Being grateful is a central theme of Judaism, especially on Rosh Hashanah when we take inventory of all the blessings in our lives. We turn to God and offer thanks for our abundance, even during the darkest times.
In one of the most recognized and quoted texts in Jewish thought, Pirke Avot (written around the year 200 CE), we learn “Who is rich? Those who rejoice in their own portion.”
On this Rosh Hashanah, don’t just show up. Be ready!
The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is unlike the celebration of the secular New Year because the resolutions we make are not only to ourselves but to God. Whereas a typical New Year’s resolution on the first of January might be to go the gym and lose a few pounds, the Jewish New Year is a time to really work up a sweat and ask God as our personal trainer to help make us stronger and a better person in the year ahead.
Whether you’re looking for interesting new recipes for Rosh Hashanah or just want a fun Girl’s Night Out, join our Israeli cooking demo and tasting on September 10, 7-9 p.m., with Renee Chernin, an international speaker and author of the widely acclaimed Cooking for the King, Rosh Hashanah Edition.
Presented by The Jewish Women’s Society, this kosher food fest, called “Success in Elul,” is open to everyone in the community. Chernin promises to feed the soul with recipes like the sweet and crunchy Shana Tova salad, which she describes as a “one jewel toned salad that has become a holiday tradition and is so beautiful it can be the centerpiece for your Yom Tov table.”
The Jewish New Year is off to a sweet start as I pluck another huge yellowish-pink Honeycrisp apple that hangs heavy on a leafy tree branch. I open my mouth wide and bite into the succulent, crunchy fruit and let the juice drip down my chin and make my face sticky. On Rosh Hashanah, apple picking is a great tradition for several reasons. It brings my family together; it symbolizes sweetness for the year ahead; and it’s an opportunity to share the gleanings, or extra crops, with those who are hungry and less fortunate at a local food pantry. Plus, I have an excuse to make a lot of yummy recipes, including apple raisin koogle, applesauce, apple crisp, apple salad, and whatever new treat I can find like honey mustard chicken with apples. (It must have something to do with fasting on Yom Kippur in 10 days).
While other religions talk about sin and confession, Judaism has its own way of cleansing the soul. It’s called the Days of Awe, a spiritual journey that begins in the Hebrew month of Elul, which directly precedes Rosh Hashanah.
Rosh Hashana is the Hebrew word for “head of the year” and occurs on the first days of Tishri. Rosh Hashana begins the period called teshuvah, Hebrew for “returning to God,” or Ten Days of Repentance. It’s a time for serious introspection, a time to reflect on how we’ve behaved over the past year, and how we can do better in the next one. It’s a time to ask forgiveness for saying or doing something hurtful to a loved one. It’s a joyful yet solemn time to make amends and do whatever it takes to move on and learn by our mistakes. When we make peace with God and another human being, we make peace with ourselves. Sounds like free therapy, only sweeter. Continue reading
An annual fall outing to the apple orchard is a fun way for families to kick off the New Year. The tart, juicy apples are as crisp as the autumn air, and with each bite I taste the new season. Whenever I go apple picking I feel like a kid again. I also seem to lose my table manners. Where else can I gnaw on a piece of fruit and nonchalantly drop the rotten core at my feet? Likewise, I abandon all sense of safety when I ride the bumpy tractor-pulled wagon and fling a half-eaten apple across the gravel road. Continue reading
The memorable sound of the shofar is a highlight of Rosh Hashanah, especially for children who wait patiently through the songs and prayers of the service. As a young girl growing up in a reformed temple, the sharp, loud sound of the ancient ram’s horn was my signal. It told me that the service was almost over, which meant that I finally could eat bobka and change out of my itchy dress. Today, I still look forward to hearing the first blast of tekiah, but for a much different reason. Now that I have children of my own, the unique sounds of the shofar represent a new beginning, not an end, to something special. Continue reading
With a year-round cycle of major and minor holidays, Jewish people have plenty of opportunities to count their blessings and be thankful. After all, we’re lucky enough to celebrate at least one festive occasion in every season, including Rosh Hashana in the fall, Chanukah in the winter, Passover in the Spring, and Tu B’Av (like a Jewish Valentine’s Day) in the summer. Plus, with all the religious traditions and rituals in between, from Sukkot to Shavuot, we always have a holy excuse to go off our diets. That’s right, the symbolic Jewish calendar is filled with reasons to party and nosh on foods that are as mouthwatering as they are meaningful. Continue reading