AMOS & CELIA HEILICHER MINNEAPOLIS JEWISH DAY SCHOOL

My Rosh Hashanah Traditions

By Heilicher Hebrew Teacher BatSheva Berman

Rosh Hashanah is one of my favorite holidays. For me, it is a time to be with family and friends, a time to reflect on my life, and to appreciate all the blessings I have. At my house, we carry on one of my childhood traditions; a tradition which is written about in the Talmud. It is to eat foods that have symbolic significance. We eat apples and honey so we may have a sweet new year, and pomegranates so we will be as full of good deeds as the pomegranate has seeds. 

 

On the other hand, not all of the symbols have such rosy meanings. The Yemenites, like Jews around the world, suffered at the hands of the people around them, and Rosh Hashanah was a chance for them to curse their enemies through puns on the names of foods. For example, the Hebrew word for beet is selek, which is similar in sound to salek, meaning to drive away, so in eating beets we, in Hebrew, ask the Lord to drive out our enemies. Tamar, the Hebrew word for dates begins with the sound tam meaning to cease, so in eating dates we ask God to put an end to our enemies. The Aramaic for squash is Kar’a, which in Hebrew means tear, and in Hebrew we ask God to tear up our enemies. These are just a few of the curses we enjoy giving.

 

This year, amidst all the turmoil in the world, my thoughts turn to the prophet Micah, who had a vision of peace in the world. Where swords have been turned into plowshares and people sit peacefully beneath their vines and fig trees. This year I would like to start a new tradition in my family, in which we eat grapes and figs on Rosh Hashanah, and ask God to give us a year in which we sit in peace beneath our vines and fig trees.

 

Shana Tovah
BatSheva Berman

  • Holidays

More Posts

The Passing of A Year, The Crossing of A Sea

Isn’t it ironic that we celebrate our hurried exodus from Egypt, one in which we did not even have time to let bread dough rise, with a meal that is so full of preparation and organization it is literally called “order”? The seder plate is even laid out from chazeret (lettuce) to charoset (fruit and nut mixture), helping to ensure the order of the meal is followed and no mitzvah is passed over. We scour the house in advance of the holiday, searching for chametz (forbidden foods), and we arrange to sell the rest, as a way to ensure there is none remaining in our possession at sundown on the first night of Pesach. It is remarkable that we remain so devoted to the detailed preparation of a holiday designed to mark when we went from bondage to freedom without time for even the simplest food preparation.

Pesach, Women’s Rights, and the Four(th Grade) Children

Passover has always been my favorite Jewish holiday. As a child, I appreciated the timing. My birthday often falls during the holiday. When you’re a cute little kid and family gets together around your birthday, everyone feels compelled to bring you a present. That and my grandmother’s matzo ball soup made the holiday worth the trouble.