Sep 13

Happy Jewish New Year

This week was the Jewish New Year. We are lucky to be able to say “Happy New Year” twice, once when we celebrate with the general public, and one in the fall. Boosting the “Happy Year” toward the fall is a good reminder that we need to do good and look for happiness. Originally, the New Year was in spring. From nature point of view this makes much more sense as in spring, everything starts over: new flowers emerge; birds return and build their nests; farmers saw this year crops, and we plant our new home gardens. But the Jewish New Year in fall celebrates the birth of earth, and in its land of origin it also celebrates nature: the end of harvest season; the ripening of the seven kinds, among them are the figs, pomegranates, dates, and wines. Part of the holiday tradition is to prepare many dishes that contain the seven kinds, paying attention to the characteristic of the species and creating a blessing, that symbolize its characteristic. For example, “May it be that our merits increase like the seeds of a pomegranate”. Other vegetables are used for their Hebrew or Aramaic names, using a word game to symbolize a blessing. For example, the Hebrew name for beet is selek. The root of this word SLK also means remove. Thus, “may all our enemies be removed” and a beet dish or beet’s leaves dish is served. Sweet foods like, dates (named honey in the bible) and apple with honey are being eaten for their sweetness to promises a sweet year. What I like about this tradition is that it makes people connect to the origin of their foods and paying attention to each fruit and vegetables: what its trait and special taste are. This is a long, slow eating process:  you take a sample of each dish, and first you say a blessing, and only then slowly eat the dish. Then you serve the next sample. Depend on the house tradition there are between 8-15 dishes like this, that appreciate the source of our food and make people think how it contribute to our life. I wish that there were more occasions like this. Happy New Year.

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