There are so many fabulous articles out there about celebrating Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but here at CDS, we were discussing whether there was a comprehensive and chic resource out there with tips on celebrating the autumn High Holidays in the Jewish Calendar, and we realized we couldn’t find one; so, we decided to create it
Read on for our top tips on hosting a Rosh Hashanah party or a Yom Kippur Break Fast. We hope that–whether you’ve been celebrating your entire life or joining a Jewish partner or friend for your first celebration–you find these tips helpful and inspiring.
Holiday History: Rosh Hashanah, which means “head of the year” in Hebrew, is the Jewish New Year, and it’s one of the holiest periods in the religion. The exact date changes each year, but it always falls in September or October (in 2022, it starts on September 25th, and runs for four days, as always). Rosh Hashanah celebrates the creation of the world–in the Jewish calendar, we’re in the year 5,782–and it marks the beginning of a reflective period in Judaism called “The Days of Awe.” The Days of Awe, also known as “the ten days of repentance,” represent a time for healing, during which Jews are encouraged to reflect on and ask forgiveness for their sins in advance of Yom Kippur.
Holiday Traditions: The start of Rosh Hashanah is signaled by the sounding of the shofar, a hollowed out ram’s horn, which is then blown multiple times each day for the rest of the four-day holiday. As with the secular New Year, it is customary to wish all those you encounter a happy day – the appropriate greeting is “L’Shana tovah.” As work is prohibited, many of those who observe the holiday spend all day in services at Temple. Once services are finished, though, the traditions revolve around food. Everyone eats apples and honey, in hopes of welcoming in a sweet New Year. While many Jewish celebrations involve challah bread, a slightly sweet loaf of braided bread, on Rosh Hashanah, the challah is round, to symbolize the circle of life.
How CDS Does Rosh Hashanah:
Make Inspired Treats: We’d always recommend serving the traditional sliced apples with a bowl of honey for dipping on the side, but there’s no reason you can’t also pay homage to the classic dishes with a twist.
Why not add apple slices to one of our favorite appetizers, crispy halloumi, for a wonderful melange of tastes and textures with a holiday spin?
Most Rosh Hashanah treats are round and sweet, so our apple fritter doughnuts, with a side of honey for dipping, would also be a wonderful option to have on hand if you’re hosting, or a thoughtful choice to bake and bring as a guest. You could also replace berries with apples in our morning crisp recipe, if you wanted to get the day started on a sweet note.
As far as challah goes, there are lots of amazing recipes online, but we also love supporting Kosher bakeries to give their businesses a boost before many close down for sukkot in October. For all Jewish holidays, be sure to order in advance, as work on the day itself is generally not permitted.
Volunteer: There’s no bad time of the year to serve your community, but to do so during The Days of Awe is especially poignant, and good deeds during this time are traditionally considered auspicious. Whether it’s reading to children or delivering meals to the elderly, look up volunteer opportunities that resonate with you, and see if you can carve out some time for them during holiday-time.
How CDS Does Yom Kippur:
Holiday History: Yom Kippur is the holiest day of all in the Jewish calendar, and is also known as the “day of atonement.” All Jewish holidays begin and end at sundown, and, this year, Yom Kippur begins the evening of October 4th, and ends on the 5th. On Rosh Hashanah, religious tradition posits that God has three books into which he inscribes names: Good People, Evil People, and those who are neither. Jews believe that the actions they perform on the Days of Awe can get their names into the Good Book, and Yom Kippur is the day on which this fate for the year is sealed.
The Day Itself: As Yom Kippur is a day focused on repentance, work is forbidden. All practicing Jews fast on this day, and those who are more observant also refrain from bathing, applying lotions, and wearing leather. Even those who don’t typically attend synagogue are likely to spend all day in services. The fast lasts for 25 hours, and it’s end is marked with a break fast, during which people tend to serve traditional Jewish breakfast food, such as bagels and lox.
Break Fast Ideas: Given the sober nature of the day, there aren’t many activities you can undertake on the day itself if you’re observing, but you can certainly prepare food in advance to ensure breaking the fast is seamless and delicious. This everything bagel spiced dutch baby is our go-to, because it’s nutritionally complete (the smoked salmon provides protein; the herbed sour cream healthy fats; and the Dutch baby carbohydrates) but a slightly less heavy take on the classic bagels & lox. If you want to keep it even simpler, just prepare this gravlax.
L’shana tova! We hope this article helped to educate & inspire you on some of the most important holidays of the Jewish year. If you make any of our Rosh Hashanah or Break Fast recipes, tag us on social media using #casadesuna.