Are you wondering what to serve when we celebrate Rosh Hashanah (Yom Teruah)? We all know that it’s not really a Jewish Festival without food… unless, of course, it’s Yom Kippur and we’re instructed to “afflict ourselves” by fasting. But even then, a fair bit of thought goes into what will be served at the break-fast after Ne’ilah.
So what do we serve at the first of the Fall Festivals, at Rosh Hashanah?
For those of us in our part of the world, the produce that is just appearing for the Fall is what gets featured and apples are just ripening in the orchards. This may not be completely obvious since fruits like apples are available year-round nowadays. In our modern world of trade and shipping across the planet, even fruits that have a “season” in a location (like fall, or autumn, for apples) are available out of season because they come from across the globe, from the Southern hemisphere, where they are in season. But here in North America, it is the Fall when the local apples begin to ripen; just in time for the Fall Festivals. Yum.
In Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashanah foods symbolize the sweetness of the New Year. Apples are sweet, but dip them in honey and you have a beautifully sweet confection. Sliced apples dipped in honey are probably the most well-known of all the foods served during Rosh Hashanah.
But it’s not just apples. Traditionally, any fruit that is new (as in “new” year) will do. Fruits that have just become available in time for the season, like pomegranates, have also become associated with the holiday. But it does not have to be a fruit you know and love—with all the exotic fruit that can be found in the grocery store, it can just be a fruit that’s “new” to you! It can serve as a reminder of the newness of Rosh Hashanah and an opportunity for us to embrace new things and ideas in the New Year. Go visit the exotic fruits section and see what you can find!
And who doesn’t like cake? Honey Cake is the traditional celebration dessert. With its distinctive honey sweetness and the warmth of spices, this is family favorite. Sometimes made with a little bit of apple, it reminds us of those apples dipped in honey; other times, it’s studded with raisins for a little extra sweetness. The Internet is your friend if you’re looking for recipes to try. My favorite recipe comes from Tori Avey and is a divine mixture of sweet honey and tangy apples.
Challah is the delicious bread of Jewish celebration. For this day, many people add extra sweetness for the New Year by adding fruit to the challah. In addition, for Rosh Hashanah, the bread is not made in the traditional braided loaf but is constructed into a round loaf that symbolizes to us the cycle of the year. As one year ends, the new one begins in a never-ending circle of time. For some, the round challah reminds them of a crown. For us, this serves as a connection to our returning king, Messiah Yeshua. Recall that the Apostle Sha’ul writes in 1Th 4 that The King will return “with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the blast of G-d’s shofar.” Rosh Hashanah is also Yom Teruah, the day of the blowing of the shofar. The return of our King Messiah is associated with the shofar blast, a sound we hear this day. May we look at the round challah on our tables and be reminded of the Crown of our King Messiah!