Photo Credit: Jewish Press

In Israel, mention Rishon (as in proper name, capital R – though there’s no such thing as capital resh) and you’re most likely referring to one of two things: Sunday, the first day of the week, or Rishon LeZion, the first Zionist settlement in Israel, founded by Eastern European pioneers in 1882. The city, Israel’s fourth largest, is known as Rishon for short; its name derives from a pasuk in Yeshayahu prophesying our return to Zion. Being first is usually considered a good thing – first come, first served and all that. Then again, there’s also the saying “Acharon acharon chaviv,” the Hebrew version of “last but not least.” Interestingly, there was apparently an Israeli radio show with the clever name Rishon Rishon Chaviv which ran from 1957-74. It featured a hit parade of chart-topping popular music. While referring to something as first usually connotes the existence of a second (and perhaps a third and so on), there is one exception: As we say in Adon olam, “V’Hu rishon v’ayn shaini” – Hashem is first; there is no second.

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Ziona Greenwald, a contributing editor to The Jewish Press, is a freelance writer and editor and the author of two children's books, “Kalman's Big Questions” and “Tzippi Inside/Out.” She lives with her family in Jerusalem.