Judaising your Desktop (4): Israeli and Jewish holidays in Outlook 2003

by Maskil on February 21, 2008

Like many of us, you probably spend a large part of your working day in an e-mail/PIM application. Things being as they are, the chances are that the application is one of the versions of Microsoft Outlook.

Some users of Outlook 2003 would have noticed that their Outlook Calendar does not reflect any Israeli or other public holidays or Jewish religious holidays for 2008 or later. The reason for this is that, when launched, Outlook 2003 included recognised holidays only up to the end of 2007. In order for Outlook to include holidays for 2008 onwards, it is necessary to apply an update provided by Microsoft and edit some of your Calendar settings.

Although this posting is specifically directed towards users of Outlook 2003 (or Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, to give the product its correct title), users of other versions of Outlook may also get value from it. Even if your country’s public holidays are up to date, you may still want to add the Israeli public holidays or Jewish religious holidays to Outlook.

This is more in the nature of a fix than an enhancement. The assumptions are that you’re using one of the later versions of Windows (probably XP), you’re located in one of the English-speaking Western democracies (or you’re an English speaker in Israel), and that your PC is configured accordingly. The procedure below should be carried out in roughly the sequence given below. Steps have been outlined only briefly, as the Microsoft and third party documentation do an excellent job of providing the detail.

Add Israeli public holidays and Jewish religious holidays to Outlook

Start off by exiting from Outlook 2003 and any other running applications. This is the standard advice given when installing any new/upgraded component on your PC.

Determine whether you have the correct version of the Outlook holiday file. For Outlook 2003 the file name should be Outlook.hol with a date of 12-Sep-2006 or later. (Perform a search for the file on your C:\ Drive.)

If your Outlook.hol file has an earlier date, you will need to download and apply the update described in the Microsoft Support knowledge base article KB924423. Links have been provided below.

Alternatively (if you haven’t already done so) you may want to install Office 2003 Service Pack 3. The links to a description of this service pack (SP) and the download area have also been included below.

Once you have successfully downloaded and installed either the fix or the service pack and verified the Outlook.hol date stamp, run Outlook 2003.

Add the holidays (through to 2012) to your Calendar folder by following these steps:

Click Tools | Options

From the Preferences tab, click Calendar Options

From the Calendar Options dialog box click Add Holidays

From the Add Holidays to Calendar dialog box, check the following “locations”:

  • Your country (if in the Diaspora)
  • Israel
  • Jewish Religious Holidays

Click OK

You may receive warnings to the effect that “Holidays for [location] are already installed. Do you want to install them again?” It should be safe to click OK, as holidays prior to 2008 are not included in the updated Outlook holiday file.

The selected locations’ holidays for 2008 through 2012 should now appear in your Calendar.

In the event that holidays are duplicated for some reason, follow the procedure below to remove the duplicates (or download a utility to remove them automatically).

  • Open your calendar.
  • On the View menu, point to Arrange By, click Current View, and then click Events.
  • Click the Location column heading to sort the list of holidays by country.
  • Click to select the first holiday that you want to delete.
  • Hold down the Shift key, and then select the last holiday that you want to delete.
  • Press Delete to remove all the selected holidays from your calendar.

But wait, we’re not done yet. You can also give the following features of your Outlook Calendar a Blue and White look and feel:

(All of these options can be accessed from Tools | Options | [Preferences tab] | Calendar Options.)

Set First day of week to Sunday

Under Calendar work week, set First day of week to Sunday

Enable alternate calendar: Hebrew Lunar

Under Advanced Options, check Enable alternate calendar and set the alternate calendar to Hebrew Lunar (this assumes that your default calendar is set to English or another European language)

Show an additional time zone: IST

  • Under Advanced options, click Time Zone.
  • From the Time Zone dialog box, check Show an additional time zone.
  • For the Label, enter IST
  • Select (GMT+02:00) Jerusalem for the Time zone
  • Check the Adjust for daylight saving time box

Click OK until all dialog boxes are closed and your new options are saved.

Various subtle changes will now be reflected in your Outlook Calendar, depending which view you are using.

While you may still require a paper, software or web-based Luach for more specialised applications, setting the above options in Outlook will help keep you more connected to “Jewish time”, whether you’re in Israel or the Diaspora.

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