Some Hebrew calendar basics

In the Jewish lunisolar calendar, the months are measured according to the moon, and the years in accordance with the solar cycle. Adjustment is obtained by adding a thirteenth month 7 times during each 19 year cycle. Further fine-tuning is achieved by adjusting the length of the month, which can be either 29 or 30 days long. The Jewish calendar starts with the Biblical creation of the earth, 3760 BC. The year 2000 AD corresponded with the last digit of the Jewish year 5760. To convert a Gregorian year AD into a Jewish year: add 3760. To convert a Jewish year into a year AD: subtract 3760.

Most Hebrew dates on Israel's coins and currency correspond with their Gregorian equivalents: The Jewish year 5760 corresponded with 2000 AD, etc. However, the Jewish year advances the year AD by about 3 - 3½ months, starts in the fall (September or October) of the previous year AD, and runs through about 9 months of the current year AD. Coins issued during the last few months of a certain year AD are thus dated one year ahead according to the Hebrew calendar. For instance, Hanukka (Feast of Lights) is celebrated in December, about 3 months after the beginning of the Jewish year, but still within the preceding year AD. Hence, Hanukka coins issued in the year 2000 were dated 5761 - not 5760.

Two methods are used to depict the Jewish year in Hebrew characters. The 'short version' deletes the 'Heh', the fifth character in the Hebrew alphabet, corresponding with the first digit '5'.The 'long version' depicts the Jewish year in full.In daily use, especially on Israeli wall and desk calendars, diaries and official documents, the short version is regularly seen. On Israel's coins the short version was used until 1981. Since 1982 only the long version is in use (in 1980-81 both versions were used). For instance, a coin issued in 1970 was short-dated 730 instead of 5730, but a 1990-dated coin reads 5750 in full. On all dated Israeli banknotes, the 'long version' has been in use.

Use the conversion chart on this page to quickly convert dates between the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars and identify Hebrew dates on Israel's coins and currency 1948 - 2020, presuming continued use of the 'long version'.


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