Birkat Hachamah: Blessing the Sun

God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night . . . And it was evening and it was morning, a fourth day.
—Genesis 1:16, 19

One who sees the sun at its turning point should say, “Blessed is He who reenacts the works of Creation.” And when is this? Abaya said: every 28th year.
—Talmud, Tractate Berachot 59b

It happens once in a generation: The moment when, according to Talmudic tradition, the sun returns to the same position, at the same time and day, that it appeared at the beginning of all creation. Observant Jews mark the occasion, which occurs every 28 years, with a special blessing called Birkat Hachamah, the sun blessing.

Today, Birkat Hachamah ceremonies large and small were held around the world. This one, organized by Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin of Congregation Bnai Avraham and Chabad of Brooklyn Heights, took place on the steps of Borough Hall.

The crowd began to gather early

Copies of the blessing were distributed

Children read aloud

A brother and sister reading

This kid reminds me of Kenny from South Park

This girl wasn’t camera-shy

The wind blew, but she didn’t lose her place

Among those reciting the blessing was Borough President Marty Markowitz (right)

After the blessing, singing …

.. and dancing

The women danced together

The men formed a circle

Friends laughed together

The rabbi kicked up his heels

Congregation Bnai Avraham
Chabad of Brooklyn Heights
Birkat HaChamah, The Blessing of the Sun, 2009
NY Times: For Jews, Another 28 Years, Another Blessing of the Sun
Bless The Sun
Chabad: Thank G-d for the Sun
Kenny from South Park

6 Responses to Birkat Hachamah: Blessing the Sun

  1. Olivier says:

    superbe reportage, j’adore la dernière photo.
    superb report, I love the last photograph.


  2. Monika N. says:

    A wonderful report, Annulla! Thanks so very much. I always love a *glimpse* into a world I don’t know. It wasn’t very warm, it seems. Everybody is packed up in warm winter clothes ^-^ (we had a 25 deg C day yesterday…).


  3. Esther says:

    Looks like a very interesting experience! I never saw a rabbi dancing before!


  4. Nancy says:

    I never knew about this! Thank you for such an interesting explanation, and pictures, too. I was just thinking this afternoon that it was on Thursday that Jesus took His last Passover meal with His disciples, and today is the first day of Passover.


  5. photowannabe says:

    This is such a nice post. I love the picture of the Rabbi “kicking” up his heels.


  6. elianenyc says:

    The last picture is just perfect! Great post.


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