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Sweet Food Traditions for Rosh Hashanah

Renee Eder on Monday, September 26, 2016

Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) marks the beginning of the autumnal High Holy Day season. For the Jewish people, it is a time when humanity is judged for its deeds during the prior year. For those who celebrate, it is a time of inner renewal and divine atonement.

One of the reasons that I love Rosh Hashanah, is because like many of our holidays, Rosh Hashanah's rituals revolve around food, with a number of symbolic dishes being served. For instance, it is customary to have big feasts on both nights of Rosh Hashanah and there are a plethora of delicious customary dishes, including: brisket, tzimmes and other traditional Rosh Hashanah recipes. On Rosh Hashanah, we try to refrain from bitter, sour and tart foods, and to eat foods that symbolize hope for a sweet, pleasant year ahead. The following are some of the sweet foods of Rosh Hashanah:

  • Apples & Honey: Sweet honey represents the wish for a sweet new year. On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, apple slices are dipped into honey and a prayer is said to ask for a sweet year to come.
  • Round Challah: Challah, a braided egg bread, is shaped into rounds to represent the unending cycle of life and the prayer that another year will be granted. It is often dipped into honey for the same reason as the apple slices.
  • Pomegranates: Pomegranates symbolize the hope that good deeds in the upcoming year will be as plentiful as the many seeds of the fruit. It is also said that the pomegranate contains 613 seeds, just as there are 613 commandments in the Torah.
  • Honey Cake: Many households bake honey cakes for Rosh Hashanah as well. The cake is generally made with autumnal spices (such as cinnamon, cloves and allspice) and different family recipes may call for the use of coffee, tea or orange juice for added flavor.
  • Whole Fish: Rosh Hashanah literally translated is “head of the year” in Hebrew, and some Jewish communities traditionally serve a fish with the head intact during the holiday meal. It is also an ancient symbol of fertility and abundance.

At the J, we wish the entire Jewish Community, L’Shanah Tovah – “For A Good Year!” For those who celebrate, we hope you enjoy a meaningful holiday with family, friends, and lots of delicious (and sweet) foods to enjoy!

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