Back in 1897, when two Lower East Side rabbis tried to bless the “new sun”—a once-in-28-years Jewish ritual event—they got in trouble with the law. According to a report in the New York Times dated April 8, 1897, a local police officer became alarmed by a crowd of “Hebrews” that had converged on Tompkins Square at 8 a.m. without a permit. The rabbis, transplants from Europe, were unsuccessful in their attempts to explain this obscure tradition in broken English to an Irish police officer, leaving him more suspicious than curious.
One rabbi fled in fear, the other was arraigned but then dismissed. Fast forward 112 years later, we’ll greet another solar cycle this April 2009. Now well illuminated by English language literature and extensive media coverage, this solar event should leave few in the dark on the morning of April 8, when Jews convene everywhere, permits in hand, to bless the “new sun.”
click here to view a pdf file of the article as it appeared in the New York Times.