every religious Jew that (tonight) the world will have a birthday, its 5,767th.”

Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for Agudath Israel, an Orthodox group, told me then that the six days of creation may not have been “ordinary days.”

He said: “The happenings of the week of creation, other than what the Bible tells us, are unknown. Then there is the moment of creation, in which untold aging of the universe could have taken place. One could also theorize that time worked differently. Einstein did describe a universe in which time is relevant to the observer.”

“Torah tells us to perceive the world as 5,767 years old,” Shafran said.

So there you go.

Jets’ schedule is meshugah!

Boy, if you’re a Jewish Jets fan and you’re paying big money for season tickets, you can’t be happy.

A full quarter of the Jets’ home games next season fall out on the High Holy Days.

The Jets’ home opener is on Rosh Hashanah and their second game, also at home, will end on the eve of Yom Kippur.

The NFL offices are in NYC, so you would think someone there knows that there are a lot of Jews in New York.

Jets owner Woody Johnson isn’t happy. In a letter to the league, he wrote: “I am extremely disappointed with the league’s decision to schedule us to play at home on consecutive Sundays that are in direct conflict with the Jewish High Holy Days. There has long been an understanding that neither the Jets not the Giants fans should have to bear completely the brunt of this issue since we are in the largest Jewish market in the country.”

I would expect the NFL to relent on this one and make a schedule change. We’ll see.

UPDATE: The Jets’ game on the eve of Yom Kippur has been moved from 4:15 p.m. to 1 p.m. so Jewish fans can make it home in time for services.

Still, have you ever tried to leave the Meadowlands after a Jets or Giants game? It can take hours to get out of the swamp.

Jewish fans will still be cutting it close to make Kol Nidre.

Watch out for fake shofars

Jews everywhere will soon hear the blowing of the shofar, ushering in Rosh Hashanah and the “Days of Awe.”

Tonight begins the Jewish year 5769.

466689468_4e85209140.jpgBut not all shofars are kosher.

The Forward reports that there is a black market of sorts for fake shofars, horns that have not been hallowed in accordance with Jewish law.

A real shofar, for instance, must be one, whole piece. But some black-market horns have small pieces glued in place.

The article points out that if a synagogue gets hold of a fake, it may unknowingly use it for a long time.

One fellow who blows the shofar in Jerusalem told the paper: “It is difficult to overlook the irony that the shofar, of all things, a tool for repentance on the day when we atone for our sins, is being used to advance somebody’s personal wealth with disregard for ethics.”