Rosh Hashanah, like many family holidays, is rich with traditions that link the celebration to its religious roots. Following are a few ways to honor those traditions and make your celebration of the Jewish New Year the sweetest of them all. Add your own traditions in the comments section below.
The round challah at the dinner table symbolizes the circle of life. Pick a loaf that all your guests will enjoy, at Deerfield's Bakery, which offers plain, poppy-seed, raisin, sesame-seed and even a gluten-free round challah loaf. The bakery also offers decorated shofar cookies; the sound of the shofar (ram's horn) is used to mark important Jewish events and ceremonies.
To grow your holiday spirit before your guests arrive, Northbrook's has suggestions for readers of every age. What's the Buzz? Honey for a Sweet New Year by Allison Ofanansky looks at the science and culture of honey making at an Israeli bee farm. Photographs bring the information to life, and tradition suggests that honey at the Rosh Hashanah celebration will bring a sweet new year. For younger readers, Talia and the Rude Vegetables by Linda Elovitz Marshall tells a story of misunderstanding as Talia interprets her grandmother's instructions to fill the pot with seven root vegetables. The book includes a recipe for root vegetable stew.
If you're going to be a guest this Rosh Hashanah, a bottle of wine for your host and hostess might bring you a warmer welcome. "You can't go wrong with a cabernet sauvignon or a chardonnay," says Josh Parkinson, owner of Northbrook's . "Those are always a big hit on the North Shore." Parkinson recommends that shoppers ask the salesperson for a recommendation, then select one bottle of wine that you're familiar with and one bottle that you've never tried, especially one of the new blends of grape varieties. "You don't have to spend a lot on a bottle of wine," he adds. "There are plenty of wines in the $20 range to make you look like a star. The quality and consistency of winemaking has really gone up."
Make yourself a guest at someone else's table: make reservations! in Glenview will have a special Rosh Hashanah meal Wednesday and Thursday, which includes chopped liver, brisket, kugel, honey cake and other treats. is also offering Rosh Hashanah specials throughout the weekend, including Matzo ball soup, smoked salmon and brisket.
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill of Northbrook's shared the following benediction, which he delivers for Kol Nidre, the eve of the Yom Kippur service. "It's a fitting message for the High Holidays because these are days of reflection, during which we evaluate our lives, our priorities, our conduct," he explained. "Specifically, part of our process of repentance demands asking for forgiveness from those we may have hurt, knowingly or not."
Here are his words:
"When you see a flower, smell it.
When you have a story, tell it.
When a hand appears, shake it.
When you want some cake, bake it.
When a book calls out, read it.
When the soil is warm, seed it.
When you find a bell, ring it.
When you have a song, sing it.
When the air is thick, clear it.
When your neighbor cries, hear it.
When you see a tree, hug it.
When the TV’s loud, unplug it.
When the food is good, eat it.
When the drum is silent, beat it.
When the day is dark, brighten it.
When the load is heavy, lighten it.
When troubles increase, bear it.
When joys increase, share it.
When the anger rises, stop it.
When the milk spills, mop it.
When the cobwebs come, clean it.
When you say you’re sorry, mean it.
When you have a need, pray it.
And when you love someone, say it.
May our homes be full of peace, not strife.
May we all be sealed in the book of life."