Happy Rosh Hashanah to all my Jewish readers! For all my non-Jewish readers, Rosh Hashanah is basically the Jewish New Year, since the Hebrew calendar is different than a standard calendar. When you hear people say Shana Tova, that’s Hebrew for “a good year.”
Rosh Hashanah is celebrated starting at sundown with a big family dinner and then with a dinner again the following night. My best guess as to why Jewish New Year is two nights is because Jewish children everywhere (I’m talking about the married adult children) have to appease Jewish mothers on both sides of their family, who want to host at their house. Many Jewish holidays are two nights for this reason (not really) and this is why my mother has decided Thanksgiving is also a two night holiday. So that my sister and I can dedicate one night to our in-laws and one night to her without incident. I can’t even imagine how many fights non-Jewish people get into over where to celebrate Christmas.
For the past few years, Mike’s mom has been coming to my mom’s dinner, which she does the second night, which frees us up the first night to have dinner with friends. So, last night (the first night— my god this is confusing), we went to Seri’s for dinner, along with my friend Emily and her kids.
Seri, like she does for all holidays (and even non-holidays), went ALL OUT.
Here’s an aerial shot because Seri’s house is probably the only place where you can show up and it’s perfectly acceptable to stand on a chair and take a pic specifically for Instagram.
Notice the apple place card holder.
Apples are a traditional food served on Rosh Hashanah, usually sliced with a bowl of honey for dipping, to signify a sweet new year. Apples are not traditionally spray painted white but that’s Little Miss Party for you. She likes to think outside the Jewish box. Don’t worry, they were served the traditional way as well.
Other traditional foods served were challah (baked round instead of braided for the new year; not sure why), matzah ball soup (just to fill you up before the meal has even started), brisket (which we called Grandma’s Meat growing up), potato kugel (egg and potato baked into a yummy casserole) and babka (cake with ribbons of chocolate baked inside, made famous by that Seinfeld episode) for dessert.
The goal of all Jewish meals is to make you feel like you’re walking out with a ton of bricks in your belly that if you’re lucky, you will digest some time within the next 18 months.
Jewish holidays are also the perfect place to test if your children are retaining any knowledge from Hebrew School. Mazzy, Gavin, Luke and Harlow might not attend school together anymore but they do attend Hebrew School one afternoon a week together. I asked Mazzy to say the prayer over the bread and she said something like, “Raise your glass! I want challah! Let’s eat!”
In case it wasn’t obvious, that is not Hebrew and totally incorrect. Glad all our money is paying off! (We said it correctly after that.)
Why am I explaining Rosh Hashanah when most of the people who click on a Rosh Hashanah post are probably Jewish? Because time and again, my non-Jewish readers tell me that they love learning about religious traditions different from their own. So happy new year to the Jews and the non-Jews!
I wish you both the sweetest of New Years.
I also want to add that Mike went to the adult service at our temple this morning while I stayed home with the kids. He said that the rabbi delivered a prayer for the country that felt especially poignant in light of recent events, both natural disasters and political ones.
I’m not one to quote religious texts so I would just like to extend my prayers to everyone in Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and Mexico. I’m hoping this new year brings more light than darkness.
For those of you who want to learn a little more about challah, here’s a video of Mazzy and Harlow baking it at Orwasher’s Bakery on the Upper West Side.