All you need to know about a Rosh Hashanah feast, and what you’ll be eating. Originally written for Food24.com
Shalom chaverim (hello friends),
So it’s clear to me that most people know, Jewish or not, that Rosh Hashanah is a big holiday for the Jewish culture and a kick-start to the High Holy Days.
These “High Holy Days” are a series of observances, celebratory and mournful, derived from the Northern Hemisphere’s harvest season.
I won’t be explaining the tens of holidays in September and October that are linked with Rosh Hashanah because it took me 13 years of Jewish schooling to learn and forget them and we simply don’t have that kind of time.
What’s most important about the majority of Jewish holidays, to most Jews, is the catering. So here’s the scoop on how to feast, or make a feast, for Rosh Hashanah; whether you’re religious, atheist, or a foodie, we all enjoy a good smorgasbord!
What is Rosh Hashanah?
It’s the Jewish New Year according to the Jewish calendar, which was created about 5000 years ago and was pretty much based on the harvests in the Northern Hemisphere.
Why does everyone say Shana Tova?
Shana Tova means “good year” or “have a good year,” feel free to throw those words around like a Jewish badass.
What’s up with that hallowed out ram’s horn aka Shofar?
Traditionally used to announce the holidays to the village, the “Shofar” is sort of like church bells calling people to come and pray. During the prayer services, the Shofar is only blown this time of year; the Rabbi will sound the Shofar inside the temple. And, if you are lucky, you can try to blow the shofar yourself without fainting.
Religious wine – it’s a mitzvah (good deed) to drink and celebrate… so maybe don’t get black out drunk, but if you get close to it, you’ll be in the company of 5000 years of Jews before you.
South Africa makes some great kosher wine and for most Jews, wine doesn’t have to be kosher, so any bottle of red will do.
Apples dipped in honey – the most popular and widely spread, apples dipped in honey represents a sweet new year.
Round challah (aka kitke at Checkers) – usually bread is braided for Friday night dinner but this round version represents a happy full year and the circle of life and is only eaten on Rosh Hashanah.
Gefilte fish – a loaf of chopped up fish that turns into a fish meatloaf, and is certainly not for everyone.
Chicken soup – what would a Jewish meal be without this classic, brothy delight?
Kugel – a baked noodle dish with cheese, raisins, and cinnamon.
Sweet brisket – the traditional slow cooked brisket with added sweetness for a sweet New Year.
Honey cake – traditional sweet pound cake glazed or soaked in honey.
Jewish custard tart – a layer of thin pancake then icing, thin pancake, icing, thin pancake, icing.
By this point I hope you’ll be stuffed, rosy-cheeked, full of wine, and ready to give the shofar a go.