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A perpetual Jewish Calendar

by Danny Sadinoff portions by Michael J. Radwin


Hebcal is a program which prints out the days in the Jewish calendar for a given Gregorian year. Hebcal is fairly flexible in terms of which events in the Jewish calendar it displays. Each of the following can be individualy turned on or off:

  • The Hebrew date
  • Jewish Holidays (including Yom Ha'atzmaut and Yom HaShoah etc.)
  • The weekly Sedrah
  • The day of the week
  • The days of the Omer


usage: hebcal [options] [[ month [ day ]] year ]
       hebcal help
       hebcal info
       hebcal cities
       hebcal warranty
       hebcal copying

Hebcal prints out Hebrew calendars one solar year at a time. Given one argument, it will print out the calendar for that year. Given two numeric arguments mm yyyy, it prints out the calendar for month mm of year yyyy.

For example, hebcal -ho will just print out the days of the omer for the current year. Note: Use COMPLETE Years. You probably aren't interested in hebcal 93, but rather hebcal 1993.


General options

Option Description
--help Show help text
--version Show version number

Input Options

Option Description
-H, --hebrew-date Use Hebrew date ranges - only needed when e.g. hebcal -H 5373
-I, --infile INFILE Get non-yahrtzeit Hebrew user events from specified file. The format is: mmm dd string, Where mmm is a Hebrew month name.
-t, --today Only output for today's date
-T, --today-brief Print today's pertinent information, no Gregorian date.
-Y, --yahrtzeit YAHRTZEIT Get yahrtzeit dates from specified file. The format is: mm dd yyyy string. The first three fields specify a Gregorian date.

Output Options

Option Description
-8 Use 8-bit Hebrew (ISO-8859-8-Logical).
-a, --ashkenazi Use Ashkenazi Hebrew.
-d, --add-hebrew-dates print the Hebrew date for the entire date range.
-D, --add-hebrew-dates-for-events print the Hebrew date for dates with some events
-e, --euro-dates Output "European" dates -- DD.MM.YYYY format.
-E, --24hour Output 24-hour times (e.g. 18:37 instead of 6:37).
-F, --daf-yomi Output the Daf Yomi for the entire date range.
-g, --iso-8601 Output ISO 8601 dates -- YYYY-MM-DD (this overrides -y)
-h, --no-holidays Suppress default holidays.
-i, --israeli Use Israeli sedra scheme.
--lang LANG Use ISO 639-1 LANG code (one of ashkenazi, ashkenazi_litvish, ashkenazi_poylish, ashkenazi_standard, fi, fr, he, hu, pl, ru)
-M, --molad Print the molad on shabbat mevorchim.
-o, --omer Add days of the omer.
-O, --sunrise-and-sunset Output sunrise and sunset times every day.
-r, --tabs Tab delineated format.
-s, --sedrot Add weekly sedrot on Saturday.
-S, --daily-sedra Print sedrah of the week on all calendar days.
-w, --weekday Add day of the week.
-W, --abbreviated Weekly view. Omer, dafyomi, and non-date-specific zemanim are shown once a week, on the day which corresponds to the first day in the range.
-x, --no-rosh-chodesh Suppress Rosh Chodesh.
-y, --year-abbrev Print only last two digits of year.
--years N Generate events for N years (default 1)

Options related to candle-lighting times

Option Description
-b, --candle-mins mins Set candle-lighting to occur this many minutes before sundown
-c, --candlelighting Print candlelighting times.
-C, --city city Set latitude, longitude, and timezone according to specified city. This option implies the -c option.
-l, --latitude xx,yy Set the latitude for solar calculations to xx degrees and yy minutes. Negative values are south.
-L, --longitude xx,yy Set the longitude for solar calculations to xx degrees and yy minutes. Negative values are EAST. The -l and -L switches must both be used, or not at all. These switches override the -C (localize to city) switch.
-m, --havdalah-mins mins Set havdalah to occur this many minutes after sundown
-z, --timezone timezone Use specified timezone, overriding the -C (localize to city) switch.
-Z, --zmanim EXPERIMENTAL Add zemanim (Alot HaShachar; Misheyakir; Kriat Shema, sof zeman; Tefilah, sof zeman; Chatzot hayom; Mincha Gedolah; Mincha Ketanah; Plag HaMincha; Tzait HaKochavim)

Candle-lighting times

Hebcal’s candlelighting times are only approximations. If you ever have any doubts about its times, consult your local halachic authority. If you enter geographic coordinates above the artic circle or antarctic circle, the times are guaranteed to be wrong.

Hebcal contains a small database of cities with their associated geographic information and time-zone information. The geographic and time information necessary to calculate sundown times can come to hebcal any of three ways:

  1. The default: the system manager sets a default city when the program is compiled.
  2. Hebcal looks in the environment variable HEBCAL_CITY for the name of a city in hebcal’s database, and if it finds one, hebcal will make that the new default city.
  3. 1 and 2 may be overridden by command line arguments, including those specified in the HEBCAL_OPTS environment variable. The most natural way to do this is to use the −c city command. This will localize hebcal to city. A list of the cities hebcal knows about can be obtained by typing hebcal cities at the command prompt. If the city you want isn’t on that list, you can directly control hebcal’s geographic information with the −l, −L, and −z switches. Note that changing the geographic coordinates causes the timezone to default to 'UTC'. For a status report on customizations, type hebcal info at the command prompt.


Hebcal uses two environment variables:

Hebcal uses this value as the default city for sunset calculations. A list of available cities is available with from hebcal with the command: hebcal cities
The value of this variable is automatically processed as if it were typed at the command line before any other actual command-line arguments.


Danny Sadinoff

With contributions from

  • Michael J. Radwin
  • Eyal Schachter (JavaScript port)
  • Aaron Peromsik (Daf Yomi, experimental zmanim feature)
  • Ben Sandler (Molad and daily Sunrise/Sunset features)

See Also

calendar(1), emacs(1), hcal(1), hdate(1), omer(1), remind(1), rise(1)

The latest version of the code will be available from

The original motivation for the algorithms in this program was the Tur Shulchan Aruch.

For version 3, much of the program was rewritten using Emacs 19’s calendar routines by Edward M. Reingold and Nachum Dershowitz. Their program is extremely clear and provides many instructive examples of fine calendar code in emacs-LISP.

For version 4, candle-lighting times were rewritting using Derick Rethans's timelib.

A well written treatment of the Jewish calendar for the layman can be found in Understanding the Jewish Calendar by Rabbi Nathan Bushwick. A more complete bibliography on the topic can be found there, as well as in the Encyclopedia Judaica entry on the calendar.


hebcal help
Prints a shorter version of this manpage, with comments on each option.
hebcal info
Prints the version number and default values of the program.
hebcal cities
Prints a list of cities which hebcal knows about, suitable as arguments to the −C city option.
hebcal copying
Prints the GNU license, with information about copying the program. See below.
hebcal warranty
Tells you how there’s NO WARRANTY for hebcal.


This is just a program I wrote during summer school and while avoiding my senior project. It should not be invested with any sort of halachic authority.


Hebrew dates are only valid before sundown on that secular date. An option to control this will be added in a later release.

Negative longitudes are EAST of Greenwich.

Some combinations of options produce weird results, e.g. hebcal -dH nisan 5744 hebcal -dH 5744 This comes into play when you use the HEBCAL_OPTS environment variable.

The sunup/sundown routines aren’t accurate enough. If you enter geographic coordinates above the artic circle or antarctic circle, the times are guaranteed to be wrong.

Hebcal only translates between the Gregorian calendar and the Jewish calendar. This means that the results will be at least partly useless where and when the Gregorian calendar was not used, e.g. before the 1752 in Britain and before circa 1918 in Russia. See "Daylight saving time" on Wikipedia for a splendid chart depicting when the changeover from the Julian to the Gregorian calendars occurred in various places.

Hebcal cannot handle date computations before 2 C.E. sorry.

Build & Install

To build hebcal from the source repository, you'll need a few more tools than are needed in order to build from distributions. In particular, you'll need

  • GNU autoconf version 2.59
  • GNU automake version 1.9.5 or later
  • GNU m4 version 1.4.3 or later
  • GNU make v3.79 or later
  • Perl v5.0 or later

Once you have those, you can prepare the build environment as follows:

aclocal && autoconf && automake --foreign --add-missing && ./configure && make

If you would like customize the program for your city, pass additional options to configure above.

Examine cities.h. If your city is in there, run configure using the --with-default-city=CITYNAME option as follows:

./configure --with-default-city=Chicago

you may have to quote spaces:

./configure --with-default-city="Los Angeles"

If your city is NOT on the list, then in order to customize hebcal to your city, you will need to pass it the latitude, longitude, and timezone (see the manual).

Suppose you live in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Your lattitude is 44d1'29", and your longitude is 88d32'33". You are in timezone America/Chicago. We'll round the geographic coordinates to the nearest minute.

In order to get candlelighting times for the current year, you would type

hebcal -ch -l44,1 -L 88,33 -z America/Chicago

Now this can get rough on the fingers if you do it a lot, so the HEBCAL_OPTS environment variable is available for you to use. Every time hebcal is run, it checks this variable. If it is non-empty, the arguments in that variable are read as though they were typed at the command line before the ones you actually type.

So you might set HEBCAL_OPTS to be

-l44,1 -L 88,33 -z America/Chicago

and if you type hebcal -ch hebcal will think you typed hebcal -l44,1 -L 88,33 -z America/Chicago -ch

REMEMBER: negative longitudes are EAST of Greenwich.

For information on setting environment variables, consult your local guru.

Once an install is complete, there are three ways to change cities, or pick a city not on the list:

  1. change the CITY environment variable
  2. change the HEBCAL_OPTS variable to reflect the new city's coordinates.
  3. pass a -C city argument to hebcal.

You can check where hebcal thinks it is by typing hebcal info at the command line.


Copyright (C) 1994-2011 Danny Sadinoff Portions Copyright (c) 2011 Michael J. Radwin. All Rights Reserved.

Hebcal is distributed under the GNU Public License. The program and its source code may be freely distributed. For details, see the file COPYING in the distribution.

If you are going to use this program, please drop me a line. I'd like to know who you are, what version you're using, and how you're using hebcal, and anything else you'd like to tell me, so that I can adjust the program to meet users' needs.

I am NOT demanding payment for the use of my program, but writing this program DID take time. The "free" in the GNU public license refers to distribution, not necessarily payment. Feel free to send $10 or multiples of $18 or just a postcard to me at my US Mail address (email me for it).

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