Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is upon us, and like most religious holidays, it brings with it many food-related traditions. Even my Jewish friends who are generally non-observant make it a point to have a round challah or apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah. Here's a list of some of the most common Rosh Hashanah foods:
Apples and Honey Dip the apples in the honey and make a wish for a sweet New Year...the Lord did promise the Israelites "a land flowing with milk and honey," after all.
Round Challah A braided loaf of challah is traditional, of course, at every Shabbat, when it is used as part of Kabbalat Shabbat. At Rosh Hashanah, though, round challah is used to symbolize continuity. Raisins and/or honey can be added for extra sweetness.
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Whole Fish In some communities, it is traditional to eat or at least plate a whole fish on the Rosh Hashanah table, the head and tail symbolizing the beginning and end of the year. The fish also connect to the tradition of tashlich, or the symbolic casting of sins (in the form of bread or crumbs) into a body of water. Fish are the only ones who then see (and consume) those sins.
Pomegranate This beautiful and slightly high-maintenance fruit shows up all over map with mythology and belief, including the famous story of Persephone. In Jewish tradition, the pomegranate is said to contain 613 seeds, aligning with the 613 mitzvot, or prescribed good deeds. It's also a "new" fruit in the fall season, reminding its eaters of the earth's bounty and the magic of the harvest.
Check out the video above, which my Jewish students insist on watching every year. Fair warning, though, that song is contagious! L'Shana Tova!