Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Shana Tova, Happy New Year

Something a lot of you won't know about me is that I come from a jewish family. Although we've never been religious, being jewish is still a part of who I am, my family heritage and my culture. I might not go to synagogue every Friday, but I still have a lot of childhood memories that centre around my religion and my family. Passover at my grandparents place in Palm Beach. Reading from the kids Haggadah. Doing my very best to sleep in on a Sunday morning so I didn't have to go to hebrew school.

Sunday night was the first night of the Jewish New Year (for some reason, all our celebrations pretty much go for at least two nights), or Rosh Hashanah. There aren't fireworks or massive nights out, but as with most jewish celebrations, there is A LOT of food, so it's kind of perfect for me. For once though, I didn't actually have to bring anything, which as I'm sure you can guess is quite unusual. But what I love about the food in the jewish religion is the symbolism. So much of what we eat at different times has different meaning. At passover for instance, we eat Matzah, or unleavened bread, which commemorates the escape of jews from Egypt where we were enslaved. They didn't have time to leven their bread as they were escaping, so the bread baked on their backs and didn't rise. In laymen's terms, it's basically a big cracker.

So what do we eat at Rosh Hashanah. First there's honey that you dip challah and apples into. The honey represents good living and wealth, and when we dip apples into honey, we say a prayer asking for a sweet year.

We also eat round challah. Now challah is a traditional, soft braided bread that's eaten every Friday night at shabbat dinner, but during Rosh Hashanah it's round to symbolise the continuity of creation, the unending cycle of life. OK, so maybe a bit much for me, but there's still something lovely about the symbolism behind it.
I'm sure there's much more meaning behind the food that we eat, and many more symbolic foods that I haven't even mentioned here, but hopefully this gives you a taste for what we ate last night at our family dinner.

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