Sunday, October 2, 2016

Rosh Hashana Menu With Symbols

From a previous year. Too busy blogging to have set the table yet.
There is a Rosh Hashana tradition of eating symbolic foods at the meal. The symbols are based on puns from old and obscure Hebrew and Aramaic words relating to good and bad things that we do and don't want for the coming year. If it's a bad thing we say we don't want this and if it's a good thing we say we do want it. Some people do a whole ceremony of saying blessings over the different foods and repeating verses 3, 7, or 10 times that connect to the food in some way. It's all very contrived, ancient, and quite frankly, boring.

In recent years my friends on facebook have been making up new symbols for foods, still based on puns, but with English as well as Hebrew. One hilarious symbol this year was to wrap fruit in Kleenex (clean Kleenex of course) that we should be fruitful and multi-ply. You get the idea. It's all a bit silly but lots of fun.

First night:
Apple juice spritzers (apple juice with soda water) drunk with a straw for a successful year (suck-cess).

You're supposed to make a blessing over wine (or grape juice for the children) but what's so special about grapes except that traditionally people drank wine? They probably would have done themselves a favour had they drunk apple juice instead.

Beigels instead of challah. They are round symbolizing the circle of the year and the cycle of life. (It's traditional to eat round challah instead of the plaited challah but we love beigels so that's what we're having.)
Egg salad because eggs are also round (cycle of life, circle of the year) and DD likes it.
Butter that we should be better people.
Brie because the Hebrew word for health is briut. So we should have a healthy year.
Almonds to make amends for anything we did wrong last year.

Lettuce and onion soup made with a whole head of lettuce for the head of the year. A fish head is traditional - yeah right.

We don't need a main course as it's just the two of us.

Fruit salad with maple syrup for a sweet year. It's traditional to dip apple in honey at the beginning of the meal for a sweet year, and also to eat a new fruit. We don't like honey and we don't like sweet food before dessert, so all the above is covered in our fruit salad.
Vanilla ice-cream because it would be rude not to and we don't want to be rude next year.

First day:
We have a kiddush (brunch) at our synagogue where everyone brings something. I'm taking stuffed vine leaves. They come in a tin but I'm decanting them into a tupperware box. Well everyone else produces amazing dishes so I'm not turning up with a couple of tins am I? Vine leaves in Hebrew are aleh gefen so if I eat four of them I might be all forgiven (aleh 4 gefen).

Second night:
Apple juice spritzers and straws again, for a successful year.

Round gluten-free rolls instead of challah (our guest has to eat gluten-free) for the circle of the year and the cycle of life.
Egg Salad, butter, brie and almonds again for the same reasons as yesterday - cycle of life, be better, healthy and make amends.

Salmon mayonaise for a happy year (sameakh).
Sweet potato puree and peas for no worries. Sweet potato = batata, peas = afuna so together it's afuna batata (akuna matata).
Baked potatoes in their jackets and butter for better manners and punctuality.  This is a reference to the German Jews who always wore jackets (Jacke in German) and were called Yekkes. This came to mean someone who paid special attention to detail, manners, and punctuality.

Fruit salad with maple syrup for the same reasons as yesterday.
Vanilla ice-cream for the same reason as yesterday.

Second Day:
We are invited out for lunch to a traditional family who will, I'm sure, bless wine and dip apple in honey as most people do.

There are so many more foods with symbolic puns but there's only so much we can eat in two meals. As it is the fridge and freezer have been well stocked with the excess. I'm happy to consider any suggestions for next year. Just write them in the comments below.

 Shana Tova Umetuka! 

A sweet and happy year!


  1. These are terrific - I love puns! And that is a wonderful, joyful picture of your daughter. I hope you both have a wonderful time with friends and a very happy New Year.

    1. Thanks Margie. The picture is a few years old but we did have lovely time. Thanks. xx