Some background and recipes for the New Year.
We incorporate certain foods into our celebration of the High Holy Days because of custom not Talmudic dictate. The only prescription in the Bible is for Hiddur Mitzvah taking the extra time to make our holiday table and ourselves morebeautiful by using our best china and silver or getting our hair cut and wearing new clothes for the holiday. The Talmud actually prescribes that you must get a new outfit! Through these actions, we enhance the meaning of the High Holy Days.
The choices of food to represent the holiday depended on the region, societal customs and socio-economic standing of the Jews. Ashkenazi Jews expressed their wish for a sweet and fruitful year by dipping apples and challah in honey, Sephardim dip challah into a sweet preserve of grated apples scented with rose water and have Seders containing seven foods with seven blessings. It is also customary to serve fruit in covered baskets so no one knows what’s inside just as no one knows what the new year will bring.
Normally two loaves of elongated challah are served for Shabbat, but for the High Holy Days a round challah, sometimes containing raisins, is customary. The round challah is fraught with meaning; it is the crown of G-D our King, or it represents a year filled with never-ending good. A ladder of dough placed on top represents who will ascend or descend in health or wealth in the coming year or our wishes going to heaven and the decree coming down from on high, Alesser known custom is to bake the challah in the shape of a bird or place a bird of dough on top of the challah. This custom of the Magreb is based on Isaiah 31:5 “As hovering birds, so will the Lord protect,
Memories often dictate what is on your table; the kiddush cup from your wedding, your grandmother’s special apple plate or the hand embroidered cross stitch table cloth that your mother created one summer when you were away at camp. Whatever it is, it has a place of honor in your home and in your heart.
Food choices are often dictated by our memories as well. My family and friends remember the special foods I make each year and they have high expectations. They expect to devour my “killer” kugel and challah and they know, that in an effort to make our Jewish Diaspora smaller I will incorporate traditional dishes from Jewish communities all over the world into my buffet.
Whatever you do and whatever you cook, enjoy the process. Establish some culinary memories for your family and have a Happy and Healthy New Year.
Eat In Good Health!
Recipes to Try: