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Rosh Hashanah

Best of the Blessings

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Every year on Rosh Hashanah, we make blessings on a variety of new fruits and vegetables that are symbolic of good fortune and signify our hopes for a good and prosperous New Year to come.

Many times we follow tradition without really understanding the true meaning behind what we are doing. Following are some of the many different symbolic foods that are eaten on Rosh Hashanah along with tips on how to pick the best and sweetest from your local grocer.

Apples with honey:

As we dip the apple into the honey we are requesting a sweet new year. The numeric value (in Hebrew) of the word HONEY is 306 which is equal to the value of the words "father of mercy". By eating honey we are trying to bring to mind the need for divine compassion and mercy.

Tip: Red and Golden delicious apples are among the sweetest. Rinse apples under clear running water like you would any fruit. If organic, don't peel unless the recipe you have chosen requires peeled apples. To prevent browning when slicing apples for a recipe, simply put the slices in a bowl of cold water to which a spoonful of lemon juice has been added.

Carrots or rice:

We are asking that, as these items are a symbol for abundance, so too should are merits be increased.

Leek, cabbage, beets or dates:

As the origin of these word sounds like the Hebrew word "to destroy", so too should we be safe from all our enemies.

Tip: When preparing leeks, cut off the fibrous root. Remove tough outer leaves. Trim the ends of the remaining leaves. Cut the leek in half length-wise, then slice or chop Place in a bowl of warm water and swirl around to help the dirt fall to the bottom. Take the leeks out, place in a colander, and rinse again. Make sure not to pour them into the colander as the dirt at the bottom of the bowl will get trapped in the leaves again.

Squash:

Another word whose Hebrew meaning is to tear, therefore we eat the squash and beseech that any bad decree should be torn up.

Pomegranates or black-eyed peas:

Its many seeds are eaten as a symbol to increase our virtues.

Tip: Should be bright in color with no blemishes or tears on the rind. Cutoff the crown, then cut the pomegranate into sections. Place the section in a bowl of water then roll out the juice sacs with your fingers. Discard everything else. Strain out the water. Enjoy in salads or sauté them with onions and add to couscous or rice.

Spinach:

Symbolizes a green year with plenty of produce.

Star fruit, lychees, guava and passion fruit:

Any of these fruits will fulfill the custom of eating a "new" fruit and making the coinciding blessing.

Tip: When buying Star Fruit select firm, shiny skinned, even colored fruit. Star fruits will ripen at room temperature and have lightly brown edges on the ribs when it's ripe. Avoid star fruits that have shriveled dark brown ribs (edges). Lychee fruits can be frozen they make a terrific sweet and healthy treat.

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Sarah Lasry is a contributing writer to Manischewitz.com, owner/chef of Tastebuds Gourmet Café in Howell, NJ and author of the acclaimed cookbook "The Dairy Gourmet". Learn more about Sarah.

 
 

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